Graciosa Island, a volcanic island in the Canary Islands of Spain, located 2 km (1.2 mi) north of the island of Lanzarote with the strait named Río. It was formed by the Canary hotspot. The island is part of Parque Natural del Archipiélago Chinijo, Reserve of the Biosphere, “Marine Reserve of La Graciosa and the islands to the North of Lanzarote” it is linked to the municipality of Teguise. The island forms a part of the Chinijo Archipelago.
The island is entirely made up of volcanic rock and sands. The population is 700 residents. Tourism is the main industry along with fishing. Every year, tourists flock to the island for its tempered climate and its sandy volcanic coasts. The island has a school, lyceum, post office, supermarkets, a bank, port, beaches, and — except bar-restaurants — a square where bicycles can be hired (plaza).
Streets and roads on La Graciosa are unpaved sand. The Gracioseras can often be seen early each morning sweeping the streets smooth of the previous night’s footprints. Motor vehicles are strictly prohibited and limited to a handful of licensed vehicles for special purposes. Since the roads are bad, and cars have to be shipped to Lanzarote for repair, about 70% of the motor vehicles on the island are old Land Rovers which often can be repaired by a local serviceman.
Access to the Island is by a 35-minute ferry crossing from Orzola on Lanzarote to the harbour in the village. The cost is €20 return for an adult and €11 for a child, residents have a 50% discount off this price (original ID and proof required).
As part of the easternmost islands in the archipelago, and the smallest inhabited Canary Island, the island is extremely arid and entirely made up of bushes and dry soil. Its length is 8 km (5.0 mi) and the width is 4 km (2.5 mi), making an area of 29 km2 (11 sq mi). There are no natural water sources on the island; desalinated water has been piped directly from neighbouring Lanzarote since 2001.
The main town is Caleta del Sebo, but there is another residential area, further up the coast called Pedro Barba. It is rumoured that many of these islanders have never set foot off the island of La Graciosa, they survive primarily with fishing and then tourism. Many of the children stay at residencias in Lanzarote during the week to attend school and the island has a rota for a doctor from Lanzarote to stay a month at a time. Any urgent medical cases are airlifted to hospital or met off the ferry by an ambulance.
Most visitors go to La Graciosa for the day but it is possible to stay overnight in Caleta del Sebo, there are apartments to rent, small basic hotels and a free campsite. (Prices from €30 per day and a choice of apartments.)
Transport on La Graciosa is mainly walking or cycling, if you’re there for just a day trip, I would recommend that you either walk to the left and enjoy the beaches at Playa Francesa or Playa de La Cocina and Montaña Amarilla or you hire a bike from Elveril and head for Playa de Las Conchas, through the centre of the island and to the right. Alternatively you can either take a water taxi from the ferry company Lineas Romero or persuade one of the local 4×4 drivers to drop you at the far side of the island and either come back for you or walk back for your ferry.
The water of La Graciosa is protected so you can dive but only accompanied by the Centro de Buceo. If you like surfing, the locals head for the reef in between Playa Francesa and Playa de La Cocina, there are some serious waves on the far coast at Bajo del Corral.
beaches of soft, pale sand and clear, crystal waters…. an ideal choice for the beach lovers.
(all images are copyright Margò Wiessman, 2013)