With dramatic landscapes and moonlike terrain, Liz McIntyre explores the softer side of Lanzarote.
As far as short haul destinations go, Lanzarote's been a firm favourite with the Brits for many years. It's possible to concede that over time, it's developed a 'home-from-home' reputation thanks to the countless English bars serving pie and chips and showing Corrie at the same 7:30pm slot enjoyed 'back at the ranch'. However, look beyond the stereotypical package holiday and you'll discover an island filled with hidden treasures, culture by the bucket load and food to die for, as well as plenty of opportunity for adventure.
Bubbles, bubbles everywhere
Our base for the trip was the exquisite four-star Barceló Teguise Beach. An adults-only hotel situated in an unparalleled location just 150 metres from Las Cucharas beach, which is just a 20-minute drive from the island's airport. Refurbished in 2015 the relaxed and contemporary vibe is unmistakable in each of the 305 rooms, most of which boast their own hot tub and, after a day of exploring, this was a luxury that I tried my hardest to enjoy – there's nothing quite like sitting in hot bubbles while drinking cold bubbles with a stunning view of the rolling Atlantic right in front of you!
The hotel's modern, state-of-the-art feel is enhanced by two spectacular infinity pools, and a fitness suite for those feeling active in the warm Canarian sunshine, while the U-Spa with its magnificent hydrotherapy circuit and multitude of treatments is perfect for ladies and gents looking to unwind and relax.
My way or the segway
Many of the hotel's balconies overlook the resort's beach promenade – one of the most charming I've seen in a long time. Take the time to people-watch and you'll see families strolling together, locals chatting and laughing on their way to work or to meet friends as they're passed by sun and sweat-drenched runners looking down at their watches. I was keen to explore the area and what better way than by segway? Our guide had his work cut out at the start of the trip and I have an inkling that he was more than a little worried that one of us would (through our tears of laughter) teeter over the edge into the waves below, but once on our way it was a fantastic option for seeing the local sights.
In and around
Located about 690 miles southwest of the Spanish mainland and 70 miles off the West African coast, Lanzarote lies to the north of sister island Fuerteventura. The influences of both Africa and Spain are tangible and as we explore the natural beauty of the island we're in awe of the power and devastation that Mother Nature has delivered to this desolate and moonlike area of national park. Hot spots (quite literally) include Montanas del Fuego (Timanfaya) – a deserted beauty spot where visitors can enjoy food in the El Diablo restaurant cooked by the natural heat of the earth 10 metres below while other beauty spots include El Golfo, a green lagoon which contrasts the black crater that it sits within, and then there's the awe-inspiring Los Hervideros and Salinas del Janubio with crashing waves and dramatic scenery.
Food, glorious food
We meet in the hotel's Atlantic Buffet bar for dinner. If I'm honest, I don't think the word 'buffet' proffers the reality of the incredible food served here. There are culinary delights from the world over, freshly prepared before your eyes and cooked to taste. Freshly caught fish look tantalising, while Chinese noodles are whipped into action with chicken, beef or pork and a multitude of vegetables. There's a station for equally appealing Italian-style nourishment or, for those with less experimental tastebuds, there are plenty of English options too.
Food is of the same high standard in the Breeze Pool Bar, a bright and airy space with both outdoor and shaded seating overlooking the larger of the two on-site pools.
Home to acclaimed eco-architect César Manrique, visitors to Lanzarote who have an interest in exploring the island's abundant cultural scene can marvel at designs by this visionary artist whose creations can be seen around the world. For art, find the Castillo de San José, replete with paintings, sculptures and sketches from internationally renowned Canarian artists, while the newly established Atlantic Museum creates a strong dialogue between art and nature by way of an artificial reef, which sits 18 metres down into the sea. The sculptures, created by Jason deCaires Taylor, depict modern life as well as times gone by and can be enjoyed by free divers and snorkelers as well as those holding a diving licence.
1. Pay a visit to Jameos del Agua, a romantic grotto hidden within two caves. This natural lake is the perfect spot for a bite to eat and the acoustics of the bird song throughout is truly special.
2. Hire a car or motorbike and travel to Mirador del Rio. The panoramic views are out of this world.
3. Hit the beach. It'd be a travesty to visit without taking advantage of the surf and sand. Divers can experience some spectacular marine life too in crystal clear waters.
4. Experience dinner and wine with the locals. There are plenty of eateries in El Golfo and the local wine's not to be missed.
5. Do a spot of island hopping! Moving from island to island is really easy by ferry, with Fueteventura only 15 minutes away.
Flights from London Gatwick take just over four hours and leave daily. Staying there:
Rooms at the Barceló Teguise Beach start from €137 per room, per night on a bed and breakfast basis. Book at:www.barcelo.com