Introduction

Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands and is located around 130 kilometers off the coast of Africa. Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the 7 Canary Islands, the third most populous after Tenerife and Gran Canaria and the second oldest (after Fuerteventura).

A map of the Canary Islands
Map of the Canary Islands (with Lanzarote on the top right)

Where to stay

The main tourist resorts are located on the eastern side of the island, which are more sheltered than the west. From north to south these are:

  • Costa Teguise
  • Puerto del Carmen
  • Puerto Calero
  • Playa Blanca

There are also villas and rural hotels/B&B’s dotted around the island for holiday rental, with a small surfer style town on the west coast in Famara too.

The Papagayo Beach, part of 7 beaches in the natural park on the outskirts of Playa Blanca
The Papagayo Beach, part of 7 beaches in the natural park on the outskirts of Playa Blanca

TV and Film

Lanzarote is famous for its rugged, volcanic landscape and has been used as a moonscape or otherworldy backdrop for various movies including; One Million Years BC, Enemy Mine, Krull, Broken Embraces and in Dr Who “Kill the Moon”.

Topography

Lanzarote has two mountain ranges; in the north is the Famara massif with its highest peak reaching 671 meters high, known as the Penas del Chache. On this part of the west coast the mountains descend steeply into the sea. On the mountains, windy roads lead down to numerous viewpoints of the coast. These western mountains belong to the wettest and greenest part of the island, as it rains here more than elsewhere on the island, though this is still infrequently. In the south of the island lies the oldest mountain range of Los Ajaches, with an altitude of 608 meters. South of the Famara massif is the sand desert of El Jable, which separates the Famara massif from the fire mountains of the Timanfaya National Park.

The fire mountains of Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote
The fire mountains of Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya

In the area of ​​Timanfaya the last severe volcanic eruptions occurred between 1730 to 1736, with the most recent in 1824. Depending on the sunshine and the temperature, the fire mountains can appear to glow in different colors from fire red to deep black. The Timanfaya National Park covers an area of just over 50km2 and is the centre of the islands Biosphere reserve; a status awarded by UNESCO in 1993. Visitors to the park can have their lunch cooked over the heat from the volcano and watch as water poured into the ground, erupts moments later in a plume of steam (geyser). Access to Timanfaya park is strictly regulated to conserve the areas delicate flora and fauna.

Weather

The island has a mild and dry climate. There is a fresh breeze from the north or northeast throughout the year with the trade winds cooling down the islands during the summer months when they blow fiercly. Calima, dusty winds from the Sahara, can raise the temperatures to 50Deg C (although it usually raised the temp to around 40 deg c), although these episodes usually last a few days at a time. Despite the cool trade winds or thin cloud, visitors to Lanzarote are reminded to apply suncream regularly, this is African sun and not the Mediterranean.