Introduction to Lanzarote

Beaches and blue skies over Lanzarote
The Canaries, outbursts of volcanic rock, scattered over some 7,541 square kilometres in the Atlantic Ocean, have been known as the Fortunate Islands since the days of antiquity. And Lanzarote, as many of its admirers will readily confirm, may well claim to be the most fortunate of them all.

"Aeneas and the Sybil (says Virgil in the Aeneid, Book VI) arrived at last to the lovely places, the peaceful gardens in the fortunate woods, the Fortunate Islands, where the happy spirits dwell. Their sky is purer and brighter than ours, so that the fields are bathed in a purple light. The fortunate ones know them and are able to locate their stars, because they are clearer and more resplendent than the rest."

Anyone who has visited Lanzarote must be well familiar with the Ancient Roman authors meaning the islands lovely pure light with its purple aura at dusk and a night sky packed with millions of bright stars.

The visitor to Lanzarote, here just for some February sunshine or to carry on a blossoming love affair with the island, will also recognise what an even earlier author wrote. The Greek writer Homer in The Odyssey described what many historians believe were the Canary Islands as...

"Elysian Fields which are in the confines of the world, where men lead peaceful lives, without suffering from snow, hard winters or rain, enjoying an air perennially cool, a product of breezes from the ocean."

When Britain and the rest of Europe is wearing thermal underwear, the Lanzarote holidaymakers dress for the beach. The average temperature in the shade in Lanzarote in January and February is 67.2 deg.F, although the temperature in the sun often climbs well into the 90s. The mean temperature of the sea in January is 62 deg.F, making it very inviting for Europeans with melting icicles on their noses. And, like Homer pointed out some 2,500 years ago, theres always a delightful sea breeze in the summer to take the edge off the excessive heat. Lanzarote is the most northerly and easterly of the seven major Canary islands and is a mere 70 miles from the Western Sahara.

Sunset over the Volcanic island of Lanzarote

Youd expect baking temperatures so close to one of the worlds hottest regions. But the welcome Trade Winds and the pervading presence of the sea and its pleasant zephyrs give the island an average August temperature in the shade of a very acceptable 76 deg.F.

With rain in the summer almost unknown and a total annual rainfall of a paltry 140mm (5.5 inches), little wonder then that the island of Lanzarote is now being hailed as the most fortunate of the Fortunate Islands, offering oceans more than just a winter tan.

There are also, of course, the major tourist haunts on the island which have been particularly well designed and maintained by the Cabildo, the island government. These include the volcano-top restaurant and centre at Timanfaya, the magnificent Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes, the cultural centre and restaurant at Monumento al Campesino (San Bartolome), the Cactus Garden in Guatiza and the wonderful belvedere at the Mirador del Rio at the very north of the island.

Also worth mentioning in terms of its superb presentation and location is the Castillo San Jose in Arrecife with its collection of modern art works and impressive bar and restaurant, overlooking the deep-sea harbour at Arrecife.