Let us look into La Graciosa, a small island off the coast of Lanzarote. At only 29Km2, it is the smallest of the Canary Islands and a far reach from the tourist hotspots of Lanzarote. With only 25,000 visitors each year, the island is not geared toward tourism but peace and tranquillity. Its 700 inhabitants get to live a life many of us could never imagine, and a short trip here will give you the answer to the question of “why it is the top destination in Lanzarote“?
About La Graciosa
Firstly, you can only reach La Graciosa by boat or ferry, and it is about a 20-minute journey. The island is situated 2 kilometres north of Lanzarote across the Strait of El Río.
The largest island in the Chinijo Archipelago is unique, and it would be a pity to have traveled to Lanzarote and not visit this island and take in the peace and quiet. It is almost as if you have travelled back in time, the roads of La Graciosa are not paved, and cars are a rarity.
This volcanic island has almost no vegetation except for some very hardy shrubs.
Caleta del Sebo is the only inhabited town on the island and retains its mid-nineteenth century fishing port charm. Caleta de Sebo was founded to accommodate the fishermen from Lanzarote who fished the rich resources in the northeast of the Canary Islands. Small fishing boats still await the tides on the beaches whilst the fishermen clean and prepare the enormous variety of fish.
To the East is the hamlet of Pedro Barba, which has recently become a holiday area for families due to the stunning beach. According to the Spanish Statistical Institute, there is a small community of, wait for it…… three inhabitants.
Hotel and holiday rentals are available in Caleta de Sebo if you fancy extending your stay. If you fall in love with the island and desire to relocate, a few properties are for sale, but you might need a lottery win to buy a property.
History of La Graciosa
Conquered in 1402 by the Normans, La Graciosa has been inhabited since 1880. A new salted fish factory brought in workers from Lanzarote who settled on the island. In 1986 it was declared a protected natural park and marine reserve.
There is also a story that links the island to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. The story goes that in the 1760s, a British ship was followed to the island by pirates whilst trying to escape a storm. Fearing the booty they were carrying would be captured, the British buried the gold. Despite being tortured by the pirates, they refused to reveal the location of the buried treasure. In the 18th century, Admiral Hawke found more than coincidental evidence regarding this story. Well, shiver me timbers, there may be Pirate gold buried on La Graciosa.
How to get to La Graciosa
It is hard to grasp the untouched beauty of La Graciosa and take in how easily accessible it is. Take a ferry or private charter from the port of Órzola in northern Lanzarote, and within a half-hour, you may have well think you have time traveled. A return ticket for the ferry costs around €25. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance to ensure you can travel at times to suit you. Advance tickets are the same price as purchasing on the day and are valid for the whole day for travel at any time. Be aware that the ferries often change their timings between seasons, so check before planning your trip.
The ferries are open to the elements and are pretty basic.
A word of warning, you are crossing the Atlantic, and it can be very rough at times. If you struggle with seasickness, it would be best to be prepared.
You will arrive at the harbor of Caleta de Sabo, and here you can walk the sandy streets or hire bikes as you begin to explore.
Beaches of La Graciosa
La Graciosa is a perfect island to disconnect, forget everything and soak up the natural beauty and the sun. This little paradise has six beaches with golden sand, crystal clear waters, and stunning surroundings.
However, there are a few pointers if you consider a day or two on the island. Take your trunks, bathing suit or bikini to enjoy the sea. Although you may want a light jumper for the evenings as the Atlantic breeze can carry a chill with it. Always take high factor sunscreen, a hat and water with you as there is little or no shade once you have left Caleta del Sebo. Water socks can be helpful as the sand can be sharp from broken seashells; these also help with slippery rocks at the water’s edge. A snorkelling set is a must to enjoy the underwater wildlife fully.
Some of the beaches on La Graciosa allow nudism, but it is best to check first if it is permitted.
Playa Las Conchas
Las Conchas is located in the north of La Graciosa. At 600 metres long, with stunning white sand and views of the deserted islands of Alegranza and Montaña Clara, this is a beach set in paradise.
