Lanzarote, Canary Islands

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Club La Santa: Heaven for athletes, triathletes, and their families

This girls’ trip was 8 months in the planning. Trying to coordinate 4 women, working very different jobs, living in 3 different countries, to be in the same place at the same time is no easy feat. Our fearless leader, Melissa, made it happen though. Lanzarote is her happy place, somewhere she’s been once or twice per year for the past several years (excluding 2021). From the Netherlands, you’re looking at 8-10 hours of travel from door to door (closer to 12 for our way back), so it is not a quick and easy travel day. That being said, once you’re there, it can be hard to want to leave.

Who came? Melissa (my longtime bestie, current neighbor in Maastricht, and professor on migration policy), Ana Maria (the friend we visited in Scotland, a lawyer/lecturer/expert consultant, originally from Bolivia), Corinna (is from and lives in Germany, an eye surgeon, and adventure seeker), and me.

Me, Ana Maria, Melissa, and Corinna

Lanzarote is the northernmost and easternmost of the Canary Islands (just off the coast of Africa). While it has a sort of desert climate, the landscape is like something out of a sci-fi film. The island experienced a series of volcanic eruptions in the 1700’s and again in the 1800’s that destroyed much of the agricultural areas at that time and forced many of the then residents to leave the island for Cuba and USA. These days the residents have learned how to utilize the volcanic soil to their advantage, even producing wines on the island with very interesting looking vineyards. You can take long bike rides through the lava fields of the Timanfaya national park. You can also get guided hikes of the volcanos, but during our week there, the volcano hike tours were all booked up.

Our stay is always at Club La Santa – a fitness resort catering to exercise enthusiasts of all sports, and their families. Pretty much any sport or fitness class you want to learn or experience is available and included in your resort stay. This includes paddle boards, tennis rackets and classes, road/mountain bikes, guided rides and runs, group fitness classes…the options are nearly endless! Collectively, we did a LOT of tennis, running, some cycling, swimming, paddle boarding, ab workouts, and some of us took advantage of the body balance/yoga style classes. This is just a small fraction, though, of what you can do. The resort is also family friendly, with a swimming pool for laps as well as a couple of larger “leisure” pools, and a lagoon for every imaginable water sport.  There were no kids with us on this trip, but if you did have them, you can sign them up for supervised activities during the day while you try your own classes. There’s also mini golf and a small playground to keep little ones entertained. 

Corinna, Melissa and I  arrived on Saturday late afternoon. We picked up our rental car and bought breakfast/snack groceries for the week, then grabbed dinner before picking up Ana Maria at the airport. Even for island pricing, the groceries were not crazy expensive which surprised me. They even had bottles of wine for less than one euro (sorry, I did not indulge in those).

On Sunday, we had a leisurely morning then drove to the Sunday Market in Teguise (about a 30 minute drive). This is a large open air market with art, trinkets, clothes, food, jewelry…pretty much anything you might want to purchase. I bought the boys little necklaces made of volcanic rock that they could turn into key chains if they wanted to. After a slow walk around, we ventured out to lunch in Teguise at La Cantina. The whole town was really busy and we were lucky to get some tables there. I think the world is in vacation mode. The airports, airplanes, and hotels have been so busy everywhere we’ve been this sprint/early summer. 

When you stay at Club La Santa, you use their app to see all the classes/trainings openings and select the things you want to do. Even though we were a group of friends there together, we didn’t pressure each other to do every thing together. The other girls focused more on tennis in the earlier part of the week. I finally swam some laps (for the first time in over two years) and took some group classes that sounded fun to me. Usually, we ended up having 2 or more of us together in many of the classes. On Thursday, Melissa, Corinna, and I borrowed road and city bikes and went on a long bike ride around the island. Partly through lava fields, then towards Teguise to grab a treat at Johnny Bakes (a must go if you’re on the island!), then on to La Santa via Famara.

Friday, after a morning workout, we piled into our rental car to visit a few vineyards that were favorites of Melissa and then toured the home-turned-museum of César Manrique. César was born on Lanzarote in the early 1900’s and made his mark in art, sculpture, and architecture. He had a stint in USA but spent most of his time protesting mass construction/mass tourism on the island in order to preserve the natural beauty and landscape. He helped push the idea of keeping buildings less than 4 stories high, all white, with the frames painted blue, brown, or green. He had two homes on the island, with the main one incorporating lava bubbles in it! This is what we toured and it has not only his art but showcases others’ art as well. Prior to his death (car accident), César had already started working to make this home a museum as he was living in his other home at that time. The home-museum is well worth visiting and it César led a super interesting life. You don’t need a long time to tour here, maybe about an hour tops.

