On a recent break to the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands we hired a car for the week. One of the main reasons for doing so was to tour the island to see what it had to offer other than the coastal resorts of Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca.

Over two days we drove around the island and this is what we found:

Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya National ParkTimanfaya National Park is one of the more popular destinations on Lanzarote. Home to the volcanoes that created the extra terestrial landscape of the island, the park is situated in the South East of the island.

After paying the €8 entrance fee we drove the short distance to the visitor centre at Islote de Hilario. On arrival, one of the guides ushered us down some steps to an open hole in the ground. The guide took some dry bush and placed into the ground. Within seconds the intense heat underground set fire to the bush.

Outside the El Diablo restaurant there are several pipes in which the guide would pour water, first to awaken the geyser and on a second pouring the geyser would fire violently into the air.

Finally we were shown an open barbecue where the restaurant's meals were cooked by the geothermal heat of Timanfaya.

We were also invited to take a coach tour around the park. Descending steep roads on the coach was quite daunting and the recorded commentary didn't really explain what we were seeing when the coach stopped but it is the only way to see more of the park as the road is closed to vehicles other than the coaches.

Overall Timanfaya is worth a visit, after all it shaped the history of Lanzarote.

Jameos del Agua

Jameos del AguaSituated in the north of Lanzarote, the Jameos del Agua is an underground cave system created around 3,000 years ago when the volcano Montana La Corona erupted.

In 1968 the artist Cesar Manrique, whose work can be found all around Lanzarote, developed Jameos del Agua for public viewing.

After paying the €8 entrance fee  we descended the spiral stone staircase down to the first cave, Jameo Chico and further down to the natural lake that sits in the cave. The water is incredibly clear which makes it easier to see the resident albino crabs. This is the only place in the world where they can be seen.

Passing the lake and ascending through Jameo Grande, the reward is the sight of a crystal clear swimming pool. We were confused whether or not it is available to use, but we later found out that unfortunatley this isnt the case.

Overlooking the pool is the House of the Volcanoes, which houses information on volcanoes around the world, focussing mainly on those of the Canary Islands. There are also some unusual mirrors that create some very interesting effects.

Though quite excessively priced the Jameos del Agua made for an interesting visit and I would recommend a visit if you're visiting Lanzarote.

Mirador Del Rio

Mirador del RioRight at the top of the island you'll find the lookout point of Mirador del Rio. High in the Risco de Famara ranges the former fortress has been converted into a small cafe, gift shop and viewing platform.

With stunning views over the nearby island of La Graciosa, and down the cliffs that lead into the strait of El Rio, you get a sense of the natural landscape of Lanzarote.

What I disliked about Mirador del Rio was, despite it being a stunning vista to see, you are charged €4.50 for the pleasure and we were only there for around 20 minutes.

Guinate Tropical Park

Otters at Guinate Tropical ParkFor me this was the surprise of the island. Located north of the town of Haria, Guinate Tropical Park is nothing to look at from the outside and we were put off by the entrance fee of €14. After seeing our lack of enthusiasm we were offered a discounted price of €10 so we parted with the cash and stepped inside.

The park is mainly a mixture of parrots, cockatoos and other exotic birds such as toucans. We were ushered towards the parrot show that takes place six times a day where we were introduced to an 18 month old parrot before the show started to a small audience of eight.

The show's presenter seemed disinterested despite his obvious love for the birds he cared for. This lack of enthusiasm was made up by the entertainment created by the birds mainly the cocaktoos who rode scooters, bikes and relaxed on a deckchair.

After the show we continued around the park where there were penguin and meerkat enclosures. We caught the otters at feeding time and spent around ten minutes watching mother and babies devour their lunch.

The park appeared to need a lot of work doing to it but more importantly the animals seemed to be well cared for. Rancho Texas near the resort of Puerto Del Carmen may have taken a lot of the tourist money from it but after spending around an hour in the park I'm glad we spent our Euros here instead.

Mirador de Haria

View from Mirador de HariaOn the drive south from the small settling of Haria in the north of Lanzarote, you follow a snaking road up into the hills. About three quarters of way up we stumbled on an abandoned building off to the left which looked as though it may once have been a small cafe.

Around the rear of the building the views back towards Costa Teguise and the northern coastline where simply stunning and well worth stopping at, especially there was no charge unlike Mirador del Rio.

Carrying on further along the road, the reason for the abandonment of the building became apparent as a larger restaurant had opened with equally stunning views.

Suprising Island of Lanzarote

Lanzarote is much more than the tourist resorts of Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca that line the coastline. There are many interesting places to visit both inland and in the north of the island, most of which are reasonably priced.

Hiring a car gave us the freedom to visit the sights in our own time and though not specifically timing it so we missed the tourist buses we did seem to get to the places we went at quiet periods.

Have you been to Lanzarote? Did you visit any of these places? Where else did you go to?