By Jack Montgomery, on behalf of Monarch Airlines
The fondest childhood memories involve those instances when all the family comes together to have fun; when mum and dad have taken time out from the daily grind to enjoy some well earned rest and relaxation. In other words, the ultimate family holiday.
The most golden recollections usually have similar ingredients; lots of easy laughter throughout long, hot days that seem to last forever. Although the location may change, there’s one factor that rarely does. They tend to take place outdoors.
The Canary Islands and Lanzarote in particular, are in many ways the ideal location for an unforgettable family holiday. For a start there’s the weather.
There are a lot more reasons to visit Lanzarote than simply for its enviable climate. But, if we’re being honest, the prospect of warm, sunny weather throughout the year is an alluring one, especially for anyone who happens to hail from a country whose weather is seriously depressed during the winter months.
Lanzarote is also an incredibly safe, laid back island where the work/life balance is most definitely weighted in favour of easy living. It’s an infectious state of affairs that brings on an overwhelming feeling of well-being almost as soon as you step foot outside of the arrivals hall.
Roads outside of Lanzarote’s resorts are quiet, flat and a joy to explore by pedal power. Some of the world’s top cyclists use the long country highways, through a hypnotic landscape pockmarked by volcanic cones, as a warm-weather training ground. But the straight carreteras are equally perfect for ambling along simply enjoying surrealistic views of an explosive terrain.
Any tour of the countryside should involve a detour to Timanfaya National Park whose emblem, an irate little devil holding a pronged fork above his head, is a giggle in itself.
Everybody in the family is bound to be wowed by the natural magic tricks in the park; water poured into holes in the ground is spewed back out as a geyser; bushes explode into flames when dropped into holes in the ground and lunch is cooked over a hot pit. How many people can say they’ve eaten volcano-roasted chicken?
In the park, it’s possible to swap two wheels for four hairy legs. Climbing onto the back of a bad tempered camel to ride into the Montañas del Fuego (Mountains of Fire) is bordering on the kitsch but there’s no denying it is a lot of fun.
Being an island, Lanzarote’s coastline offers all manner of opportunities for wet and wild family frolics. If the family is into hi-octane extreme sports, the endless bay backed by dramatic cliffs at Famara is a stunning looking playground for surfers and kiteboarders. It’s a laid back environment lying off the beaten track and is suitable for families who want to get away from it all to immerse themselves in the local scene.
Costa Teguise, on the other hand, caters for the windsurfing set and is an appealing beach resort that also exudes a quasi-bohemian vibe. It’s a combination that should suit families who want a lot of options but aren’t keen on being based in a location that feels designed purely for tourists.
An addictive activity for all the family to try in Costa Teguise is stand up paddle (SUP). It’s far easier to get to grips with than other board sports—just a ten minute’s tuition and you’ll be propelling yourself through the water with quiet confidence. One of the hotels in Costa Teguise has its own lagoon whose mirror-calm water creates the perfect training ground for SUP. The shallow lagoon is also used for scuba diving training for anyone who prefers the action to take place below the turquoise waters.
Besides its natural attractions, Lanzarote boasts a few purpose built theme parks. The most bizarre is Rancho Texas which is a cross between a Wild West theme park, a zoo and a water park. It’s an unusual mix but children get a kick out of watching cowboy lasso and whip displays one minute, and the next mixing with mock bison in the pool and splash zone before heading off to be entertained by smart sea lions.
And, if the children question why there’s a Wild West park near the coast of Africa, it does actually have some relevance. It was families from the Canary Islands who founded San Antonio in Texas back in 1731.
Finally, there is one essential factor which puts the icing on the cake as far as Lanzarote being the consummate family holiday destination is concerned. Canarians love children: they dote on them and subsequently children are welcomed with open arms—literally in some cases—just about anywhere.
Jack Montgomery is a travel blogger, writing on behalf of Monarch Airlines, with a passion for the Canary Islands and Spain. As well as writing about Lanzarote for his own travel blog, Buzz Trips, he has managed a Lanzarote blog focusing on family activities on the sunny, sub-tropical island for over two years.