The island of Graciosa in Lanzarote
|Etymology and toponymy|
|La Graciosa was the first island of the Canaries where the Norman landed merchant Jean IV de Béthencourt, came to conquer the “Fortunate Islands” in particular in order to operate orchil, a purple dye extracted from a lichen growing in the Canary Islands and used in industry textile Normandy. Béthencourt had left the port of La Rochelle on 1 May 1402 and arrived in the Canary Islands in June 1402; after several weeks at sea, and a stopover in Cadiz, volcanic and desert island appeared charming him Béthencourt named the island “Île Gracieuse” (Isla Graciosa in Castilian). Jean de Béthencourt then continued the conquest of the Canaries by Lancerotte (Lanzarote) and Fortaventure (Fuerteventura), on behalf of the King of Castile Enrique III.|
|The island La Graciosa is separated from the northern tip of Lanzarote by a narrow strait, the Estrecho del Río (Strait of the River), off just one kilometer to the narrowest point, between Punta Corrales and La Punta, where are located saline El Río. The strait was named “river” because ocean currents are also fast and agitated than those of a river.|
La Isla Graciosa is part of the secondary archipelago Chinijo with four other islands or islets, all uninhabited: the island of Alegranza, the northernmost island, the Roque del Oeste, also named Roque del Infierno (Rock of Hell), the island of Montaña Clara and Roque del Este.
|La Graciosa is the largest island of the archipelago Chinijo with 27 km² in area, with approximately 8 km long in the north-south direction and 4 km wide in the east-west direction. The island rises to 266 m at Las Agujas Grandes, a small very eroded volcano, despite its name “Big Hands”.|
|The island of La Graciosa|
|The island La Graciosa is a volcanic massif which includes five major volcanoes:|
- North of the island is the volcano Montaña Bermeja (157 m) (Vermilion Mountain); at the foot of the volcano - the north-west coast - is the most beautiful beach of the island, the Playa de las Conchas (Beach of the Seashells). It is a white sand beach - result of weathering shells - 600 m in length and covered with shells. Since the beach has a great view of the islands of Montaña Clara and Roque del Oeste, but swimming is very dangerous due to strong currents. The Playa de las Conchas is 5 km from Caleta del Sabo by dirt track.
The track also allows to get to the northern tip of the island, Punta Gorda, where you can admire the island of Alegranza.
At the foot of the eastern slope of the Montaña Bermeja lies the Playa Lambra or Playa del Ámbar (Amber Beach), less dangerous but cluttered with all sorts of waste brought by currents.
At the center of the island stands the peak, the volcano Agujas Grandes (266 m) (Large Needles), attached to the second highest peak, the volcano Agujas Chicas (257 m) (Small Needles).
- A little further south, the Montaña del Mojón reaches 185 m above sea level and has a deep crater 20 meters.
- In the southwest of the island is the Montaña Amarilla (172 m), partially collapsed into the sea; this volcano is named “Yellow Mountain” because it is made of yellow tuff. At the foot of Montaña Amarilla are two other beautiful wild beaches: Playa de la Cocina (Beach of the kitchen), sought by nudists, and Playa Francesa (French Beach). Both beaches are sheltered and usually deserted. La Playa Francesa, or Playa de la Francesa, is 2.5 km from Caleta del Sebo, the Playa de la Cocina 1 km away.
|Between these summits extend volcanic cinder fields mixed with sea sand; in this arid and desert area grow only a few bushes and surviving a few rabbits.|
The southeastern part of the island is less mountainous, slightly hilly; this is where lies the only village on the island, Caleta del Sebo. The village is connected to the various beaches by sandy tracks unpaved; the only car that is seen on the island are some old off-road vehicles allowed to circulate in the Natural Park. The best way to travel to La Graciosa is off-road biking or walking; it can also be dropped off near a beach by a taxi will return you look at an agreed time.
To the west of Caleta del Sebo, after Punta Corrales, is the most popular beach of the island, the Playa del Salado, located beside the Bahía del Salado and surrounded by a huge golden sand dune; this is the only beach equipped of the island, but it is monitored. Behind the dune is the only campground on the island. Beach Bahía del Salado is covered with coral pieces that sparkle in the sun.
