Sand, sea and, hopefully, sun. That’s all you need to know about beaches, right? A drive around Lanzarote’s coastline might change your mind.
There are the usual beauties, in hues from burnished gold to shimmering white. But there are also elephant-grey sand dunes, bays where black volcanic sand glints in the sunlight, and coves sheltered by red cliffs.
Here’s our pick of some of Lanzarote’s most beautiful – and otherworldly – beaches.
Let’s start with the busiest, and possibly the most touristy, beach on the island. Usually, there’s a reason people flock to certain areas, and in this case, it’s the gilded sand that draws the crowds.
Its name means ‘Golden Beach’ which, while not particularly imaginative, is pretty accurate. The water is just as predictably lovely, with turquoise bleeding into bold cerulean blue, and its calm temperament makes it a popular choice for young families.
The facilities, from rows of parasols and loungers to water sports rentals, are another plus for this popular Playa Blanca stretch.
Sometimes, you just have to join the masses and squeeze your towel into the best available sandy spot. Sometimes, it’s OK if a beach is busy. Especially if the beach in question in Papagayo, a pale sandy curve tucked within the Natural Monument of Los Ajaches.
Its proximity to the resorts of Playa Blanca makes its popularity inevitable—with tourists and locals. But that hardly matters when you’re gazing up at sheer red cliffs, feeling sugar-soft sand beneath your soles, or paddling into calm, clear waters.
Beaches are so frequently described as ‘white’, and are so often disappointing in real life. But Caletón Blanco is, as its name hints, about as close as it gets. If it’s not snow white, it’s at least the shade of a lightly baked shortbread biscuit.
On Lanzarote’s eastern coast and close to the fishing village of Órzola, which has some lovely fresh seafood restaurants, this is actually a chain of coves that curl around emerald lagoons. The sand is dotted with shrubs, volcanic rock and tidal pools, which only add to its ethereal beauty—and wonderful sense of remoteness.
Technically not on Lanzarote, but a 15-minute boat ride from the northern tip (you can park up by the harbour), this chai-coloured strip attracts mostly locals and in-the-know travellers looking for a little serenity and respite from the crowds. In other words, those who have decided to swerve the busiest southern part of the island.
The island is La Graciosa, and boats dock in Caleta del Sebo, a small but charming harbour with bars and restaurants. The sea can be a little choppy for swimming, but scuba diving trips are available—or you can just laze on the velvety sand.
El Golfo Beach
With jet-black sand like finely milled coal, deep red earth from the hillsides, and El Lago Verde—a soupy, pea-green lagoon that was once the crater of a volcano—this eye-popping cove looks like something a particularly imaginative child might make up. Throw in the sapphire hue of the sea that laps the shore and the brown-and-cream volcanic craters behind, and the surreal picture is complete.
There’s parking up top and then it’s a short walk down to the sand. As it’s a nature reserve, you can’t swim. But this isn’t so much a sunbathing spot—more a place to stop and stare.
Playa de Famara
Despite the petite size of Lanzarote, its northern coastline is beautifully quiet. It also has the more spectacular and surreal scenery, such as this mix of fine, pale sand and volcanic rock.
Silvery dunes roll towards flatter patches, perfect for towel spreading, while the near-constant winds make it one of the most popular spots for surfers.
This one isn’t actually a beach but, if we’re talking about driving around Lanzarote’s coastline, this underwater art museum is a must. Launched in 2016, Museo Atlántico is a collection of submerged statues and sculptures from the creator of Cancun’s MUSA, Jason deCaires Taylor.
Grab a snorkel or join a scuba-diving tour around the provocative works, which include a sunken raft ‘haunted’ by refugees, a drowned couple taking a selfie, and sculptures combining cacti with human features.