Las Conchas can be reached by:
- Foot (45 minutes to one and a half hours depending upon fitness levels)
- Bike (20 minutes to 45 minutes depending upon fitness levels)
- Taxi (15 minutes and around €15)
There are no services at the beach, so take food, water and an umbrella for shade. The sea here can be dangerous due to undercurrents. It is only recommended that strong swimmers enter the sea but not if the red flag is flying.
Playa Francesca is one of the best beaches in the southern part of La Graciosa. This family-friendly beach is 435 metres of spectacular sand and turquoise water.
This beach becomes a lagoon at high tide, making it ideal for snorkelling and viewing the many fish varieties that enjoy the clean waters.
You will often find boats moored, and the catamaran tours anchor here so their guests can enjoy water activities.
Situated just 2 kilometres from Caleta de Sebo, it is easily accessible by
- Foot (35 minutes to an hour depending upon fitness levels)
- Bike (20 minutes to 45 minutes depending upon fitness levels)
- Taxi (5 minutes)
As with all the beaches on La Graciosa, there are no services on the beach, and you must bring everything with you.
Playa del Ámbar
Many people consider this the best beach in La Graciosa.
The 220-metre long beach can be accessed by taking the route to Pedro Barba or following the Playa las Conchas track. Playa del Ámbar is the wildest beach in La Graciosa, with a lonely, stormy atmosphere. The sea currents here are powerful, and therefore swimming can be dangerous. As always, there are no services on the beach.
Playa de la Cocina
At the foot of Montaña Amarilla, in the south west, you can find Playa de la Cocina. Approximately a 15-minute walk from Playa Francesca is a 100-metre long beach with stunning views. Playa de la Cocina is a haven for snorkelers with clean blonde sand and crystal clear waters, but be aware that the final descent to the beach can be steep. The beach is rarely busy and offers a tranquil space to sunbathe or swim.
There are no services here, just sand!
Playa El Salado
A 15-minute walk from Caleta de Sabo is a beach with very safe waters. This beach is best accessed by foot to enjoy the cliffs of Famara in Lanzarote. The tide produces natural pools, making great exploring for kids and adults alike.
One unique point of this beach is it has a designated FREE camping area. It is not officially recognised as a campsite due to lacking certain facilities, but it does have toilets and showers. There are 50 plots with a maximum occupancy of 10 people per plot. A free campsite, located metres from the sea in the Canary Islands…. Yes, please.
Playa de La Laja
Playa de la Laja is located right in Caleta de Sebo and next to the port. It is a beautiful beach of golden sand and blue water, punctuated by fishermen arranging nets or catches. This beach is perfect for families with babies and younger children as they will not have to walk very far to enjoy the sand and sea.
The great advantage of this beach over the other beaches in La Graciosa is the location being in proximity to all the services, bars, restaurants and shops of Caleta de Sebo. The downside to this is it can get bustling during summer and public holidays, and as it is only 100 metres long, it can quickly fill up.
What can I do in La Graciosa?
If the incredible landscape and beaches are not enough to entertain you, there are other options in La Graciosa.
- Enjoy the network of pathways as you walk around this unique Archipelago. Take in the views and the nature all around you.
- If you can already dive, enjoy the sub-aquatic world and if you can’t yet dive, take a course for the day.
- Enjoys the water sports, bodyboarding, windsurfing or kitesurfing, all with quality waves
- Discover the island in a 4×4 and use the local driver’s knowledge to show you every undiscovered part of the island.
- Take an island tour on a boat or catamaran with a glass of chilled Cava in your hand.
- Eat out at one of the excellent restaurants and enjoy some of the freshest fish and seafood cooked with care and attention.
- Wander through the town’s sandy streets and enjoy the lack of roads and vehicles whilst relaxing in the peaceful surroundings.
- Visit the Marine Reserve of the Chinijo Archipelago, and relish diving or snorkelling in the largest marine reserve in Europe.
Whether you fancy walking to all the beaches, cycling the pre-designated routes or just lazing on a beach, La Graciosa has it all. Peace, quiet, nature, sun, sea, sand and fresh seafood. Is there anything else you could want? You now know why La Graciosa is a top-rated destination in Lanzarote; it could be the worst kept secret in the Canary Islands.