This mysterious volcanic rock is easily visible from both islands, jutting out proudly in the Bocaina straits, the channel of water between the holiday resorts of Corralejo and Playa Blanca. This nature reserve has a coastline of 13.7km and covers an area of 4.68km2, it has been protected as the Parque Natural del Islote de Lobos since 1982.
It’s questionable why this barren island is proving popular to visitors, after all there’s not much there, the facilities quite simply stretch to an information centre and restaurant. And there you have it, the answer is that the Isla de Lobos is a chance to take a short boat trip and escape all the fabulous chaos of a full on tourist resort.
What you can visit the Isla de Lobos for is walking, birding, surfing, sunbathing on a beautiful beach and the chance to eat a superb fresh fish lunch. Personally for me, I love to take the circular walk up to the lighthouse followed by a climb to the highest point on the island, before descending in the direction of the restaurant for lunch.
It’s less than a 15 minute crossing from the harbour of Corralejo to the Isla de Lobos. I purchased a €15 return ticket from a little hut on the quay, sailing out at 10:00 and returning at 16:00 from the several options available.
The catamaran was packed full of day trippers, there were a few with mountain bikes and surfboards, the majority were travelling with cool boxes and beach bags. We arrived at El Muelle at low tide, the crew were very adept at off boarding passengers and soon we were off, each to our own to enjoy Lobos.
The majority of the group broke off to the left, following signs for the Playa de La Calera beach or Faro de Martiño lighthouse, I on the other hand went right towards El Puertito. There are signposts at regular intervals around the island, they state the minutes required to walk to the destination, which is really handy when you have a ferry to catch later.
I love the tiny natural harbour at El Puertito, there’s a handful of buildings, restaurant and jetty where smaller boats can navigate the shallow water. I hesitated about lunch, should I eat my picnic or book a table for one at the restaurant? I decided to leave my decision until later, and strode out of the village towards Las Lagunitas.
For almost an hour I enjoyed pure solitude, the only other person I spotted was a lone surfer enjoying a break off a rocky headland. The footpaths are really clearly marked out with stones and signs reminding you that the island is a protected area, so not to stray off the path.
The salt water lagoons were a vivid splash of green, the water surface was casting a mirror image it was so still. For naturalists the local plant species were identified as La Siempreviva de Lobos (Limonium ovalifolium spp. canariense) and Arthrocnemum macrostachyum.
I continued along the sandy footpath which meandered away from the coast, in the direction of the lighthouse. I caught glimpses of civilisation in the distance between the sandy and volcanic hillocks, as I headed towards the furthest point on the island, they were the holiday resorts of Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca in Lanzarote.
I was impressed by two cyclists who decided to ride the fairly steep incline up to the Faro de Martiño, it was a hot autumn day and the three of us welcomed the shade offered on the far side of the building. The lighthouse dates back to 1865, and its large courtyard was designed to collect rainwater, as there’s no natural water source on this island.
After a short rest, I was itching to get going, this time my focus was on reaching the top of Montaña de La Caldera, which is the main area for birdwatching. As you leave the main circular footpath to start the ascent up La Caldera, there is a sign warning you are entering an important area for birds, in fact walkers are asked to remain silent from 15th February to 31st July during the main nesting season. The vast amounts of white splashes dropped on the stone footpath leading up the sea volcano gave a clue as to the amount of birds present in this area. It’s quite a short steep zig zag path up to the top, the panoramic views from the top at 127 metres above sea level were definitely worth it.
This haven for birdlife is popular with twitchers hoping to spot the endangered Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and Cory’s Shearwater (Pardela cenicienta).
I noted the sandy crescent of Playa de La Calera, or La Concha as its also known, dotted with umbrellas and sun worshipers enjoying the shallow and sheltered lagoon in the distance. Having watched the birds circling below me whilst I caught my breath, it was time to move on, I had decided that I did want to eat at the restaurant.
The beach was calling as I passed, my feet were so ready for a paddle in the turquoise bay, but my mind was on food. In a few more minutes I arrived back at my starting point of El Puertito. I groaned inwardly as I saw the queue of patrons waiting for tables, I knew I should have booked earlier when I had the chance. I approached the window serving hatch in the wall and pleaded my case, I spotted a lone plastic chair and table outside and almost begged if it would be alright to sit there… el jefe said si!
I love this place, the chiringuito or restaurant Antonito El Farero as it’s now signposted is wonderful. There’s no menu, we’ve eaten here before and were served fresh fish simply scored and deep fried with wrinkly potatoes and mojo. Today I was given a paella dish for one with a hunk of bread, which I washed down with an ice cold shandy.
My time on the Isla de Lobos was almost over, I meandered back to El Muelle where the boat had dropped us off. The visitor centre has information about the Lobos Marinos which translates to Sea Wolves, we’d call them Monk Seals, who used to populate the island. Sadly the population were hunted to extinction by the Spanish conquerors, and local fishermen have not been keen on the idea of reintroducing them since.
I’d highly recommend a boat trip over to the Isla de Lobos. If you just want to laze in a different location then there are companies offering to anchor just off shore where you can chill and enjoy the clear blue water for a swim and snorkel.
If you’re planning to make a day of it, pack well, take plenty of drinks and food if you don’t want the fresh fish / paella served up by the only restaurant. There’s very little shade on the island, so if you’re heading for the beach an umbrella wouldn’t go amiss, or if walking you definitely need a hat.
La Isla de Los Lobos, translates to the Island of Wolves, these days the only sea wolf you can find are made of concrete as a reminder as to how the island was named.