35 Things to Love About Lanzarote – Part One
With James Villas turning 35 in 2019 we find ourselves reminiscing back to 1984, when one man took one apartment in up and coming Lanzarote and offered it out to holidaymakers looking for their place in the sun. The rest, as they say, is history. One apartment became two, then three. Villas followed along with new destinations, until we are where we are today – 3,100 villas and counting across 60 destinations.
They say you never forget your first love, and so it is with James Villas. Lanzarote where it all began has a special place in our heart. 144 villas, seven resorts and one dreamy destination… Here are our first nine of 35 things to love about Lanzarote – part one of a trilogy (after all, good things come in threes)!
Taro de Tahiche – the César Manrique Foundation
Lanzarote is simply synonymous with legendary local architect César Manrique. Look at the low-rise white sugar cube architecture and thank Lanzarote’s lucky stars (more on those later) that his foresight enshrined into law that this holiday haven be protected from sprawling mass tourism. Preserving and celebrating the island’s natural beauty, today’s visitors bask in year round sun and ethereal volcanic vistas – not a concrete jungle of high-rise hotels.
His influence can be found in nearly all of the island’s most spectacular sightseeing spots, starting with his house – Taro de Tahiche – now the home of the César Manrique Foundation. The story goes like this. Hunting through Lanzarote’s lava fields, he found a spot where he could quite literally cement his vision for the island from the ground up. Five volcanic bubbles were transformed, tunnelled and turned into rooms.
It was highly progressive at its time. Dark volcanic stone, bright white walls, bold statement décor, even a fig tree turned centrepiece growing up from the floor through an open sky light. Not to mention the sunken garden, complete with climbing cacti and an idyllic pool. It’s sure to invoke wide eyed wonder and some serious house-envy.
Once a home, it’s now a peaceful preservation of nature, art and architecture entwined – and a homage to the island’s national treasure – the man himself. Arguably more valuable even than its coveted art collection (which includes a Picasso, no less), is its role as a defining part of Lanzarote’s landscape today.
Timanfaya National Park
The ying to Manrique’s yang is Lanzarote’s volcanic backdrop. 1730 saw one of the longest eruptions ever on record. For six years long lava bubbled and spewed, sending up an ash cloud and snuffing out the sun so worshipped by today’s tourists. It’s redemption, the Timanfaya National Park. Craggy and arid, scorched soil marbles in tones of black, ochre, copper and back-to-black, covering a quarter of the island in a spellbinding lunar-like landscape.
Although now dormant, you can’t miss the distinctive
smell of sulphur – or wander where you please. It is a volcano after all! You
can however join an organised tour, topped off with a visit to the El Diablo
restaurant. This is a barbecue like no other. Think 10 metres down, 300°C
and your lunch cooked to a ‘T’ (bone) by geothermal heat. If the shock of a
sudden geyser eruption doesn’t have you out of the seat, the views certainly
will. You could say it’s an attraction of seismic proportions!
Aqualava Waterpark, Playa Blanca
If you’re a lover of Lanzarote’s landscape but need some relief from the rays then splash down in Aqualava Waterpark for a soaking in scenic tribute to the island’s volcanic surrounds. The pools are heated through geothermal energy, so you can drift down the lazy ‘Magma River’ in sustainable style. From white knuckle, white water rides at Timan-Fire to beach-like lounging in the salt water wave pool, there are fun frolics for the tiniest tots to the oldest man-child.
Villa Buena Vista Bocaina, Playa Blanca
Of course you’ll need a (not-so-humble) home-from-home to truly enjoy all of Lanzarote’s loveliness. Step up, the gorgeous Villa Buena Vista Bocaina, epitomising everything we love about Lanzarote! Have a peep and you’ll soon see why. Crisp Canarian white, a luxurious traditional finish and breathtaking volcanic views of the Montana Roja slopes and the glistening waters of the Bocaina Straight – we feel César Manrique would approve. Tick off from your wish list a 12m pool, hot tub, glorious alfresco area and even use of a tennis court. That’s a ‘full house’ of holiday happiness!
Papas arrugadas con mojo
These wrinkled spuds might not look that appetising, but bear with us. Papas arrugadas are served all over the island. Boiled in salt water until it evaporates, they’re served up alongside a Canarian sauce called mojo verde – the green, or mojo picon – the spicier red! Bursting with herby, garlicy flavour and a salty-tang, it’s a side order that gives the humble potato its ‘mojo’ back for sure.
La Geria vineyards
You can thank that six year volcanic eruption for Lanzarote’s layer of mineral rich and fertile ground, making for great grape growing conditions – if you know how. There are several vineyards to tour and taste in the La Geria region. Visit and see the unique cultivation in action, as individual vines are planted in circular hollows, covered with black volcanic ash. The Malvasía grape is one of the world’s oldest and you’ll find reds, whites and roses throughout the sweetness scale in the many ‘bodegas’ or wine shops.
Canary Islands Day
It’s not just holidaymakers head over heels with Lanzarote, naturally the locals are proud patriots! That’s why Canary Islands Day on the 30th May (celebrating the first sitting of an autonomous Canarian Parliament) is always such a big occasion. You’re cordially invited to join the festivities. Flag flying, flower festooned, Canarian costumes and all. With street parties and parades in swing alongside pop up markets to the soundtrack of traditional folk music, what more reason do you need to get that volcanic-made wine flowing?
Caletón Blanco beach
Blanco by name, blanco by beautiful white sand… This collection of coves cluster together in mass-worship of sublime turquoise waters. Breezier than some but utterly beautiful, pack up a picnic and set off for a day of family fun. With a peppering of dark volcanic stone, Mother Nature has used quite the colour palette here. Like any good parent she’s also taken extra care to keep the kids amused. Calm waters and natural rocky tide pools are the perfect place for even the littlest hands and feet to dabble and paddle.
Peñas del Chache
An amateur astronomer’s attraction of galactic proportions, count Lanzarote’s lucky stars from the viewing point at Peñas del Chache. The easy drive up to the 670m summit of the highest peak isn’t quite the interstellar adventure you might expect, but the view from the top is quite literally out of this world! To the north of Haría you leave behind the bright lights of a holiday hub and gaze in awe instead at a starry canopy above. The Milky Way – a hazy band of stars shimmer overhead, punctuated by the most luminent. Antares is part of the Scorpius constellation, but you can also spot Sagittarius in summer skies, perhaps even showering Perseids. So don’t forget your binoculars!
With a fine nine so far to whet your appetite, soon you’ll know (and love) Lanzarote as much as we do! Look out for part two of 35 things to love about Lanzarote, or find a villa in Lanzarote and see this Canarian island idyll for yourself.