Reasons to go to Lanzarote:

  • Stunning landscape you can find in few other places. Lava fields, volcanos, beaches, vineyards, cute small island towns…
  • Gorgeous weather most of the year (though I’d personally avoid rainy/cold winter time)
  • European Hawaii. Surfers love to come to Lanzarote to catch the waves. Many sections of the beach are fine for beginners, but there are some that are for advanced surfers only. There’s also competitions that take place here. 
  • Very friendly people & casual/low key atmosphere
  • Your best friend loves it there and like to see her so happy 

Vineyards/Wineries we visited:

Bodega Los Bermejos – come here for the fancy style of wine bottle, stay for the views and the wine tastings. Melissa takes home at least 6 bottles every trip. For me, the dry whites are the best of the selection but to each their own!

Bodega La Geria – not only wine, but also skin care products, gin, and sauces, and snacks. The shop is large and nice to walk through. Melissa buys body oil and lotions here as gifts. The bottles here are also unique looking and I bought a Malvasia Volcanica Seco.

Tasting the wine and running my mouth…

Bodega Rubicon– I’d recommend this one for an interesting winery tour or to host a small party. I tasted wine here in 2019 when I came with Melissa and Ana Maria, but this time we just did a quick walk through. It is a pretty neat facility to see.

Where we ate:

Los Delfines (twice) – Casual spot, friendly service with a large variety of seafood, pizzas and grilled meats. This is a must visit spot if you’re there with Melissa because one of the owners (I think Antonio?) there just loves her. She’s been so many times to Lanzarote and Los Delfines that they remember her and ask about her parents (who have also visited) and friends they’ve met over the years.

Casa Morelino – Nicer, Italian restaurant. Great service, delicious food, fun ambiance. It was a little more expensive than other island spots, but I’d go back!

La Cantina (Teguise) – casual but cosmopolitan spot. We ate in the garden and this place was so busy. If you’re there on  market Sunday like us, I’d make reservations.

TeleClub de Tao – This is a total locals spot so go in with that in mind. Teleclubs were popular in the 60’s for locals to go and watch television together and socialize. There are still TVs but I think the clubs are less about that now and more about the socializing. These are uber casual and here there is no printed menu…you just listen to what the sever tells you is available. I’d recommend the grilled cheese (not a sandwich, but actual block of cheese grilled and served with sauces and bread).

Jonnie Bakes – (Teguise). We stopped here on our bike ride on Thursday and it is 100% worth the effort up the long slow hill to Teguise. The guys who own it are so fun to talk to, I felt like I was besties with them after 5 minutes. After a coffee and a cinnamon roll, I felt revived and ready to tackle the rest of our windy rind back to La Santa. You don’t have to bike here, you can totally take your rental car but just check the hours because they close late afternoon.

Pizzeria Mezzaluna – We ate here twice because the girls just loved the pizza here! It feels family owned and the staff are all super nice and helpful. Pro tip, call to make a reservation and ask for a window seat.

Los Geranios (colombian) – we found this via google maps as we needed a quick bite after touring the César Manrique house museum and we needed to get Corinna to the airport. This place is mostly Colombian inspired meals, had good reviews, and our waitress told us what to order since we really only had about 20 minutes. I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to get back here, but if you’re in the area, it is a great spot to stop. Ana Maria found a lot of comfort in the food (she’s originally from Bolivia, now living in Scotland) and it made her smile the rest of the day!

In the end, this girls trip was all the things we needed. Good company, a lot of laughs, some serious discussions thrown in, gorgeous weather, tasty food, and fun activities to keep us entertained. And if you’re still reading this far, now planning a trip there and wondering… my top 5 must do’s would be:

  • Hire a guide to hike the volcano national park(s)
  • Visit a winery (or two)
  • Rent a bike and cycle through the lava fields
  • Visit the Teguise Sunday Market
  • Walk on the beaches near La Santa for some incredible sunsets
Melissa calls this the “boy band album cover” photo 😉

Some sources for this Canary Island history:

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/César_Manrique

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanzarote

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1748049-d2321089-Reviews-Teleclub_de_Tao-Tao_Lanzarote_Canary_Islands.html

More on César Manrique

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