After not travelling outside of the UK for 18 months, I was in need of some warm sunshine. So when my friend announced she had some work leave to use up and asked if anyone fancied a trip away, I suggested a February half term getaway. The destination was narrowed down considerably by our ‘minimum temperature of 20 degrees celsius’ requirement, our limited time constraints (it had to be 4-5 nights maximum) our budget and after a quick search of a few US cities such as Miami and LA and ruling them out when we saw the price, we decided the safest bet would be the Canary Islands.
Spontaneously deciding to take this trip just 6 weeks before our proposed departure dates, we booked at a time when an outdoor mask mandate existed across Spain and its islands and the various Canary Islands flitted between level 2 and level 4 Spanish restrictions (mainly meaning differing levels of curfews and capacities in bars and restaurants). As we booked, the rule was also in place in the UK that we’d have to take a PCR test upon return, isolating until we got a negative result. But we were hopeful at least some of these restrictions would be lifted by the time we flew.
We had no real preference on which Canary Island we visited – I had taken beach holidays on both Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in the past and my friend on both Tenerife and Gran Canaria but neither of us had really spent any time actually exploring the islands – so we were basically just looking for the best deal we could find with a package operator (we felt more protected booking this way rather than flights and hotels separately).
It didn’t take us too long to settle on a 5 night break to Lanzarote staying at an adults-only hotel in the resort of Costa Teguise on a bed and breakfast basis. Coincidentally, Costa Teguise was the resort I had stayed in on both of my previous trip to the island of Lanzarote for a Christmas trip 5-years earlier and many years ago as a teenager so I was familiar with the resort and knew it had what we wanted for a few days away.
Luckily, in the weeks leading up to our trip, the UK abandoned its PCR testing for vaccinated travellers on arrival back into the country giving us one less thing to worry about and the week before our departure, Spain got rid of its outdoor mask mandate. Still, after having so many of my trips cancelled or booked over the last 2 years and with working at a school – where Covid was a continuous problem – right up til the day before we departed, I refused to get my hopes up that the trip would go ahead.
Navigating our way through the slightly confusing passenger locator form for Spanish arrivals and downloading our QR code successfully, we were soon packed and ready to head to the airport. Everything ran smoothly at the airport and suddenly, we were on the plane ready to take off. After all this time, I could hardly believe it was actually happening!
We arrived at Arrecife Airport in Lanzarote about 4 hours later and got our coach transfer to our hotel. Masks had to be worn on public transport and when walking through the hotel to our rooms but we were more than fine with this as long as we didn’t need to wear them out and about. Our room was the same as any other Canarian aparthotel room I’d ever stayed in with a bedroom, lounge area and kitchenette and being on the third floor, we also had a balcony overlooking a local park.
It was dark by the time we were settled in but as I was familiar with the area, we took the short stroll to the coast path and walked along it into the main town to find something to eat. Although temperatures dropped in the evening, it was warm enough to just wear a light jacket or cardigan out. Choosing a bar to sit in, we ordered a pizza to share. We had hoped to see some live music which was advertised at the bar’s entrance but after waiting half an hour after it was supposed to start, we gave up and returned to our hotel for an early night, tired from all the travelling.
We awoke the next morning to glorious, warm sunshine and after enjoying a buffet breakfast at our hotel, ventured out to spend the day exploring Costa Teguise. Starting at Playa de los Charcos, the closest beach to our hotel, we made our way along the esplanade stopping to enjoy the views across the Atlantic Ocean. Walking along the main beach, Playa Cucharos, we then made our way along the headland and round to the pretty cove of Playa del Jabillo with its lagoon-like bright blue waters and then on to Playa Bastian.
Looping back around to the busy Playa del Jabillo, we stopped for a while to enjoy the sunshine, swim and eat our picnic lunch. After drying off, we walking to the main square Plaza Pueblo Marinero where we cooled down with drinks at one of its many bars before walking back down Avenida de las Islas Canarias to our hotel where we enjoyed the last of the day’s sunshine from our balcony.
That evening, we walked back into town and had dinner at one of the restaurants in the Square followed by crepes oozing with Nutella from a desserts’ stall. Failing to find any live music on anywhere again, we once again returned to our hotel for an early night in anticipation of our earlier start the next day.
Wanting to see more of Lanzarote than just the resort we were staying in, we had booked a full day coach tour of the island for the next day of our trip. We were up in time for the doors opening for breakfast so we could still get our fill before meeting our coach. Being just the second pick up of the day, we then spent the next hour sat on the coach driving through Costa Teguise and then Puerto del Carmen as we picked up the rest of the passengers. Once everyone was on board, we drove inland towards Timanfaya National Park.
After a pitstop for refreshments in a nearby village, our first main stop was at the camel park on the outskirts of the National Park where we had the option to take a camel ride through the volcanic landscape then it was on to a stop at Hilario, an area within the National Park where we watched demonstrations of the geothermal energy.
