In his book Lanzarote, Michel Huellebecq praises the island but states that the island is not ‘able to offer ecotourism’ – but then he never visited Haría, where a unique ecosystem and culture survives. Haría is very different from the Lanzarote most tourists are familiar with. In ‘the valley of 1000 palms’ there are inspiring views, traditional architecture, friendly local people, and fascinating wildlife not to be found elsewhere. In contrast to the desertlike conditions of the rest of Lanzarote, both the village of Haría and the surrounding district of the same name are much greener and richer in biodiversity than elsewhere. Unique and rare flora surviving in a spectacular landscape is one good reason to visit Haría district, but there are plenty of other attractions.
Arrieta: La Garita in is a popular family beach close to shops and restaurants.
Orzola: there are several more isolated, very attractive beaches in the extreme north of the island.
Famara: A spectacular beach which stretches for several kilometers below the cliffs of Haría’s risco.
Risco beach: only accessible via steep footpath or by boat, this is the perfect beach for anyone who doesn’t like crowds.
Lanzarote is supposed to have more volcanoes per km2 than anywhere else in the world. It is interesting to contrast Timanfaya, which erupted about 300 years ago, with Corona, which erupted about 3000 years ago, and whose crater dominates the Haría district. It’s possible to walk up to and into the crater.
Official Tourist Attractions
These have all been designed with the architect Cesar Manrique’s trademark features, somehow managing to be both striking and unobtrusive. This is a link to an excellent photographic appreciation of Manrique’s architecture. http://alastairphilipwiper.com/blog/world-cesar-manrique-lanzarote/
The Cactus Garden: an abandoned quarry that had become a rubbish dump was converted to house an impressive collection of cacti and other succulent plants. It is in the centre of the cactus farming district of Guatiza. The ancient tradition of cultivating the cochineal insect which produces the red dye carmine (used for Campari, lipstick etc) has undergone a recent revival as the danger of artificial red dyes has become clear.
Jameos del Agua & Cueva de los Verdes: Although these are separate features they both are part of an extremely long subterranean volcanic tube stretching from the heart of La Corona out into the Atlantic. The Jameos del Agua are built around a section of this tube located at the coast where the roof has collapsed in several sections. It includes an auditorium whose volcanic roof creates excellent acoustics and a natural underground lake featuring the island’s unique tiny blind white crabs. The Cueva de los Verdes takes visitors on a 40-minute walk through some of the more interesting and historic sections of this volcanic tunnel.
Other sections of the tunnel can be accessed (with care) by the more adventurous.
Mirador del Rio: This attractive building, housing a bar and restaurant, is perched high on the cliff-top which faces the island of Graciosa. The view is quite magnificent although we take to visitors on a short walk to the right, where they can have the same view without having to pay for it!
There are too many to list here but a favourite of our guests and ourselves is a 20 minute walk that takes you from Haría village to the cliff-tops overlooking Famara and with a view of the Atlantic on both sides of the island.
Lanzarote and Haría
Lanzarote is unique among the Canary islands – it is well developed in terms of communications and services but has not suffered from the ugly over-development that has blighted some of the other islands. This is mainly thanks to the enthusiasm of Cesar Manrique, a local artist and architect whose sadly Francoist politics we are willing to ignore because of his tireless efforts to preserve the heritage and environment of Lanzarote. For example preventing erection of any billboards or multi-storey buildings outside the main tourist ghettoes (OK, they’re nice places if you like that sort of thing). The tourist attractions he helped to develop are all (we think) tastefully unobtrusive. He built his world-famous house in Tahiche (on a section of the world’s longest terrestrial lava flow) but moved to Haría a couple of years after we arrived here, building a home in the next street from Calle la Cañada and living there till he died a decade ago. Manrique shared our view that Haría is one of the most agreeable places on the island to live in. We also appreciate the way local people manage to combine a friendly and welcoming attitude with a respect for privacy and an easy tolerance for individual variations – for example Haría was the first district council in Spain to officially recognise gay relationships.