Eau de Lanzarote: coves, beaches and natural pools to enjoy this summer
“Happiness was this.” “Salty is better.” Monday, 25 May 2020 was not just any old Monday. After two months denied the pleasure, we could again swim in the Atlantic, raking the sea with our thirsty bodies, leaving effervescent wakes of salty bubbles behind. Today we bring you a little guide to enjoying the hidden treasures of the beaches of Lanzarote.
If toning your muscles were to make any kind of sound, the atmosphere of Lanzarote would have been filled with a comforting jingle.
Swimmers’ ankles lost their puffiness. Their calves, which had been tight and stressed for a while, relaxed. What happiness to return to the primeval soup!
Which beach to choose? Sandy or rocky? Which direction to go in? What time to go? We’ll help you choose.
Calm waters, snorkelling and marine biology
Swimming next to a sea cucumber or admiring the iridescent blue blobs of a black Canary damsel fish is a possibility for anybody who likes to swim. You don’t have to be David Meca or go in very deep. All you need is a swimsuit, girls and boys.
At the small Playa del Ancla in the village of Las Caletas, you will be able to do so safely, because you will be protected from the currents by a breakwater. This is also popularly known as Playa del Rey (King’s Beach), because these same waters, barely 400 metres away, lap the shores of La Mareta, the royal residence which is National Heritage and in whose design César Manrique and Fernando Higueras participated.
What is truly regal about this sandy and rocky beach is its turquoise/marine-blue waters and the species that swim among the rocks at the base of the cliffs, such as the colourful Mediterranean parrotfish showing off their beautiful crimson bodies. It is advisable to wear water shoes to make getting into the water more comfortable.
Another small cove, with a fantastic fish display and a lot more sand, is in Puerto del Carmen and is called Playa Chica. It is not uncommon to see divers in full neoprene gear and with oxygen tanks heading into greater depths that enjoy even greater marine biodiversity.
Two centuries ago, the puddles and sharp stones that frame this picture-postcard beach were used to crush saltwort plants and make them release their seeds. This plant species, known as barrilla locally, was one of the driving forces of Lanzarote’s economy in the 18th century, because from its ashes soda was obtained for soap making in the British and French industries. So if you see “Pila de la Barrilla” on a map or hear it on the lips of a local, you’ll know they are referring to this little beach that is a must see.
If the world is ending… Well, let’s just hope it’ll catch you here.
Janubio beach is wild. One of the wildest. A place that shouldn’t be underestimated. Its red flag is a permanent fixture: you don’t even have to look at the colour of the warning flag, just put one foot on the black shore and you’ll notice the strong waves.
Behind you: the rosary of volcanoes in Timanfaya. Before you: black basalt cliffs carved by the brutal encounter of lava spilled into the sea. The sunsets are epic. We are also in an old Royal Port and in one of Lanzarote’s places of geological interest, with a coastal lagoon closed by the eruptions of 1730.
From the west, to the north. Now it’s time to visit one of the hidden jewels of the beach kingdom of Lanzarote. The Bajo el Risco beach is the final reward for hikers who descend a zigzagging gravel path before climbing back up again to the top of the Famara cliffs. You don’t have to be a hiking club member, but you do have to be in a minimally acceptable physical shape and not suffer from vertigo. It is an idyllic but dangerous spot – suitable only for good swimmers and those who are knowledgeable about the tides.
These are the conditions imposed by the Camino de Los Gracioseros, which begins in the village of Ye and which was used last century by the incredible women of La Graciosa carrying baskets of fresh fish and farm produce on their heads. Thinking about them as you walk the path will put you firmly in your place. Once at the bottom, you can bathe in a sea of turquoise waters, sheltered by the 700 metres of the Famara cliffs, isolated from all the hustle and bustle and looking out at the piratical profile of La Graciosa. It is well worth the trouble, and demands sunscreen, a hat, shoes with a good grip and good weather.
So you’re not willing to take on a climb? Famara. Rain, thunder or sunshine: Famara. Here, the sea spray fertilizes the brain and opens up new worlds. This is an impressive 4 km beach with the Famara cliffs forming the horizon and the fishing and surfing village of La Caleta providing a possible gastronomic finish after the swim. Swimming in Famara has to be limited to just a few splashes because the red flag flies all year round. For better or worse, the beach is exposed to the northern swell.
