Fire & water in Lanzarote: Volcanic tours near the beach

Lanzarote’s unique landscape reminds you constantly of how the island was formed – by gigantic volcanic eruptions that have given it an otherworldly, lunar beauty. Of all the Canary Islands, it has the greatest contrast between the rugged interior and the soft, sun-kissed beaches. We think a trip that takes in both of these is the best way to experience the wonders of Lanzarote.

Crater expectations

In spite of the many volcanoes on the island, Lanzarote is perfectly safe. The last volcanic eruption was nearly 200 years ago, in 1824, while the last major ones were between 1730 and 1736. The latter eruptions devastated many small towns and villages, and gave rise to the Montanas del Fuego, or Fire Mountains. While the volcanoes are dormant, you can still feel their heat – just ten metres below the surface, it reaches 600 degrees.

A visit to the Timanfaya National Park is ideal to get a sense of the surreal landscape. Only tourists are allowed in the park, with guided trips complete with audio commentary. Because of the nature of the terrain, you can’t just wander freely, although guided camel rides are also available. You’ll see geysers venting their steam, hot springs with water arcing into the sky and a variety of unique flora and fauna.

The eruption of Monte Corona formed the Los Jameos del Agua Caves some 4000 years ago, but architect Cesar Manrique breathed life into them into the 1960s, fusing nature with art. They now host a 600-seat auditorium where concerts and screenings are frequently held, and the volcanic tubes were praised by Hollywood legend Rita Hayworth as, “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Round off your tour of the volcanic side of Lanzarote with a meal at the Restaurant del Diablo. Here they use the heat rising up from the underground to cook the food. The views of Timanfaya are unparalleled from this vantage point as you tuck into your geothermal barbecue.

Beach beauty

With year-round sunshine, Lanzarote is the perfect place to catch some rays and go swimming, and the range of beaches means you can find the ideal spot whether you want solitude or plenty of company on the sand.

Playa del Reducto is a 500-metre long beach in the city of Arrecife, its blue flag and wide choice of restaurants and cafes making it a great place for families with children. The popular resort area of Playa Blanca is home to many fine beaches, including the nearby Playa Flamingo and Playa Dorada, with postcard-picture sand. Papagayo is also close by, sheltered by cliffs on the island’s south. It gets crowded due to its beauty, but if it’s too busy, you’re only a short stroll from other options.

On the north of the island, Playa de Famara is less touristy, and draws surfers (and even surfing championships). While undeniably beautiful, with the backdrop of the volcanic Riscos de Famara cliffs, it is windy here, hence the popularity of watersports.

Whether you want to heat things up with a volcano visit or take a load off on the beach – or both – car hire in Lanzarote will open up this one-of-a-kind island to you, a great way to explore the most eccentric of the Canary Islands.