This week we took a day trip to Isla La Graciosa, a small island 2km from Lanzarote, separated from it by a strait called El Rio. This was in fact Jean de Béthencourt’s first landfall in the Canaries. La Graciosa’s geographic position at the far north of the Canaries archipelago, places it at the meeting points of the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters and directly opposite the Caribbean’s tropical currents. This results in waters which never fall below 18C and are exceedingly clear, however because of its open exposure none of La Graciosa’s beaches is safe for swimming.
The forty minute drive to Orzola for the ferry took us through the Malpais de la Corona, an area of badlands that stretches for 10km. The volcanic lava here flowed out of Mount Corona to the sea. Although the eruption took place about 6000 years ago, there is remarkably little vegetation on the surface of the black lava flow, apart from white lichens and a few clumps of spurges (euphorbia).
Orzola is the most northerly village in Lanzarote. It is a sleepy fishing settlement noted for its seafood restaurants and of course the ferry ‘port’. The boats run regularly and apart from passengers also carry supplies for the island.
Once out into the open sea it is very rough, you just have to keep your eyes on the horizon! Around the headland into the El Rio channel and it is immediately much calmer. Thirty minutes later and we arrive at the main settlement Caleta del Sebo.
There are only about 600 permanent residents on the island most of whom are involved in fishing. There are a few simple restaurants and limited accommodation. The scenery consists largely of deserted sandy beaches, sand dunes, barren plains and the cones of four extinct volcanoes. Montaña del Mojón, 188m, is the nearest to Caleta and has beautiful stratas.
There are no roads on La Graciosa and therefore no cars, just a few jeeps for traversing the sand. We decided to walk to Playa Francesa, approximately a 3km walk along the coast. We opted to walk along the beach, the tide was out and we found pretty patterns left in the sand.
After reaching Playa Francesa we decided to return by walking along the ‘road’ or sand track.
Although this looks quite smooth further along it was like wading through treacle, the sand was so deep and we returned to walking along the beach again. Apparently the best way to get around the island is by bicycle which can be hired at the port. I have to say, the only cyclists we saw were pushing their bikes as it was too difficult to ride them though the shifting sand.
We had a very pleasant, leisurely lunch sat in the the sun of El Girasol. Squid, grilled fish, croquetas and sardines were all delicious.
As we sat on the restaurant terrace we spotted the local bakery with a constant stream of customers. We had to investigate! What a fantastic selection, I was so sad that I didn’t have any room for anything. (However I later found I could squeeze in a wonderful ice cream cornet!)
The whole time we were on La Graciosa we tried to spot the Mirador El Rio at the top of the facing escarpment on Lanzarote. We visited it when we were last here in November and had spectacular views of La Graciosa, in fact the first photo of this blog was taken then. But try as we might we were unable to spot it, which means we might have to return there to suss it out!
We thoroughly enjoyed our little sojourn to Isla La Graciosa.