THE dramatic eruption on the Canary Island of La Palma had hit the headlines but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my visit to a neighbouring volcanic gem.
Lanzarote is known as “the island of the 1,000 volcanoes” because eruptions took place there for six years from 1730 and lava covered a quarter of the island’s surface.
But the last big bang was in 1824, meaning it is now classed as dormant.
And with year-round balmy temperatures, dramatic landscapes and unique architecture, it served up just the right ingredients for our first ever family holiday with our two-year-old son Alexander.
Home for the week was the Los Jameos resort in Puerto del Carmen on the southeast coast of the island.
Its vast lobby is a riot of colour with rustic beams, wooden balconies and abundant plants recreating the feel of a typical Canarian inner courtyard.
The hotel is inspired by César Manrique, the Lanzarote-born artist and architect who transformed the island with his signature style.
In line with his philosophy, the hotel is made up of Spanish hacienda-style blocks no more than four storeys high, set in sub-tropical gardens.
A renovation in lockdown has transformed the pools, bars and many of the bedrooms.
Our family room was spacious and beautifully decorated in the traditional blues and whites with a roomy en suite featuring bath, shower and double sinks.
The fancy coffee machine and mini bar meant we could take full advantage of our balcony. Overlooking the pool, it came complete with two comfy sun loungers, table and chairs.
There was ample unpacking space too but all Alexander wanted to do was explore. My previous holidays have been spent relaxing with a book but I quickly realised this was going to be a very different kind of break.
Los Jameos is geared up for it. They have a children’s club with a climbing frame, slide, swings and a sand pit. There is free childcare for more than fours but Alexander could still join in the activities with us.
The hotel is centered around four pools, including two for kids and one that is heated in the colder months. Lanzarote has 300 days of sunshine a year but it was lovely to be in the heated one because we spent A LOT of time in it. Alexander only agreed to emerge to eat and drink.
The hotel offers various meal plans and we had opted for all-inclusive. The main restaurant, with its colourful interior and palm tree-lined terrace, was faultless. It offered a variety of theme nights plus tapas, paella, salads and vegan specialities.
What really impressed me was the local fresh fish and meat cooked to order. We ate tuna steaks, squid, prawns, lamb cutlets and pork chops.
Drinks were top-notch named spirits and good wines with sangria and beer on tap.
I am not a fan of cheesy holiday entertainment. Luckily they got this spot on with varied performances, from local and traditional guitarists to impressive magicians, singers and dancers and at a variety of venues throughout the hotel so you could pick and choose what you did — or didn’t — see.
Car hire is reasonable and it would be a crime to visit Lanzarote and not explore beyond the hotel.
The landscape is rugged and evidence of the historic volcanoes is everywhere, giving the island a dramatic, moon-like appearance.
Manrique loved it so much he built his wacky home in Tahiche in five natural volcanic bubbles connected by tunnels. It is now a museum and has been left just as it was when he died in 1992.
GETTING THERE: EasyJet flies to Lanzarote from Gatwick, Manchester, Luton, Liverpool and Bristol with fares from £24.99 one way. See easyjet.com.
STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Seaside Los Jameos starts at £504pp, based on two adults and one child (under 12) sharing a family room, arriving December 9, 2021. Free cancellation up to one day before arrival. See los-jameos.com.
OUT & ABOUT: See aquariumlanzarote.com and for Manrique’s house, see fcmanrique.org and elgrifo.com.
The nutrient-rich volcanic soil is even good for wine. The vineyards are breathtaking with the green vines in stark contrast to the pitch-black earth.
The oldest winery in the Canary Islands is El Grifo, in the centre of Lanzarote. You can visit, see its museum and have a 40-minute tour for 15 euros. And, obviously buy some of the excellent wine.
The Lanzarote Aquarium, also 15 euros per adult, was a big hit with Alexander, especially the touch pools where you could feel — and thankfully not squish — small species such as sea urchins.
And he was equally as pleased splashing about in the shallows on the sandy beach at Playa Matagorda. Just seconds from the hotel, it is backed by palm trees and more of that dramatic black volcanic rock.
While La Palma may be struggling with its latest eruption, Lanzarote definitely proves the volcanic activity’s legacy is a dramatic and fascinating landscape and perfect winter sun destination.
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