One of the aspects I love most about blogging is being invited to visit destinations that I wouldn’t necessarily go to and being completely blown away by the experience.
I was fortunate to visit Lanzarote many times whilst working on the cruise ships and always enjoyed my time on the island. It hadn’t crossed my mind to return because, if I’m completely honest, I have a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude to travelling. I prefer not to return somewhere I have already been when there are so many places I have yet to discover.
A few weeks after being invited to return to Lanzarote by the tourist board I was flying to the island with five of my fellow family travel bloggers. They, unlike me, were about to discover Lanzarote for the first time. Looking out of my plane window I could see the orange volcanic landscape and turquoise blue surrounding waters. It was my first birds eye view of the island, (a bonus for visitors arriving on a plane rather than cruise ship,) and it was a very impressive and memorable one.
Snapping away taking photos the eagerness from my fellow bloggers was contagious and I started to feel the bubbling of excitement… I had flash backs to some of my last visits and I briefly wondered if the island had changed much in the last decade. Would the island still be as I remembered it… Vast untouched fields of lava fields and volcanoes? Or would I find that Lanzarote had bowed to commercial pressure and allowed the golden arches of McDonald’s and tacky souvenir shops to spoil the unique scenery? I didn’t have to wait long to find out, after a short four-hour flight from London we arrived at Arrecife airport.
Day One – Castles and Cacti
Straight from airport we visited Castillo de San Jose. The castle was built on top of a cliff in the late 1700’s to protect the capital, Arrecife and its ports. The food served at the upscale restaurant was exquisite and we had great views overlooking the new sculptures of sea horses, entitled ‘The Rising Tide’, designed to convey a powerful message about the preservation of the planet in the face of globalization. Surely these horses were a good sign?
After tucking into traditional tapas and local wine we headed to the cactus garden – Jardin de Cactus. I’m not a gardener, (my husband would vouch for this, he refers to me as having ‘black fingers’ as I tend to over water and kill anything he attempts to grow!) Even I however couldn’t fail to be impressed with this stunning and immaculately maintained garden, created by the islands late legendary artist and architect, César Manrique.
If you’ve ever been to Lanzarote you will know that César’s influence is felt throughout the island. His passion was for creating beautiful attractions by combining the islands natural landscape with art. Our guide informed us that when César first came up with the idea for a cactus garden, (his last work produced in Lanzarote,) the locals thought he was crazy. They questioned why he would try to create a garden on an island which receives very little rainfall in an old abandoned quarry. 27 years on, the cactus gardens still attract thousands of visitors weekly so he clearly wasn’t crazy!
My friend Sarah and I couldn’t contain our excitement as we ran though the gardens!
We’ve arrived in Lanzarote! ✈️☀️after a lush lunch at Castillo de San Jose in Arrecife the islands capital we visited the cactus garden @cact_lanzarote to check out the 700 different species of 🌵 @extraordinary_chaos and I may have got a little too excited! 😂 #FamilyLanzarote #BritMumsLanzarote #presstrip @visit.lanzarote @lanzarote @lanzarote_visit @lanzaroteworld
Day Two – Camels & Volcanos
Our second day was spent at the Timanfaya National Park. I woke up feeling a little apprehensive. Would it be as I remembered it or would I find it over commercialised? As we pulled into the coach car park I quickly looked around searching for souvenir stalls and fast food restaurants… I was relieved to see only rows of patiently waiting camels against a rusty orange volcanic backdrop.
I’m not going to go into too much detail here about the Timanfaya National Park as it deserves a full post all to itself, (check back soon). The highlights of our day were taking a rather bumpy ride onboard a camel up and down the slopes of volcanoes and driving along the islands dedicated Volcano Route. A 14 km protected drive which you experience with a guide to the background of eerie music whilst learning all about the raw lunar landscape. It’s definitely a ‘must do’ during a visit (and even a return visit!) to Lanzarote.
We enjoyed lunch at the El Diablo Restaurant which uses geothermal heat from a dormant volcano to cook the food it serves. Knowing that each tasty mouthful had been cooked entirely by the natural heat of the volcanic earth was a fabulous experience. Especially whilst enjoying views over the aptly named, Fire Mountains. (My boys were seriously impressed when I told them about this. I’m sure they were picturing an erupting volcano cooking mummy’s lunch and not the BBQ like stove you can see below!)
Over the course of our day at the Timanfaya National Park I continued to search for tourist facilities that looked out of character against the landscape. I’ve travelled around the world and always been horrified by attractions that give in to greed, at the expense of protecting the natural environment. The pyramids in Egypt are a perfect example of this, I’ll never forget my first visit and being mortified that there was a KFC and Pizza Hut in eye shot of some of the worlds most significant archaeological sites. (If you don’t believe me take a look here).
I was absolutely delighted that the only touristy shop I saw was a very tasteful one next to the El Diablo restaurant. Whilst this is mainly due to the island receiving UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Status in 1993, I understand that prior to this it was the islanders themselves who worked hard to protect the islands star attractions from over commercialisation.
Day Three – Aqua Park and Zoo
In complete contrast to a day of camels and volcanos our last full day in Lanzarote was spent exploring two of the islands best attractions for kids – Aquapark Costa Teguise and Rancho Texas. My fellow travel bloggers and I ran around like big kids checking out all the pools and racing each other down the water slides. (Who said water parks are just for kids?!) This one was our favourite slide…
And to prove that we did actually go down it!
We spent the afternoon at Rancho Texas, a zoo and water park which puts on several shows daily featuring birds of prey, sea lions, dolphins and cockatoos. I loved Rancho Texas. It’s a immaculately maintained park with beautiful cactus gardens, entertaining shows and a water park. (Which although much smaller than the aqua park above has something to offer kids of all ages with a giant water play area, huge pool and water slide).
Summary – Is it worth returning to Lanzarote?
In short yes Lanzarote is definitely worth returning to! As I said above, I don’t normally like returning to the same place twice. (Simply because there are SO many places in the world I have yet to discover). As you may have guessed however from this rather gushy review, I loved reacquainting myself with Lanzarote.
My return visit made me really appreciate the unspoiled lava and volcanic landscape. Yes the main tourist resorts are built up, and you do see a few of your typical British/Irish bars and souvenir shops. Beyond these tourist resorts however the volcanic landscape with enforced white-painted buildings, cactus gardens and vineyards is truly stunning.
Returning as a mum I also saw Lanzarote from a completely different perspective. When I was young and single working onboard the ships I didn’t appreciate how much there is to do for families on the island. There are not many destinations that can boast of UNESCO status, short flights from the UK (a very doable four-hours with even the youngest of kids), year-round average temperature of 22 degrees, water parks AND great beaches!
Whilst watching the plane take off from Arrecife airport I promised myself that I wouldn’t leave it another ten years to visit, next time to explore with my husband and boys.
This is a short video of footage taken during my return flight. My top tip for a holiday in Lanzarote? Make sure you nab the window seat for your flight to make the most of these views…
Have you visited the island? Have I convinced you it’s worth returning to Lanzarote again?
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