When we first moved to London in 2006, we heard of people traveling to the Canaries for a dose of winter sunshine and added the islands as a possible destination for our upcoming travels. As is usually the case, things shift up and down on the list based on who we’ve spoken to, books we’ve read, documentaries we’ve seen, articles in the Economist, etc, etc, etcâ€¦so, here we are in 2015 having just visited the Islands–well over 8 years since it first appeared on our ‘to do’ list.
Also as per usual, we purchased the guidebook for the Canaries well in advance of our actual trip. As in years in advance–so far in advance that we had to rebuy current books before our trip?! So, if you’ve ever felt a tad overwhelmed with choice upon setting out to plan a trip, you’re in good company.
Upon first traveling to Europe together in 2004, we picked up a Rick Steves guide to Italy and used it as our ‘Bible’ for planning the trip. At the time, the book was filled with opinions and his taste and travel style matched with our own. So, Rick Steves made the daunting task of where to go way more manageable for us. 11 years on, we’ve traveled to well over a majority of the places Rick’s guides cover and have run out of ‘easy’ options. We now have to see through the ‘data and options’ provided by other guidebooks–pairing guides’ advice with opinions and reviews online in order to arrive at a solid itinerary and accommodation plan for each trip.
Having been in the UK for a while now, we also realise that the Canaries aren’t really the UK’s answer to Hawaiiâ€¦ The Canaries were and are a major winter travel destination for Europeans and as a result, the islands aren’t ‘authentic’. And they’re not posh. That said, by perusing the guidebooks and review sites, we landed in a lovely rental villa very near the path to the Papagayos beaches, found an authentic Spanish-speaking grocery store nearby and a great cycle-hire company just up the hill. Though it was a bit chilly during our stay (darn wind chill), it was ~20 degrees C each day and we managed to get some good beach time in (albeit we were fully dressed in layers).
The 7km boardwalk cycle path along the coast in Playa Blanca made for a great active day adventure for us–it’s a smooth ride with little ones in tow. Well done, Playa Blanca, for installing it.
On a particularly windy day, we visited sights around Timanfaya. We rode a camel (Tsunami was his name), saw volcanic craters, held stones warmed by the earth’s heat and nearly blew away!
All this said, we’ve visited many patches of sun-drenched winter sand which would put Playa Blanca to shame. Lanzarote’s strength is cost. All in (7 days in a private 2-bedroom rental villa, air fare, food/drink, rental cycles, etc), our trip to Lanzarote cost well less than only just the airfare for our brood to travel to Asia. Oh, and there’s no time changeâ€¦that easily tips the scales for our eventual return.