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Black Gold

Friday August 24, 2007

Black Gold

The Canary Islands are often associated with black sand.  But out of 90 plus beaches on Lanzarote only a handful are comprised of dark volcanic grains. And these wild and natural beaches are well worth visiting as they are some of the most beautiful on the island.

El Golfo

The best-known black sand beach on Lanzarote is at El Golfo, home to the famous green lagoon. The contrast here between the emerald coloured lagoon (created by the formation of green algae) and the black grains of the beach is so startling and other worldly that its been used many times over the years as the backdrop for a number of futuristic films and commercials.

Most famously One Million Years BC was shot on location here, as well as at the nearby Timanfaya Volcano Park. Featuring not only Raquel Welch in an animal skin bikini but also some rather obvious plastic dinosaur models battling it out on the beach.

Visitors today sadly won't encounter either of the above but will certainly find one of the most picturesque spots on the island. Further enhanced by a large volcanic outcrop in the middle of the beach and a colourfully eroded volcano surrounding it.

There are none of the facilities here that you'll find at the beaches in the main resorts and the sea on this coast can be extremely rough at times. So swimming may not always be possible.

However the beach and lagoon are very close to the village of El Golfo nearby where there is a fantastic selection of seafront restaurants all serving some of the best quality seafood on the island.

Follow these restaurants towards the end of the village and you'll find another small black sand beach here too.

How To Get There

It can be easy to miss the turning for El Golfo. If you are driving from Playa Blanca you will need to turn off the LZ2 motorway at the roundabout before Yaiza, where the signpost indicates El Golfo and Los Hervideros.

If you are driving from Puerto del Carmen you will need to go through or round Yaiza (there is a bypass round this village) on the LZ-2 until you get to the roundabout where El Golfo is marked. Remember to keep your eyes peeled as it is easy to miss the little turning.

Tinajo Coast

Tourists rarely explore the black sand beaches along the Tinajo coastline as they do lie well off the beaten track.

But if you're looking for some serious peace and tranquility then head in this direction as there are couple of small beaches here that you can often have to yourself.

There´s a collection of four black sand beaches along the coastline; Playa La Madera, Playa Las Malvas, Playa Teneza and Playa Aboca de Abajo. And in fairness they can be pretty windy at times and are also often unsuitable for swimming due to the force of the current and size of the waves.

But they are all natural stretches of black sand and are best enjoyed from around late August onwards, when the Trade Winds start to die down a little.

How To Get There

Follow the LZ20 to Tinajo via San Bartolome, Tao and Tiagua. You will come to a T-junction just before the village. Take a left into the village; drive past the church and then take a right. This leads you into a smaller set of roads, which access the coastline.

Mala Coast

There are a couple of small black sand coves along the Mala coastline - one of which is protected by a set of rocks, so forming a natural pool.

The coastline here is often characterized by strong waves that come crashing in to the volcanic shore, creating quite a spectacle much like the boiling pots at Los Hervidores.

How To Get There

From Tahiche, take the LZ1 towards Mala and Guatiza. Take the second turn off after Costa Teguise for Guatiza and the Cactus Garden. Follow this road through Guatiza and into Mala. Drive through Mala, past the Restaurant Don Quixote on your right and the school on your left. Take the last right before the roundabout.

Follow the road down to the supermarket - which you need to drive around - and then continue straight down towards the coast.

The road then becomes dirt track - follow the fork to the left and around 200 metres along you'll find the little beach and cove on your left hand side.

Playa Quemada

Fittingly titled Burnt Beach, Playa Quemada is probably - after El Golfo – the best known of Lanzarote´s black sand beaches. And of all of these beaches usually offers the best conditions for both swimming and sunbathing. As it is located on the more sheltered south east coast just along from Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero.

The village itself is in fact home to two black sand beaches - which are connected when the tide is low so you can easily walk from one to the other. However when the tide is high access isn´t so easy and involves a short hike over the crest of a steep hill.

However it´s well worth the effort as the beaches here are rarely busy, making for some serious relaxation. The village is also home to some good quality seafood restaurants.

How To Get There

Playa Quemada the easiest of these beaches to find. If driving from Puerto del Carmen take the LZ2 in the direction of Yaiza and you´ll find Playa Quemada clearly signposted on your left hand side.


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