Lanzarote

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

As much as I like to cozy up next to a fire in a warm gastro pub in London, I was very much looking forward to be able to trade my layers for a bit of sunshine. Scratch that – if there was one thing I was determined to do in Lanzarote, this was sunbathing. Every. Single. Day. Yes, I would need a lot of sunshine for that.

Of course, as someone who grew up in the Canary Islands, I am well aware that even Europe’s year-round beach destination can’t guarantee impeccable weather – specially not in February. So every day until the day we flew south, I wished for uninterrupted sunshine at our arrival.

And as we arrived, we realised that for once, weather was on our side.

With an average of 23-25ºC during the day, we woke up early to stretch our time out in the sunshine. We lunched on sunny terraces overlooking the sea and spent lazy afternoons drinking cold gin tonics next to our pool.

And then there was the day we visited Playa Papagayo.

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Playa Papagayo, hidden away in Los Ajaches Natural Reserve, is a crescent of natural white sand protected by rocky cliffs. It is said to be one of Lanzarote’s most beautiful beaches – and I have no doubt about it.

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

The entire island boasts a lot of natural (and unconventional) beauty because of its volcanic nature. During the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of eruptions created over 300 new volcanic peaks which can be found spread around the small island. Its volcanic nature also accounts for the different colour layers in its earth – ranging from black to red to almost white.

While we did sunbathe (a lot) in Papagayo, I’m an antsy pants and can hardly ever hold still for more than half an hour, so I set off to explore the surroundings.

Playa Papagayo might be the best known beach in the Natural Reserve, but it’s got some tough competition out there. It’s neighbouring beaches Playa Mujeres, Pozo, Congrío and Muelas, all compete with its beauty. Their further distance from the main car park and lack of beach hut serving cold drinks guarantee a much quieter stay away from the tourists.

Perfect for beach hopping!

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Practical Information: There is a 3€ charge to access Los Ajaches Natural Reserve – but believe me, it’s well worth it.

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While others might study the beach possibilities, I researched the best hiking adventure in Lanzarote. And by the best, I mean one that includes lava fields and volcanoes without requiring advanced hiking skills, an excellent condition or two cars on two ends of a trail.

I chose Canldera Blanca because it was short, didn’t require alpine boots but still seemed to offer an authentic volcanic experience. And I don’t regret the choice – it was probably the easiest most rewarding hike on the island!

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

The starting point is a car park close to the tiny town of Mancha Blanca. Following the signs, we spent the first 45min or so walking through a lava field. While this part of the trail doesn’t offer any views, it’s still an interesting walk – we inspected the lava stones and glimpsed into the inside of a smaller crater (Montaña Caldereta) on our way.

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Once at the bottom of Caldera Blanca, we faced a gentle diagonal climb and soon reached the top of the crater.

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Hiking Caldera Blanca in Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Spain)

Caldera Blanca, Lanzarote (Canary Islands, Spain)

We turned to the left to walk up to the summit, from which point I believe is a descent back to the bottom of the crater and I also spotted some more adventurous hikers walking round the crater in the distance. Unfortunately it became very windy and decided to return via the same route we had come up (safety comes first!).

Practical Information

Route: Caldera Blanca (round trip)
Elevation gain uphill: 300m approx.
Elevation gain downhill: 300m approx.
Length: around 7km
Duration: 3 hrs (including break)
Difficulty: Easy (closed shoes necessary)
Wikiloc: Caldera Blanca – Lanzarote (This one is the trip around the crater).

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