Another resort is located on the coast in the west of the island, but Casas de Pedro Barba has only a few second homes that are occupied only during the summer.
|The village of Caleta del Sebo|
|The village of Caleta del Sebo (Cove of the Tallow) is a small town built in any length on the coast of the southeastern coast of La Graciosa. The village is squared by unpaved streets and a common sight is to see the inhabitants sweep the sand in front of their door.|
|Caleta del Sebo focuses the entire population of the island and all of the services available: a primary school, a secondary school, a post office, a bank, two supermarkets, gift shops, coffee shops, some apartments holidays, bike rentals, a few taxis, a port and a small marina for pleasure craft. For emergencies there is even a heliport, located west of the town.|
There is no source of drinking water on the island of La Graciosa: water is brought by tanker and, since 2001, through a pipe, passing under the Strait of El Río, which brings the water from the desalination plant to Lanzarote in Arrecife. The town lives with the arrival of ferries that bring every day hundreds of tourists.
|The small parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is dedicated to the Virgen del Carmen, or Virgen del Mar, traditionally revered by fishermen. At its festival, celebrated on 16 July, the statue of the Virgin is on board a fishing vessel and walked in procession to the sea, with the port of vessels decorated for the occasion. This festival is probably the best time to visit the island of La Graciosa.|
|The hamlet of Casas de Pedro Barba|
|Casas de Pedro Barba, or simply Pedro Barba, is the second town of the island of La Graciosa; it is located on the east coast of the island. Its name comes from the name of an adventurer who settled there and proclaimed himself king of the Canaries.|
At the end of the nineteenth century he was there a fish cannery closed in 1899; nowadays Pedro Barba is a hamlet consisting of second homes - belonging mostly to foreigners to the island - which are occupied in summer. Pedro Barba, however, can boast of being the northernmost town of the Canaries, located at the latitude of the Cape of Trafalgar, the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.
Access to Pedro Barba is through a sandy track from Caleta del Sebo, or boat: the resort has a small anchorage.
|Weather and forecasts|
|Three pedestrian ferries of the company Líneas Marítimas Romero provide up to 9 return crossings a day between the port of Órzola, at the northern tip of Lanzarote, and the port of Caleta del Sebo. No auto transport, banned on the island without special permission. Due to strong currents in the Strait crossing may be agitated and cause seasick.|
Crossing time: 15 to 20 minutes.
Price: about € 20 for a return trip.
Address: Avenida Virgen del Mar, 119A, Caleta del Sebo.
Phone: 00 34 928 842 055 / 00 34 928 596 107
Site on the Web: www.lineasromero.com
Another company offers the same services, Líneas Biosfera Express :
Address: Calle Las Quemaditas, s/n - Puerto de Órzola
Phone: 00 34 928 842 585
Site on the Web: www.biosferaexpress.com
| Sea excursions to La Graciosa|
|Líneas Marítimas Romero also organizes excursions around the island of La Graciosa from Órzola, visiting Caleta del Sebo and islands forming the archipelago Chinijo (Alegranza, Montaña Clara and Roque del Infierno), lunch on board and then stop the beach of Playa Francesa (sea kayaking, snorkeling and other activities). Back to Órzola late afternoon after a tour of the north coast of Lanzarote.|
|There are no hotels on the island of La Graciosa but pensiones restaurant where you can spend the night for twenty euros.|
The Pensión Enriqueta offers eight simple rooms with bathroom.
Address: Calle de la Mar de Barlovento, 6
Phone: 00 34 928 842 051
The Pensión Girasol offers renovated rooms and new apartments in the annex.
Address: Calle García Escámez, 1
Phone: 00 34 928 842 118
|Southwest of Caleta del Sebo, behind Playa del Salado, located a campsite; it is necessary to subscribe to the Oficina Municipal in order to spend the night.|
|Restaurant El Marinero|
|freshly caught fish restaurant.|
Address: Calle García Escámez, 14; in front of the Church of Our Lady of Carmel.
Phone: 00 34 928 842 070
Hours: 12 am to 16 pm and 20 pm to 23 pm 30.