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Located just 78 miles off the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands have for the past ten years been slowly moving away from the beachside hotel apartment blocks. No more Magaluf madness or Ibiza house music as the chic new hotels turn away from the full English breakfast crowd.
Today the Canaries are interested in promoting themselves as a chic winter escape with a healthy eco-friendly image where tourists come to hike, cycle and surf, rather than to party into the night and recover the next day while lying on the beach.
Leading the way in this new way of thinking is the easternmost Island of Lanzarote, a volcanic playground created just over 300 years ago when 100 volcanoes erupted leaving a desolate Martian-looking landscape that is now home to the 51.07 square kilometre Timanfaya National Park.
Blessed with an eternal late spring-like temperature there is never a bad time to visit Lanzarote even during the peak summer months of July and August when the thermometer peaks around a very comfortable 24ºC.
Accommodation in Lanzarote is as varied as the island itself, from the family friendly “Blue Flag” beach hotels of Puerto Del Carmen and Costa Teguise to the elegant boutique hotels and luxury yurts that are springing up to service a more discerning guest, there is something that will appeal to everyone’s taste.
Things to do
Lanzarote is far more than just a beach vacation with exciting nightlife and tax-free shopping, it is also home to some of the best surfing and mountain bike trails in Europe.
Surfing has taken off in a big way recently, and thanks to the uninterrupted Atlantic swells and constant trade winds that produce big waves; the east coast of Lanzarote is now being called the Hawaii of Europe.
Cross Country Mountain biking on Lanzarote is something you cannot experience anywhere else in Europe as you weave your way between lava rocks and craters that have been left over from the island's fiery past.
Diving is popular in Lanzarote particularly along the south-east coast where it is possible to access some of the main dive-sites directly from the beach. This ease of access and the fact you do not need a boat makes Lanzarote one of the best places you can go to obtain your PADI certificate.
Sport fishing in the Canaries has long been a popular activity, in Lanzarote as you do not have to go far from port to have the chance of landing a large Marlin or migrating Tuna. The best time of year to catch a top game fish is June through September as the fish pass by the island on their way to their winter feeding grounds in the Caribbean.
Food and Drink
When you talk about typical Lanzarote dishes you are of course referring to the fantastic seafood that is abundant in the Canaries. Despite the island's proximity to the African coast and the New World influences that arrived on the island following Christopher Columbus discovering America, Lanzarote is typically Spanish and so is the food. Being a popular destination for tourists from all over Europe you will be able to find all your home comforts in the many international restaurants that dot the towns on the south coast, but should you venture to the north be prepared for the more traditional Spanish fare.
As far as drinks are concerned the Islanders love Cuba Libras when it's fiesta time, but will drink the locally brewed Dorada and Tropical lager style beer throughout the year. Surprisingly Lanzarote has 18 vineyards where they grow grapes in volcanic ash. El Grifo is the oldest Bodega on the island founded in 1775 and also Lanzarote’s biggest producer. The wine isn’t half bad either, but you will be hard-pressed to find it in your local supermarket.