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My velvet escape travel tip” is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

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The volcanic landscapes of Timanfaya NP

There are lots of fascinating attractions on the popular holiday island of Lanzarote. As whilst this small speck of Spain located just off the coast of Africa is widely regarded as a bucket and spade beach destination, it is also home to a host of natural wonders. Such as the majestic Timanfaya Volcano Park – the scene of a series of enormous eruptions which transformed much of the interior into a lunar like wasteland. Or the Green Lagoon – a sea water fed lake that has been turned a bright emerald colour by a chemical reaction involving volcanic minerals and sea salt. The bizarre landscapes and vivid colours often remind me of the magical surrealism genre, in which the ‘real’ and the ‘fantastic’ are seamlessly intertwined.

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El Golfo

But my favourite spot, the Valley of 1000 Palms – lies well off the tourist trail – in the north of the island. An area widely regarded by locals to be the real heart and soul of Lanzarote. It is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the resorts and retains a strong rural identity whilst also providing a verdant antidote to the barren aridity of the south.

This is where I come to get away from the (relatively) modern face of Lanzarote – and to connect with the more traditional and relaxed lifestyle that lured me to this small island off the coast of Morocco in the first place. The picture postcard village of Haria nestled in the folds of this valley always does the job. Its tranquil, peaceful presence never ceases to wash over me like a wave.

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Haria in the valley of a thousand palms

Market days on Saturday mornings in Haria are my idea of a Velvet Escape. The promise of a weekend just starting, beautiful fresh produce piled high on trestle tables and makeshift stalls and the smell of traditional bread fresh out of the oven. I drink it all in whilst sipping a small strong cortado at my favourite outdoor table at the Dos Hermanos cafe as the sounds of a more civilised form of commerce – a million miles removed from supermarkets and shopping centres – echo around me.

The village is all white washed traditional houses punctuated with splashes of bougainvillea. Over the centuries the inhabitants here have followed the charming tradition of planting one Canarian palm tree for every new born girl in the village and two for a boy. A politically incorrect policy I would say but one that has created an enormous oasis, with the crowns of countless palms swaying gently in the breeze.

Island historians trace all this back to the 16th century – when Lanzarote was subjected to regular pirate raids as buccaneers such as Drake and Raleigh attempted to get their hands on the Inca silver that was being transported between the New World and the Old via Lanzarote. Marauding raiders are said to have burnt many trees in and around Haria to the ground. Over the centuries, the appetite to restore the valley to its former verdant glory fluorished. Either way it’s a captivating sight – especially on an island that is otherwise so devoid of greenery.

Read about things to do in Lanzarote.

Nick Ball
Nick Ball

About this week’s guest writer
Nick Ball has lived on Lanzarote in the north of the island for over eight years with his wife and dog and is the editor of Lanzarote Guidebook – the in-depth tourist guide to Lanzarote. Visit the Lanzarote Guidebook for a free in-depth guide to Lanzarote.

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14 Responses

  • Hi Dean,

    Wow, thanks for your feedback! Glad my post helped you to enjoy the island. It’s been a while since I was there but I’m sure you’ll be able to find lots of tips via the tourism board’s website: http://www.turismolanzarote.com/en/
    Have a great trip – exploring by car is definitely the way to go!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • Keith we visited lanzarote last year after reading your top ten tips of things to do there it certainly didn’t disappoint we’re going back again on 8th October for 2 week and would like to see more of the less tourist side of the island by car of course any tips on ware to go to do this thanks. Dean & tracy

  • Thanks for your comment. I’m in Lanzarote right now and enjoying every bit of it. It’s an amazing island for sure!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • Great to read positive things about lanzarote, it’s a beautiful place and we love living here.

    If you haven’t been i’d recommend it to anyone, there’s so much to see and do.

    Love the blog too Keith, it’s my first time here!

  • Hi Guy

    Development on the island is well contained – there are just three tourist resorts all of which are located on the south east coast. And no high rise buildings. So Lanzarote feels much less touched by tourism than the larger islands such as Tenerife. Head for villages such as Famara, Arrieta and Playa Quemada for the real deal.

  • I have wanted to visit the Canary Islands for a long time but didn’t really know where to start, but looking at Lanzarote, it seems to be a good choice. One thing that has held me back however is that I have heard much of the island is getting over developed and expanding tourism too aggressively because of low fare airlines. I would really like to visit a small authentic part of the island. Any recommendations?

    Thanks,
    Guy

  • hi we love lanzarote we first visited in 2000, we fell in love with it and have now been 19 times. we stay at playa de los pocillos it is a good flat area as i am disabled. the beach is fantastic and there are plenty shops, bars,and restaurant’s. the people are very welcoming and friendly. we have made many friends both spanish and english we look forward to going again in april 2010.. we would love to live in lanzarote that is our dream.. jenny allen..

  • Hi Ms. Traveling Pants,
    Thanks for your comment. I haven’t been to Lanzarote myself (only Las Palmas on Gran Canaria) but this article certainly makes me want to go. For more tips, I suggest checking out Nick’s Lanzarote guidebook site and/or getting in touch with Nick.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  • looking at the second shot sends shivers down my spine! gorgeous! too bad I have never been Lanzarote.. it should be on my list of places to visit now!

  • Fenominal!
    I have not been to Lanzarote, but want to. The picture of the whitewashed homes combined with the interesting yet “gender biased” tradition of planting palm trees, makes this post truly one of a kind.
    I have been to the Canarias but I went to Tenerife. Definitely, it is time to return in the near future.
    Anything that you would recommend on the foodie side of travel in Lanzarote? A typical bread, tapa, drink or dessert.
    Thanks.
    Ms Traveling Pants

  • I have lots of favourite spots in Lanzarote but choose to live in Haría for its character, people and relaxed atmosphere. There are a few great restaurants such as La Puerto Verde and Meson La Frontera and if you’re looking for a friendly bar you should pop in and say hello to Santiago in the Café opposite the bakery and next door to the deaf and dumb barber – yes you really can get a cut throat shave and a number 1 or 2 haircut complete with alcohol rub!

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