Nature’s immense power is in its full splendour along Lanzarote’s southwest coast between Salinas de Janubio and El Golfo. It’s a truly incredible sight: the force of the Atlantic meets the rocky volcanic shores of the Timanfaya National Park.
The best way to discover this area is by bike or by car, as there are so many photo opportunities, you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you don’t want to drive, then there are a range of coach excursions available through most tour operators and hotels. If you are driving, you’ll need to watch out for the LZ-704 road at Yaiza, if you’re coming from the north, or take the LZ-703, if you’re coming from the tourist resort from Playa Blanca.
Pure marine salt at Salinas del Janubio
Starting at Salinas del Janubio means that you save your fresh fish, coffee or a cool beer for El Golfo, at the end. But more about that later!
The Mirador Salinas del Janubio is an obligatory stop, affording magnificent views over the salt flats towards the ocean. You will see salt in an amazing range of colours: the blueish tint is due to the purity of this marine salt (not mixed with earth, like in many other parts of the world); the touch of pink, thanks to the influence of the red Brine shrimp and Duna llena seaweed species.
The gulf where the salt flats now sit was once a fertile area used to grow cereals. The Timanfaya eruptions dramatically changed the landscape when lava flows closed it off at the ocean, and a lake was formed.
The Padrón Lleó family turned it into an artisanal salt mine at the end of the 19th century. The most important salt mine in the Canary Islands, the salt supported the island’s then thriving fishing industry, to preserve the fish for storage and exportation.
Today it survives with the help of EU subsidies, as the area is considered to be of great cultural, natural and architectural value, as well as being a special protected area for birds.
The sea water was pumped along channels to the salt flats using wind power. Its five windmills are now considered to be of significant cultural and architectural importance. The sun and the wind are vital to the evaporation process. The salt is collected between spring and autumn, which is the drier season when the salt crystalizes more easily.
Salinas del Janubio produces around 2000 tons of salt per year, only 20% of its original production. This decline was owed to advances in refrigeration technology, and alternative methods of preserving fish.
Janubio marine salt is considered to be among the best in the world, offering untold benefits for health, growth and nutrition. So do help to support this wonderful environment by buying some to take home with you. You’ll find it at many of the island’s markets and stores.
If you’re ready for a break, just up ahead on the same road there is another convenient stop, the Mirador de las Salinas Restaurant. You can park here and enjoy the view from a different angle, and refreshments are particularly welcome on hot days.
The power of the ocean at Los Hervideros
Los Hervideros is a little more than 3 km down the road from Salinas del Janubio. There are many lay-bys along the way, but there’s no real need to stop before you reach it because it has a large car park right alongside.
A series of caves and holes were formed in the lava of the 17th century Timanfaya eruptions. The verb “hervir” means “to boil” in Spanish, and the place earned its name due to the way the ocean “boils” around the rocks and shoots up through the blow holes through its sheer impact.
This is raw nature at its finest. You are surrounded by a landscape of black and red lava, pyramid-like volcanoes and deep blue sky. The ocean crashes into the rocky cliffs below, and on rough days, shoots high up into the air. This display will always be at its best during full moon, high tide and big ocean swells, though it’s impressive even on the calmest of days.
The area is well organised with cordoned paths and small balconies where you peer into the caves and blow holes.
The LZ-703 will take you from Los Hervideros to El Golfo. The fabulous scenery here makes it the perfect place for a soft-top car. It won’t come as a surprise that this has been the location of numerous car adverts, as it has all the dramatic ingredients of a film backdrop. This is perhaps the reason why some it has was chosen for some of the most iconic films to date: 1000 Year B.C. (1966), starring Raquel Welch; Los Abrazos Rotos (2009), by Pedro Almodóvar and starring Penélope Cruz, and Enemy Mine (1985) starring Dennis Quaid.
El Golfo and Charco de los Clicos
This charming little fishing village is nestled into the lava coastline of Timanfaya National Park. Its whitewashed houses are perfect for a picture postcard.
Park in the large car park to your left as you enter the village. A short 50 m trail will take you past a small beach to your right, up to a viewpoint where you can admire the famous green Charco de los Clicos.
The green colour of the lake owes itself to a species of edible shellfish that is now extinct, as well a particular species of seaweed. The area is the interior of a crater that opens into the sea, the lake separated by a stretch of gravelly sand. The 300 m lake is connected to the sea by underground fissures, and the area is also a nature reserve. Swimming is not allowed on the beach due to dangerous ocean currents.
This is yet another of Lanzarote’s must-do selfie spots, so do remember to take your phone or camera. Then head back into the village and choose one of the beautiful oceanfront restaurants.
This will definitely be one of the most memorable moments of your visit to the island: the fresh, pure sea breeze, amazing views of the ocean and the sun on your face. Enjoy a coffee or a cool drink, though it would be a crime not to savour some of the fresh local fish on offer. Most of the fish comes from the nearby island of La Graciosa or from Playa Blanca, including bocinegro (sea bream), vieja (parrot fish), sardina (sardines), mero (dusky grouper), or salmonete (red mullet), to name just a few.
This part of Lanzarote is beautiful at any time of day, at any time of year. However early evening is a particularly spectacular time to visit this region: the afternoon light is amazing, playing with the colours of the ocean and the landscape, and of course, the sunset over the ocean.