Discover Lanzarote – The Cool Canary Island

July 2, 2009
This post written and submitted by Nick Ball.

The Canary Islands have something of a reputation in the UK as a cheap and cheerful holiday destination. But these seven little specks of Spain located off the coast of Africa are not all birds of a feather. As on Lanzarote – the most easterly link in the chain – tourists are able to enjoy an unspoilt island bursting with unique cultural attractions.

Lanzarote was first conquered by the Spanish crown in the early 1400´s – rapidly emerging as in important strategic staging post in the nascent empire. As Spain opened up the New World and galleons traversed the Atlantic with Inca silver.

The island has been welcoming tourists since the 1970´s. But despite Lanzarote´s undoubted popularity as a holiday destination, welcoming over 1.5 million tourists in 2008, the island still remains surprisingly undeveloped. Especially in comparison to larger Canarian cousins such as Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

Hail Cesar

This can largely be attributed to the work and influence of Cesar Manrique – an artist who was born on Lanzarote and went on to head up the Spanish surrealist movement in the 1950´s. Manrique was deeply in love with his birthplace – seeing great beauty in Lanzarote´s eerie volcanic landscapes. And was working in New York just as tourism started to take off.

Fearing that the island could become buried beneath a sea of hotels and golf courses Manrique returned to Lanzarote. And with the help of the island governor and close family friend Pepin Ramirez campaigned for the controlled development of tourism.

As a result there are no high rise buildings or ad hoardings on Lanzarote. The three main tourist resorts are all well contained. And artistic sculptures and wind toys adorn roundabouts and public spaces.

Manrique also created a series of alternative tourist attractions. Eschewing the conventional route of theme parks to construct sites such as the Jameos del Agua. Where he united Lanzarote´s volcanic scenery with his own creativity by converting a collapsed lava tube into a concert venue and underground grotto.

Thanks to Manrique Lanzarote was declared a UNESCO protected biosphere in 1994. The first island in the world to be awarded this status.

Places To Stay

There´s a wide range of good quality accommodation options on the island. Hotels account for around 40% of all tourist beds. But many visitors prefer to book private rental accommodation. With apartments and villas in Lanzarote proving especially popular in recent years.

Getting There

The island is serviced by the one international airport at Arrecife. With flights to Lanzarote available from all major UK airports with prices starting at around £200 return.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *