We are all familiar with holidaying in Lanzarote, or we know something about it. Famously derided as Lanza-Grotty in the past, it has risen like a phoenix to become a mecca for eco-tourism and trendy hipster bars and restaurants. You may still have to fight your way past the “gambas”, the Spanish name for pink, sunburnt Brits, and you will still probably want to avoid the Irish bars and all-day breakfasts to be able to enjoy the island’s natural beauty. So down to business, which is the best beach in Lanzarote, no easy task given there are about 100 of them, but I’ve rolled up my sleeves, sharpened my pencil, and I am ready to take you on tour.
Are you ready? – So, in order of my favorites:
1 – Playa Grande
Big Beach! – and in my opinion the best beach in Lanzarote. A top-rated beach at the equally popular resort of Puerto del Carmen. At over one kilometer long, it lives up to its’ name.
Playa Grande is a busy beach with football and volleyball played, but it never feels cramped due to the sheer size of the beach area. The sports are played in reserved regions to not intrude on the sun worshippers. There is also ample space to lay down your towel away from the sunbed areas and do your own thing.
The beach is spotless, and the sea is generally very calm, which makes it ideal for children. If you are big into swimming, there are some swimming clubs you can join, even if just for the day, so you can swim with like-minded, strong swimmers.
There are plenty of services here, including a children’s playground, toilets, showers, deck chairs, sunloungers and lifeguards. As with many beaches in Lanzarote, there is easy access for the disabled or those with limited mobility.
The promenade is possibly more famous than the beach. Although this article is dedicated to the beaches, it would be flippant of me not to mention all of the bars, restaurants, shops and lively nightlife after sundown. The nightlife is as big a draw here as “apres ski” in the ski resorts. Maybe the Spanish should advertise “después la playa”, after beach, as a “thing”.
2 – Famara Beach
Famara beach is just as famous as Papagayo but fortunately is significantly larger, about 6km long, so there is no need to be squashed together like sardines. The wind here is both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, it brings in wind sport enthusiasts from all over the world. It is wondrous to sit on the beach watching surfers, kitesurfers, windsurfers, and bodyboarders regularly fall into the sea. The downside of the wind is that it can make the sea rough, and you will need to heed the flag’s warning when it is unsafe to swim.
Be in no doubt that Famara beach is dramatic, with high dunes and enormous cliffs providing the backdrop. It may not have made it to the top of my best beach in Lanzarote list, but it is a stunning beach.
The town obviously has its fair share of surf shops, but plenty of good restaurants and cafes will make your day here enjoyable.
3 – Playa las conchas
Playa las conchas, the Beach of Shells, is to be found on the island of La Graciosa. For a one-day return ticket, you can travel by boat, about 30 minutes and €20 for adults.
There are not enough superlatives in my thesaurus to describe the beauty of this beach. If you didn’t know better, you would think you had walked onto a Hollywood film set, and Johnny Depp was about to pop out from behind a rock dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.
The sands are so pristine that you feel that you could be the first person to ever walk on them. The shallows are mesmerisingly clear and invite you to step in, like a siren singing to you. But like the sirens, there is an undertone of danger in this paradise, the wind.
The winds here can whip up quickly and ferociously, such that the sand hitting your skin actually hurts. The winds, in turn, make the sea into a precarious proposition for swimmers.
As with everything in life, the utmost beauty can come at a price. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Playa las conchas but try to choose a day where the winds are not predicted, and you will have a fantastic beach experience. At worst you can enjoy the beautiful restaurants in the harbour and marvel at mother nature.
4 – Papagayo
Papagayo comes typically at the top of every Top 10 Beaches in Lanzarote, but I don’t think it is the best.
Being the most popular doesn’t make you best; ask Donald Trump, although, given his skin colour, he could well have had a few hours sunbathing here.
There is no doubt that Papagayo is a beautiful beach, and everyone extolls the virtues of the “Emerald green” crystal clear waters, but it is too busy, and there are no facilities. I say no facilities; I mean nothing, no sunbeds, no umbrellas, no toilets or showers. If you are coming to this beach for the day, you had better bring everything with you or go without. The only existing facility is a restaurant at the top, but it is always full due to the sheer number of people visiting the beach.
Another issue with this beach is the access. Firstly, you drive to the beach, but you will have to go along a very rough unmade road for about 5km. Driving an unmade road is not ideal in a small hire car if you want your deposit back for an undamaged car.
Entrance to the National Park costs €3 at the time of writing which is very reasonable. Access for anyone with mobility issues is poor at best, and wheelchair access is nigh on impossible.
