Haría: from the leafy palm grove to the volcanic badlands
We explore a municipality that is gift-wrapped in every colour: the green of the Canary Island date palms, the blue of the coastal villages, the dark volcanic landscape and the immaculate sands of Caletón Blanco
The descent towards Haría leaves the visitor open-mouthed. The calm caution which the road to Malpaso forces drivers to use is perfect for the enjoyable discovery of the Valley of a Thousand Palms.
The native specimens of Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island date palm, which are cultivated in European and American countries for their elegance, frame a village characterised by its respect for tradition and its rural environment.
Fig trees and prickly pear cactus alternate with these slender trees that the wind barely stirs in a place that seems to live an eternal spring. It’s Saturday morning and as the sun slips through the leaves, you can hear the bustle of the Plaza León and Castillo. We are in the town centre zigzagging between the stalls of the traditional market.
The works of art created by the hands of the craftsmen and women are a delight to see. Here you can pick out the labyrinthine patterns created by the threads of the rosette, a typical Canarian variety of lace, and there you can try on shiny olivine earrings, all the while filling your bags with organic fruit and vegetables.
Haría is a symbol of sustainability and care for the environment. These impressive characteristics led the artist César Manrique not only to create three of his tourist centres here – the Mirador del Río, the Jameos del Agua and the Cueva de los Verdes – but also to make it his home, transforming a ruined farmhouse into his new home in 1986, where he lived until his death six years later.
In 2013, this space was opened to the public as a unique museum where visitors can explore the personal environment and workshop in which the Lanzarote-born genius worked during his last period.
We continue walking until we reach the Ermita de las Nieves, just as hundreds of pilgrims do every 5th of August during the festivities celebrating the historical patron saint of Lanzarote. While you walk, enjoy the landscape around the old Camino Real that used to link Haría and the former capital of the island, Teguise.
The mist envelops the walker on this easy hike that ends at the top of the Risco, where the building (which the Lanzarote architect Enrique Spínola built in 1966 after demolishing the remains of an old Mudejar temple) is located at one of the most impressive natural viewpoints. From here another three treasures can be seen: the Playa de Famara, El Jable and the Chinijo Archipelago.
This sight will awaken the visitor’s hunger for the ocean, so it’s time to turn your course towards two conjoined coastal towns that cannot be missed. Start at Arrieta, where the pier and La Garita beach are packed with locals every weekend. Children walk along the boardwalk and jump into the water accompanied by that laughter that is only heard during a happy childhood.
Sample fresh fish, potatoes with mojo sauce and fried cheese with fig jam while hypnotized by the eternal struggle between surfers and waves.
With this taste of the sea lingering in your mouth, it’s time to go, but not before approaching the building known as Chalet de Arrieta, La Casa China or La Juanita, an unusual house with its striking red colour and oriental style, so different from the traditional architecture of Lanzarote, and whose sad history is so moving.
It was built by the Haría-born Juan de León Perdomo in an ill-fated attempt to save his daughter, who had tuberculosis, and its image is a symbol of the town.
After just 30 minutes on foot you will find yourself at Punta Mujeres. The peace and quiet of this coastal enclave does not go unnoticed either by the people of Lanzarote or by the island’s tourists, who enjoy its fishing essence and its traditional architecture.
The quality is enhanced by its comfortable natural pools equipped with walls and stairs, perfect for families with children and for those who wish to take a dip in the ocean, avoiding the sometimes dangerous currents of the open sea.
Within the rich chromatic palette of Haría, it’s time to change the blue for black by entering the Natural Monument of La Corona, surrounded by the volcanic badlands, a vast expanse of some 1,500 hectares of lava (pyroclastic rock and lapilli, to be exact) dotted by native plants such as tabaiba dulce (Euphorbia balsamifera), broom and the endemic succulent veroles, (Kleinia neriifolia).
This is a unique space through which the runners of the tough Haría Extreme sports event compete and where the stubborn and uncomplaining farmers of Lanzarote have also managed to create areas for the cultivation of grape vines, prickly pear cactus and fruit trees. The dark badlands country stands in stark contrast to the white sands of Caletón Blanco, a haven of oceanic peace bordering on Órzola, a fishing village from whose port you can set off for La Graciosa.
To delight in this charming island, which together with the islets of Montaña Clara and Alegranza and the Este and Oeste rocks make up the Chinijo Archipelago, it’s time to head for the Mirador del Río, another jewel from the hand of Cesar Manrique, where you can enjoy the last coffee of the day while enjoying the caress of a new colour, the reddish sunset which reminds visitors that the light of Lanzarote is unique. It makes you want to take off from this high watchtower, flying to land sweetly on the island of La Graciosa.
But that’s another story 😉