A restaurant at Hilario is built on top of one of the volcanoes and uses the heat from them to cook its food. We didn’t have time to eat there but did get to see the food cooking above the pits.
Back on the coach, we were given a tour of the National Park passing craters and fields of lava while the official park commentary was played to us.
We were scheduled to make a stop at El Golfo to see the Green Lagoon next but our guide explained that it was closed that day due to filming – Lanzarote’s dramatic landscape means it is used for lots of films including Marvel films such as Thor and The Eternals!
I was disappointed that we weren’t going to see the lagoon. Instead, we were taken to the Mancha Blanca, the National Park’s Visitor and Interpretation Centre on the outskirts of the park to learn more about the formation of the park.
Then it was on to our lunch stop at a restaurant in a small Canarian town where for an extra 10 euros we could help ourselves to the buffet food provided.
Our first afternoon stop was at a local vineyard where we got to sample some local wines and then it was on to a viewpoint at the northern end of the island. We were told that the views here are normally spectacular and reach across to La Graciosa, another of the Canary Islands, but unfortunately, a sandstorm from the Sahara had swept in, obscuring our view.
Our final stop of the day was at Jameos del Agua, where a sea cave and lava tube has been turned into a concert auditorium and gardens designed by Lanzarote-born Spanish artist, Cezar Manrique. Then it was back to Costa Teguise where, thankfully, we were one of the first drop offs.
Still full from making the most of the lunchtime buffet, we still walked into town that evening but rather than dinner at a restaurant, just went for drinks at some of the bars in the main Square.
After the glorious warm sunshine of the previous 2 days, we awoke on day 3 to clouds followed by heavy, but thankfully short, showers.
With the forecast suggesting the sun would come out for a few hours before more showers in the afternoon, we decided to spend the morning locally walking along the coast path and on the beach then to catch the bus to Arrecife, the island’s capital city, in the afternoon.
Catching the local bus was straightforward and it took around half an hour to reach Arrecife with all the stops along the way. Once there, we began to make our way along the promenade beginning at Parque Tematico with its ocean views and public art and past the main beach, Playa del Reducto.
Making our way past the resort’s iconic Gran Hotel – the only hotel on the island to exceed the now lawed 5-storey limit – we walked past Parque Jose Ramirez Cerda and out across the causeway to Castillo de San Gabriel, enjoying the views looking back towards the city.
With the clouds rolling in, we could see there was another storm heading our way so we quickly made our way back along the causeway to the esplanade just in time to take shelter in a nearby souvenir store where we waited for the rain to clear.
Once it had cleared, we decided to stroll through the main shopping area of the city so we could easily dodge inside a shop should the rain start again. Fortunately, the sun was soon shining again so after stopping to eat our picnic lunch we decided to return to the Gran Hotel and take a trip up to its 17th floor rooftop bar where we had drinks while enjoying the beautiful views across the island.
Then it was back to the bus station to catch the bus back to Costa Teguise where, later that evening, we took our now traditional stroll into town for dinner and to search once again for live music, tonight, actually finding some at an American bar!
We had just one day of our holiday left and decided to spend it visiting another of the island’s popular resort towns, Puerto del Carmen. Catching the same bus that we had caught to Arrecife, it took about an hour to reach the resort.
Exiting the bus at the top end of the resort, we first took a stroll towards the neighbouring, and quieter, Playa de los Pocillos, before returning to the busy Puerto del Carmen ‘strip’, the 2-mile stretch running parallel to the beach lined with a multitude of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. Reaching the southern end of the strip, we crossed the road to Playa Grande, the resort’s main beach to rest our feet, relax in the sunshine for a while and eat our picnic lunch.
After lunch, we walked into Puerto del Carmen’s old town and down to the Old Town Harbour where we cooled down with drinks from a bar overlooking the marina before returning to the main strip, this time taking the coastal path past the small, pretty cove of Playa Chica and back to Playa Grande where we once again spent some time relaxing on the golden sands.
Soon, it was time to catch the bus back to Costa Teguise. With the one-way traffic system along the strip, it took us a while to locate the return bus stop at the top of a hill behind the main town. Despite the local bus app telling us a bus was due in the next 10 minutes, we waited over half an hour, arriving back in Costa Teguise an hour later.
That evening was our last on holiday and we once again walked up to the main square, having dinner at an Italian restaurant followed by more crepes! Walking back along the seafront, we stopped at a cocktail bar along the way for some final drinks before returning to our hotel.
With a few hours before our transfer back to the airport the next day, we made the most of the buffet breakfast before relaxing by the pool in the warm sunshine. It had been a well-needed and long-overdue sunshine break and, for me at least, had felt like a bit of normality after so long without travelling. And with a few more trips abroad planned for the rest of the year, I’m hopeful that they too will be able to go ahead.