Lanzarote has been welcoming tourists for well over forty years. Ever since the country was opened up to the package holiday industry by General Franco in the 1970´s when he sought to attract much needed foreign currency to his ailing economy.
On Lanzarote the development of this new industry was carefully controlled. Thanks to the influence of a local artist called César Manrique. Manrique feared that his beloved birthplace might suffer the same sort of fate as some of the Spanish Costas, which were being buried beneath a sea of concrete during the late 1960´s.
Manrique successfully secured an outright ban on all high rise buildings on the island whilst also sowing the seeds for a coherent development plan, which was designed to ensure that the bulk of Lanzarote remained untouched by tourism. So ensuring that the three main resorts on the island were also built in a carefully self contained fashion to lessen their impact on the island’s unique volcanic terrain.
Puerto del Carmen
Puerto del Carmen is the oldest and largest resort on Lanzarote. This is the spot where the first package tourists stayed in apartments located in the Old Town harbour area. But since these early beginnings the resort has expanded enormously and now stretches some 8km in the direction of the airport at Arrecife. Largely absorbing the neighbouring resorts of Los Pocillos and Matagorda into the bargain.
Puerto del Carmen today still revolves around the organic hub of the Old Town harbour, which is now home to a wealth of restaurants and bars. Whilst the best beaches can be found in the New Town, which essentially runs parallel with the largest of these stretches of sand, the aptly named Playa Grande, along the main thoroughfare of the Avenida de las Playas.
Despite its size and popularity Puerto del Carmen is only serviced by two four star hotels. As the bulk of the accommodation is comprised of budget holiday apartments and holiday villas.
Over the last year the local authorities have pumped around €16 million into revitalising the resort and improving the overall tourist offering. Creating a new marina in the Old Town harbour and a much improved beachfront promenade.
Playa Blanca lies at the southern tip of the island and was just sleepy little fishing village whilst Puerto del Carmen was expanding. All that has changed over the last decade as Playa Blanca has emerged to become the second most popular destination on the island. Aided by its clement microclimate and beautiful beaches and widely regarded as the best on Lanzarote.
Playa Blanca essentially comprises three small bays set within a larger cove and as such is very sheltered. With the whole resort united by a delightful seafront promenade.
Thanks to the fact that many of the hotels and villas in Playa Blanca have been built in just the last decade the facilities and amenities here are all virtually as good as new. Making it the ideal choice for families and couples seeking a good value break.
Costa Teguise is located towards the north of the island and was largely developed under the aegis of César Manrique in the 1980´s. As he sought to create a coastal sister resort to the former capital of Teguise located around 5km inland.
Costa Teguise was initially designed to be the upmarket relation to Puerto del Carmen. Anchored by the impressive five star Gran Melia Salinas hotel. And whilst initially this strategy paid off – with the resort attracting well heeled visitors from across Northern Europe – its appeal has faded a little in recent years. Not least as this part of the island can experience clouds and grey skies during the winter months whilst the south of the island is basking in sunshine.
This guest post was written by Nick Ball. Nick is the editor of Lanzarote Guidebook, the in-depth island information guide. Visit the site to download a free 96 page guidebook to the island and to book hotels, villas and apartments in Lanzarote.
Photo: World Marine Guide