5 – El Jablillo Beach
El Jablillo is a family-friendly beach for enjoying the water and building sandcastles. It is a quiet cove just 350 metres long but has stunning golden sand and crystal clear water for snorkelling. Unlike Papagayo, this beach has facilities including deck chairs, showers and toilets and lifeguards.
There is an attractive promenade full of shops, bars and restaurants and plenty of hotels in the vicinity. El Jabilillo has one of the seven blue flags awarded to Lanzarote beaches, showing recognition for cleanliness and facilities.
Visitors often comment on the safe feeling they have at this beach; not only that the waters are safe due to the volcanic windbreaks, but they feel it safe enough to leave belongings on the beach whilst enjoying the sea. I’m not sure there are many places about which that could said.
A plus for the beach is that parking is free, access for tourists with mobility issues is fantastic, and lifeguards will offer assistance for visits to the toilets along this beach. Hats off to the Tias Municipal Council for trying to give beach access to all.
6 – Playa Quemada
You have to love the Spanish for being so frank and open – Playa Quemada, the Burnt Beach! This isn’t a tourist beach as it is mainly used by the locals.
If you want peace and solitude, this is the beach for you. Due to its’ location, this is a black volcanic sand beach with very rugged views. You will not find any facilities on the beach, no sunbeds, umbrellas, nada! If you appreciate solitude, you will love this government protected beach, and if you fancy an all-over tan, that is fine as this is a naturist friendly beach. I suggest bringing sunscreen and some shade to avoid unpleasant burns in sensitive places.
The village itself is tiny but with a few excellent seafood-based restaurants serving “catch of the day” and offering cooling drinks to provide some relief from the relentless heat.
7 – Playa Dorada
A wide, golden sanded beach that is very popular, but can become a little crowded at peak times.
Heading further towards the harbour does alleviate this as it is quieter there.
Playa Dorada is a proper family sandcastle, paddling, fun, safe beach. The approach to the water is gentle, and once in, there is no large shelf to catch you out. All the facilities you could want are here, except toilets; rows of sunbeds and umbrellas, lifeguards, swim safety flags, and water sports equipment is for hire, although kept separate from the swimmers.
Artificial breakwaters are constructed from giant rocks to create a sheltered area and calm waters for a safe swimming area. There is everything a family beach could provide, and with plenty of shopping, bar and restaurants, you will not be short of experiences.
The only downside is that if you were looking for a quiet day at the beach, this beach does have noisy children and jet skis buzzing around all day.
8 – Caletón Blanco
In Northern Lanzarote, you will find the stunning cove of Caletón Blanco. Crystal clear waters, black volcanic rocks, and white sand make this beach a visual delight. It is a very tidal beach that leaves natural pools that are idyllic for children to play in at low tide.
Beware of where you set up for your sunbathing as the tide rises quickly, and you don’t want to be the laughing stock of the other tourists whilst you try to uproot your belongings from the rising water.
There are no facilities at the beach other than a small car park, but the fishing village of Orzola is just up the road and makes a perfect spot for a seafood paella and a chilled glass of Lanzarote white wine.
9 – Playa Flamingo
Playa Flamingo is unique due to an artificial dock that encloses the beach areas from waves, making it very calm and shallow. This enclosure makes this beach ideal for young children to explore the waters safely, with the bonus of plenty of small fish swimming around them.
The beach is kept spotlessly clean, and although you can hire sunbeds, you are best to bring your own sun umbrella as these do not seem to be available to hire, and there are also no showers to wash the salty water off. The sea is often frequented by scuba divers enjoying the clear water and the abundance of fish, and you can experience similar with some basic snorkelling equipment.
If you fancy enjoying the waters, a local supermarket just off the beach has lockers to rent for your personal belongings to be stored. Very handy!
10 – Los Pocillos Beach
At just a 15 minute stroll from the busy resort of Puerto del Carmen through Matagorda, Los Pocillos is a tranquil retreat. It is popular with its golden sand, a kilometre long beach with families. As with most beaches in Lanzarote, there are typical beach facilities for hire, but there is a lack of toilets. This is not the issue that it sounds as behind the beach is an extensive promenade full of shops, bars and restaurants.
There are play park facilities for the children and fitness equipment for adults on the beach, just in case you need to tone up that beach bod one last time.
This area is one of the lesser trodden areas in Lanzarote and has a very laid back vibe.
A final note
The best beach in Lanzarote and the lower ranking beaches all possess unique beauty and must be preserved. Can I remind anyone visiting the beaches that littering is not acceptable? Removing any volcanic rock for a souvenir is vandalism, and the sea creatures should be left in the sea.