The currents bless the practice of surfing but make it one of the most dangerous places for swimming. At low tide it offers soft, delicious sands for running, jumping, drawing with your feet, doing yoga, reading or thinking about life with renewed perspective. This is the birthplace of the Jable corridor, which feeds the desert agriculture of the interior with rich sand of marine origin.
Natural pools, with and without steps
The first swim of the season in the Charcones de Janubio is a before and after moment. The salt spray penetrates to the marrow. You are in the south of the island, between Pechiguera and Janubio, on your way to nowhere. In your backpack you’ve got the required water shoes and snacks (enyesquito in the Canary dialect) because you’re going to go down to meet the sea without the help of steps and you’re going to do it on the sea’s terms.
Here the ocean fills the pools of volcanic origin and the small puddles with pebbly bottoms with clear water, so it is essential to keep the time of high and low tide in mind if you want a proper swim. The trail has a high level of difficulty and it can be hazardous.
In the beautiful town of Punta Mujeres, the natural pools are warm and designed for human comfort. There are several metal staircases that allow you to plunge in the right place: an enclosed pool, perfect for kids and people escaping the waves, others more exposed to the waves, which share space with fishing coracles. Enjoy some octopus tentacles to silence the hunger afterwards in one of the restaurants in the village.
Another little gem for the perfect Zen swim is the Casa China de Arrieta pool. It sits calmly at the foot of this villa built by a resident of Haria for his daughter to enjoy the sea breeze and recover from a respiratory illness. The house was originally called Casa Juanita, in honour of the little girl.
Not far from this village, which has a spectacular restaurant offer, you can take the LZ1, leaving it at one of the car parks serving Caletón Blanco to bathe in its aquamarine waters.
This is a landscape of overwhelming beauty due to the contrast between the black lava ejected by La Corona volcano 20,000 years ago and the very white sands of organic origin formed by millions of shells crushed by the passage of time. The colours and shapes of the plants in this Martian habitat are well worth gazing at.
Naturist coves offering happy coexistence
If you practice naturism, you can happily live out your days in Lanzarote. The Charco del Palo is one of the places where people leave their clothes at home and swim, walk, take the dog out and shop at the supermarket, all in the nude.
There are three pools shielded by socos (stone crescents that protect from the wind) where swimming is as refreshing as it is safe. Nowhere does it say “no bathing in a bikini or swimsuit”, of course, but it is rare to see such clothing in this bathing area. When they are present, peace is guaranteed.
In the Barranco del Quíquere in Tías, naturists and textiles coexist in a completely natural way. A stone staircase guarantees a simple descent of 15 metres to the natural pools. For those who want to finish their day in a sporty way, you can climb the stairs back and continue walking the beautiful kilometre and a half hike that leads to Puerto Calero.
It’s impossible to finish this list without including the paradisiacal Caleta del Congrio in Papagayo, also mixed and located in the heart of the Monumento Natural de los Ajaches. This is where the island began to emerge 15 million years ago. El Papelillo, at the end of Famara beach, is also a mixed zone where naturists, textiles and surfers live together.
Chlorine-free and with maximum buoyancy. The beaches of Lanzarote are a luxury alternative to swimming in artificial pools 365 days a year.
The Reducto, Arrecife’s urban beach, has just raised its Blue Flag again and is a perfect area for family gatherings and open water swimming training that extends to the Castillo de San Gabriel, passing through the wetlands of the Parque Islas Canarias and the Muelle de la Pescadería.
Don’t get mad at us if you don’t see your favourite beach in this guide. There are so many and they are so exceptional that we’ve run out of space before reviewing them all. To find out about them in their entirety, you can visit our beach directory and look for the one you want, by municipality and by type of waves or sand.
Wherever you are, the sea gives us life: swimming, harvesting the sun’s rays, observing marine creatures, building sand castles, having a snack on a sunbed, reading in the shade of a palm tree or absolute rest enveloped by the sea breeze.
See you on the shore!