The Canary islands. I must admit, before I went there I did have pre-conceived ideas on what they were like and they weren’t particularly flattering. Booze, karaoke and “Brits abroad” is what I was imagining.
But, it was the middle of November, Max and I had just got back from Cape Verde and I was itching to get our next holiday booked. I’m one of those people that always has to have a trip planned, something to look forward to especially in the winter months. I didn’t exactly have a hefty budget either, having just spent a four figure amount on our Cape Verde trip. So when I stumbled across a bargain holiday to Lanzarote I had to stop and have a proper look. A 5 star hotel, half board, for nearly half the price that I had just paid to go to Cape Verde. Granted, the flights were from Gatwick yet again which isn’t exactly local to us and the return flight was a night one, but it was definitely something worth considering. After all, I had been to Ibiza with an open mind and had an amazing time, so why not give Lanzarote a go? Plus, I had never been to anywhere in the Canaries before and I always like a new experience. So that was that – it was booked.
Our flight to Lanzarote was at about 4pm so this time we were able to travel down to the airport on the day rather than have to stay overnight. Unfortunately it ended up being delayed for about an hour, so we didn’t actually leave until about 5pm.
Max was absolutely fine on the plane this time around – he’s becoming a bit of a frequent flyer so he was in his element! As usual, I was counting down the minutes until we landed. The landing absolutely terrified me – the airport in Lanzarote is really near to the coast so it felt like we were going to belly flop into the ocean. Of course we didn’t, and of course everything was fine, but tell that to my phobia!
We didn’t arrive until about 10pm local time and by this time Max and I were both knackered. Our hotel was also the second to last one on the drop off list, so we had a coach journey of about 40 minutes. I hadn’t really looked at many pictures of the hotel – the H10 Rubicon Palace – before we left, but when we finally arrived and stepped into the lobby, it was an extremely pleasant surprise as it was nicer than I had expected!
I’m not the best person to go to if you’re looking for advice and tips on budget travel. I do prefer a bit of luxury and comfort and 4 stars is the absolute minimum I’ll go when it comes to hotels. But for the reasonable price I’d paid for this one I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. The lobby was huge and lovely, with reception at one end and a bar with indoor and outdoor seating at the other and. The hotel is on a slope with the reception area at the top so you have to go down 2 floors to get to the pool area. There are windows at the back of the reception with stunning views to the pool and the sea.
It was really late by the time we got to the hotel so all we wanted to do was go straight to the room. The lady at reception told us they were still serving dinner and we could go to the restaurant if we wanted but we were too tired! I thought we had only booked half board but when we got there I was told that we were down for all inclusive which was brilliant. Our room was large and we had the basics – clean modern bathroom, tea and coffee facilities, TV. I don’t tend to book anything special like a sea view when it comes to the room as it’s only really a place to sleep for me – I don’t come on holiday to spend time in the room!
The hotel is on the seafront but there isn’t really a beach as such. We went exploring on our first day and the beach is about a 5 minute walk further along – it’s quite a small stony beach though and the sunbeds are exclusively for the guests at a different hotel. There was a nice little cafe there where we sat and had a drink. Our hotel was located in Playa Blanca, which is a fairly quiet area of Lanzarote right on the southern tip. We could see Fuerteventura across the ocean from our hotel.
The hotel was a large one with plenty to do for kids – 5 pools, arcade games, mini golf and a train that goes around the resort at certain times. There were shops, restaurants and two bars onsite although we only really ate at the all inclusive buffet. The food was pretty good, although buffets do get a little bit “samey” after a while and there was a separate children’s one which is great if you have fussy eaters. The drinks package was absolutely brilliant though – a big range of cocktails and all branded spirits such as Smirnoff included in the price, which is unusual as it tends to be just local brand spirits included. I was definitely a happy camper as I like a drink and was spoilt for choice!
As usual, I’d booked a couple of excursions for us to go on. The first one was a full day tour of the whole island, which I really enjoyed as you get to see a different side to Lanzarote that a lot of people miss out on. We started out visiting the former home of Cesar Manrique, a famous artist who was born and lived on the island. He was actually a major influence on the architecture and buildings of Lanzarote as he didn’t want it to become too spoilt by tourism, so high rise buildings are not allowed on the island meaning it’s a lot less built up than the other Canaries. It was really interesting to learn more about Lanzarote and his house was beautifully designed.
Our trip continued onto an aloe vera farm. Max was one of very few children on the tour so he was chosen to help plant the aloe vera and he got given his own plant to take home with us which was really nice for him. We stopped off in a traditional village for lunch and then onto the mountains for wine tasting. Not so good for Max but definitely a highlight of mine!
Lastly we visited the Timanfaya national park, which is made up entirely of volcanic soil and the active volcano is still tended to. The park is protected by UNESCO and the scenery is stunning – a complete contrast to the beach areas. The huge black rock formations were like something you would see on the moon. The coach took us all the way to the highest point and I have to admit that even though heights don’t bother me, winding around the very steep mountains with no barriers on the roads on a large coach did get the adrenaline going a bit!
Another trip we took was a cruise to the Papagayo beaches. As I previously mentioned, the beach near our hotel was quite small and rocky so not really ideal for relaxing on. The beaches at Papagayo were something else. It was the hottest day of our holiday and we had an amazing time sunbathing and swimming, plus a lovely lunch on the boat on the way back. The boat had a glass bottom and Max loved watching all the fish.
I hadn’t expected Lanzarote to be so relaxed and quiet, although I read afterwards that Playa Blanca – the area we were in – is a lot less touristy than some of the other resorts. Still, this holiday made up my mind that I wanted to visit all the other Canary islands too, just to see how they compare. My bucket list is definitely getting longer!
Let me know your views on the Canary islands and if you have a favourite one!