One of our favorite islands is La Graciosa; a volcanic island in the Spanish Canary Islands. Here we reached shore for the first time after sailing out of the Gulf of Gibraltar. Maybe that is why this island captivated us like it did. The view is also stunning, and the whole island suggests very good energies, strength, and peace at the same time. It is possible to be totally recharged from its beauty and charm.
La Graciosa is separated from the island of Lanzarote by the Straits of El Río. The island is part of the Chinijo Archipelago Natural Park (Parque Natural del Archipiélago Chinijo). In 2018, La Graciosa officially became the eighth Canary Island. It has two settlements: Caleta de Sebo can be found in the southeastern part. There is a grocery store, post office, school, hospital, pharmacy, bank, harbor, beach, restaurants. Approximately 700 people live here, which is the majority of the island’s inhabitants. The other Casas de Pedro Barba is the older settlement, but everyone has moved from this area. Today they go here to relax and vacation with people in beautiful, well-kept, renovated houses. There is an ocean pool on the shore, which fills with seawater at high tide so that you can swim and swim in it undisturbed, as the waves cannot get in. The locals live on tourism and fishing. Their vegetable gardens – in which they grow only a few things for self-sufficiency (cactus fruit, grapes) – are protected from wind, sun & sand by a high plank fence, and irrigated as rain does not fall here, but rather moves across the strait towards Lanzarote.
The first thing we notice when we step out into the street is that it’s covered in sand; the braver ones walk barefoot here as well. A limited number of specially licensed off-road vehicles are used for transport; some tractors and plenty of bikes to see on the roads. You can rent a car and a bicycle. The island can be reached by ferry from Orzola, Lanzarote. Petrol can only be obtained this way, but you still have to take a taxi from Orzola 15 minutes to the nearest petrol station. Only diesel is available on the island. We learned this when we wanted to fill the dinghy’s fuel tank. The locals were infinitely helpful: when we had already sailed back to the ship from the harbor, they stood beside us with another dinghy and gave us 10 liters of gasoline from their tank. When we wanted to pay, they said there was no need. It was as if we had only been given water; although the water is a pretty big treasure on this island, they didn’t seem to think so.
The island is extremely dry, with an average of one day of rain a year. Accordingly, only a few dry bushes can survive. There are no trees at all. Any that we did see were planted by man and diligently watered to keep them alive. There is no natural source of water. Since 2001 there is a water pipeline from Lanzarote, from which desalinated water produced from seawater comes.
There are several separate mountains with a volcanic crater on the island. The highest is Agujas Grandes, which rises 266 meters. The second highest Agujas Chicas at an altitude of 228 m. Playa de la Cocina is one of the most beautiful and famous beaches in the southwest of the island. On our nearly two-hour car cruise, we also visited this beach with our local guide, and we would have loved to have stayed here admiring the sight of the big waves if we had had the opportunity. It is difficult to swim here, the beaches on the north side are much more suitable for that, such as Playa de Francesa, our anchored bay.
We are very happy that La Graciosa is our first encounter with the Canary Islands!