Lanzarote by Bill McCarthy
It is said that during the time of the Spanish Empire, the Canaries were an important stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas
Their armadas came south to catch the prevailing north easterly trade winds.
Modern day pleasure cruises and ferries have replaced the treasure-seeking galleons, attracting tourists seeking sun and relaxation on the islands, a year-round destination. They can certainly still catch those winds, which blow lustily, but that’s part of the charm, particularly on Lanzarote, arguably the best of the group.
The island offers fine beaches a rugged, lunar landscape featuring exotic cactii, volcanic activity, particularly at iconic Timfanaya National Park, warm seas and a friendly, welcoming population.
It is pretty much an ideal size and lengthy and costly transfers can be avoided as the island’s airport is pretty much in the middle section of the island.
We flew out with Jet2, the low cost airline which is now operating out of Birmingham Airport. It offers competitive prices and it has to be said, some of the most efficient and time-saving check-in procedures, which are often something which can blight the beginning or end of a holiday and become even more important as travel restrictions continue.
Our accommodation, the excellent Barcelo Teguise Beach in Costa Teguise, is just a 20 euro taxi ride away and is one of the most popular resorts in Lanzarote. Small enough to feel intimate, but still big enough to feature dozens of restaurants and bars, offering plenty of choice for food, drink and entertainment.
The major plus point though is the Cucharas Beach, with its golden sands in a safe bay with warm water for keen swimmers, or those who just want to get their feet wet.
Windsurfers also love it when the wind blows.
Our four-star hotel literally opened out on to the beach area through its downstairs sports bar. An adult-only establishment, it offers the perfect escape for those looking for a pampered holiday away from the children.
A 350-room hotel, it has two infinity pools, one large, one small, two bars plus a cocktail bar, and offers an excellent choice of food and drink and wall-to-wall entertainment, if you fancy it.
The rooms are something else. We stayed in one of the junior suites. Here you are cocooned in luxury, with the super kingsize bed, state of the art shower room and large back to back flat screen TVs so you can watch from the lounge or in bed. Wi-fi is also free in the rooms.
But the pièce de resistance has to be the hot tub, situated on the balcony, in our case overlooking the pool and with a magnificent sea view.
The all inclusive menu offers four-star quality with cuisine to suit all tastes with the opportunity to eat al fresco They will even cook your steak to order in the main restaurant
It is truly an international menu for an international set of customers. Alternatively guests can take meals in the poolside bar or the downstairs sports bar. This is where the main entertainment takes place.
Drinks are mostly branded products, with the service polite, friendly and efficient as you would expect from a large outfit like the Barcelo chain.
That is perhaps the hallmark of this hotel. Without fail, all staff were friendly, attentive and eager to help.
There is plenty to do if you fancy a break from continually spoiling yourself by the pool. If you want to work off the calories or enjoy just a little more pampering, try the state of the art gym at the poolside or the sauna and spa which offers a number of beauty treatments and a hydrotherapy circuit.
Relax in the solarium area or sip a cool drink on the terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with fantastic view of Teguise Bay and Cucharas Beach, which is only 150 metres from the hotel.
There are plenty of excursions on offer, but perhaps one of the best is taking a catamaran trip to the tiny island of Graciosa at the northern tip of Lanzarote.
This all day excursion, operated by Lineas Romero, and at a cost of around ¤60 is real value for money. An all-inclusive, trip you are picked up from your hotel and delivered to the catamaran where drinks are free for the duration of the trip and a hot meal is also served together with snacks.
The knowledgeable crew deliver a history lesson while you relax with a drink before visiting the tiny island, which boasts the smallest museum in the world and tiny church dedicated to the tiny fishing industry.
With a population of around 300 everyone pretty much knows everyone else. The trip ends with a couple of hours for swimming, kayaking or sunbathing as the chef prepares the meal.
In this case a paella a fabulous, with prawns the size of small lobsters. A meal for two that would set you back a bundle on a mainland restaurant and it is washed down with plenty of drink. Another alternative is the Timanfaya National Park. With its unique ‘Martian’ landscape and rare plant species it offers visitors several demonstrations volcanic activity just a few metres below the surface where temperatures can reach 600°C.
Dry brush thrown into a hole in the ground catches fire immediately, while water poured into a bore hole erupts seconds later in the form of steam – like a mini-geyser. Impressive.
If it’s possible to want a break from the all-encompassing comfort of the hotel, the town features plenty of evening entertainment with lively bars.
Lanzarote is a rarity for the likes of us, who don’t usually return to the same holiday destination. To date, we have visited four times and would not hesitate to go again. It a real jewel in the Canaries crown.