Many people head for the Canary Islands for its gorgeous year-round weather, and Lanzarote just off the coast of Africa certainly has that, but there's a lot more to this most-easterly of Canary Islands than first meets the eye. In fact, Lanzarote is fast becoming the 'destination of the moment.'
Although the whole island was made a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1993, only in recent years has this been fully recognised by those who visit. Lured initially by the year-round sun, now it seems other aspects of the island are gaining the attention they deserve. Apart from the unique lunar landscape of the Timanfaya National Park - there are some beautiful white-sand beaches, jaw-dropping national parks, quaint fishing villages and open countryside, even notable vineyards. And those visiting are making the most of this - cycling, walking, surfing, sampling wines and even taking camel rides across the Timanfaya National Park. It's no wonder a certain wave of eco-chic trips have sprung up, with such diverse, natural, rugged and pretty surroundings. The contrasts on this island are striking to say the least.
Apart from the Timanfaya National Park with its 51km of lunar landscape, the beaches really are beautiful. Playa Blanca meaning 'white beach' is just that - the last thing you might expect from Lanzarote. Boasting a bustling marina, a seafront lined with shops, bars and restaurants and yes, dazzlingly-white sand, this is one popular resort. Papagayo and Caleton Blanco are also amongst the lovely beaches. Puerto del Carmen has something for everyone, a coastline punctuated with sandy coves, a charming harbour, the upmarket residential area of Los Mojones and 'the strip' for those wanting a livelier evening out. And then there's old towns likes Tias where you don't have to look very far for a traditional Canarian eaterie. It's a diverse offering from a diverse island.
Want to get active? Not only can you take part in a number of water-sports on Lanzarote's beaches, an initiative has seen numerous walking trails spring up that make hiking and cycling across the island a fantastic experience.
And, thanks to the late Cesar Manrique, a Lanzarote native and artist, the island remains relatively unspoilt. With a major influence on planning regulations, he encouraged sympathetic development of tourism, protecting the beauty of this stunning Canary island. Thank you Cesar!