Playa Blanca – Lanzarote’s Pearl
Playa Blanca, which means White Beach, is the southernmost town on the Spanish Island of Lanzarote. Lanzarote is one of the seven islands which make up the Canary Islands and is the most easterly of the islands situated 78 miles / 125km off the Coast of Africa. It enjoys a subtropical desert climate and along with the other Canary Islands is a popular winter destination, which is what led to us deciding to visit in late November. Having endured our poorest summer in living memory, we wanted to feel the sun on our skin before winter really kicked in!
Ironically, after such a poor summer, our Autumn was actually great. On the morning we were travelling to the airport there was some snow on the mountains around Belfast though. The wings of our aircraft even needed to be sprayed with de-icer prior to take off, which was a first for us leaving from Belfast!
A little over four and a half hours later we were landing at Lanzarote’s main airport Arrecife and were met by warm sunshine. Nigel, the weather watching obsessive, had however noticed that the hot sunny weather of the previous fortnight was soon to be replaced by cooler, cloudier conditions … the weather gods really weren’t on our side for much of 2016! Our weather however, while not being perfect sunbathing weather every day, gave us the opportunity to really explore the island, true to our road tripping motto.
Martha was not a stranger to the Canary Islands, as she had spent several months in Gran Canaria as an au pair. But while Nigel had visited Lanzarote a number of times in the past, this was Martha’s first visit to this particular Canary Island.
The resort of Playa Blanca is a short 30 to 40 minute drive from the airport, via the quaint village of Yaiza. We were soon checking into our hotel, the Sentido H10 White Suites, which was about a five minute walk from Dorada Beach. We will be writing a separate article about our hotel in the near future as part of our new section on accommodation.
Developments on Lanzarote continue to be strictly controlled thanks to the legacy of the late César Manrique who encouraged only low-rise developments, which had to be painted in traditional colours. An attractive promenade runs for a number of miles along the length of the resort taking in a number of beaches, a harbour, a marina and a variety of shops and restaurants. Accommodation ranges from modest self-catering complexes right up to luxurious 5 star, all-inclusive resorts. Playa Blanca’s harbour is also where you will find the ferry companies, which make regular crossings to the nearby island of Fuerteventura every day.
The town of Playa Blanca is flanked by two natural attractions, which serve two purposes. Photographers will love the photographic opportunities (scroll to the bottom of the article for a selection of our best photos) and walkers/hikers will also appreciate the opportunity to get away from the beach or the pool for a while and stretch their legs amidst beautiful scenery.
Climbing Montaña Roja
The first of these attractions is Montaña Roja, red mountain, which is a volcanic crater with amazing views across the south of Lanzarote as well as the neighbouring Fuerteventura. A tip would be to climb it so that you are there for the sunset. It’s an easy climb and you can walk right around the crater once you reach the top. Allow about two hours for all of this. It would even make a great place for a picnic with a difference and children are totally able to make the climb (Nigel’s three are thrilled to be living proof for this statement). To get to Montaña Roja, take the main road out of Playa Blanca and turn left at the roundabout with the filling station in the direction of Faro de Pechiguera. Continue along this road until the third mini roundabout where you turn right at Jardines Del Sol. Continue on this road until you see a small sign on the left “Al Volcan” and “To The Volcano”. Park here and follow the trail up the mountain.
Discover the magical Papagayos Beaches
The second, and one of Lanzarote’s main attraction, are the Papagayo beaches to the east of Playa Blanca. Here, you will find a series of six idyllic coves and beaches, separated by cliffs and headlands with golden sand and crystal clear waters. Here, especially in the peak of the summer, you can escape the more crowded beaches of the main resort and find yourself a quiet stretch of beach with a backdrop of mountains and a view of Fuerteventura. The main reason why these beaches are more quiet is that the authorities don’t make it easy getting there! There is a road with a small admission charge but it is very rough and covered in potholes so you run the risk of damaging your rental car. There is also a water taxi from the main resort which lets you see the beaches from the sea. We would recommend driving as far as you can go to the end of the resort, where the Sandos Beach Papagayo Arena Hotel is located and walking from there along one of the trails. Doing this gives you the chance to fully appreciate the beauty of the area and a little exercise can’t hurt! Don’t go expecting lots of beach bars and toilet facilities as you will be disappointed, although there are a couple of beach bars at Playa de Papagayo, which is nearly the furthest point above a really beautiful sheltered cove. Bring a picnic with you and make a day of it or even just go in the late afternoon as we did to get an appetite before dinner! Even in late November we were able to start our walk around 4pm in warm evening sunshine and see the beaches yet still make it back to our car by 6.30 before it was completely dark. We would have made it back sooner if we hadn’t stopped so many times for photographs as the sunset cast its magical light over the beaches.
Coming soon we will explore the North of Lanzarote, as we explore El Golfo, Timanfaya National Park and Mirador Del Rio.