A beautiful island for a day trip. Like another world. This is how visitors describe Isla Graciosa or La Graciosa – a part of Archipiélago Chinijo of the Canary Islands – its beaches and sceneries.
Isla Graciosa, a little fisherfolk island two kilometers off the Northern tip of Lanzarote is accessible from Orzola on Lanzarote via a 30-minute ferry ride. A trip is not difficult to catch. Ferry boats cross every 30 minutes throughout the day and two ferry lines there that can take you to the Caleta del Sebo, La Graciosa’s capital. A return trip costs €20 for an adult and €10 for a child.
The ride tends to be a bit choppy and might be a bit of a challenge for those with sea sickness. But while you’re at it, make sure to enjoy the spectacular scenery and it’s all going to be worth it once you reach the island. You might also like that the return journey courses along and underneath the bottom of the cliffs. Nevertheless, if you’re the type who easily gets seasick, perhaps ready yourself by taking medicine for motion sickness 15 minutes before the trip.
Playa la Francesca
Rumor has it that many of the folks who live on Isla Graciosa never traveled beyond its beautiful shores. That may be partly true (or not) but what’s true is that this island has tucked away three unspoilt beaches, one of which is Playa la Francesca.
We say ‘tucked away’ because this island offers quiet, laid back, wonderfully secluded beaches. Visitors come here to distance themselves from the more touristy areas. Save for this isle’s two settlements – Caleta del Sebo and Casas de Pedro Barba – it is unlikely that you will bump into people as you wander, explore, or hike on La Graciosa’s sandy volcanic coasts.
- Don’t expect tarmac roads. Motor vehicles are not allowed on the island except the 4x4s which are limited as well.
- “No paved road, just volcanos, sand dunes, emerald sea and good fresh fish!” (Trip Advisor review)
Getting to Playa la Francesca
From the port at Caleta del Sebo, you can either walk, bike, or hire a 4x4 to take you to Playa Francesca some two kilometers westward from there. Walking would entail a 50-minute trek along sandy dunes and interesting rock formations beside beautiful shorelines. Riding a mountain bike takes 20 minutes but it may be a bit challenging to on sand unless it’s wet sand. A 4x4 takes only 10 minutes. Whether you go by feet, bike, or 4x4, don’t miss the spectacular backdrop of turquoise waters set against the imposing Los Ricos de Famara (mountains) of Lazarote. That’s what you came there for.
- At Orzola (Lanzarote), he parking is free if your getting the ferry.
- Bring a bike with you on the ferry ride if you have one. There are also mountain bikes for rent at €10 per day. If you take a bike, there are loads of routes to take and you can go beach hopping.
- The cost of renting a 4x4 safari varies depending on number/length of the route. You can also take a full island tour, which takes about 70 mins.
- If you plan to trek, wear sturdy footwear because terrain may be quite unforgiving.
- Bring lots of water with you especially if you plan to do a lot of walking and biking.
“On La Graciosa, If you turn left from the boat and head through the sandy streets you can walk along the most amazing sandy beaches. Absolutely stunning shoreline.” (Trip Advisor review)
Things to do on Playa la Francesca and La Graciosa
Swim, sunbathe, snorkel, surf, scuba dive.
The beach here is cooler because it’s open to the cool breeze from the sea. A very low natural stone dam divides the 435-metre strip of beach. Although cool, its waters are but swimmable. You adjust to the temperature after a while in it and starting noon it gets warmer. It’s also relatively calm. Of course, you can also sun bathe and relish the stunning view of endless cliffs, sand and sea.
“…the views were out of this world…” (Trip Advisor review)
La Graciosa is known for its choice surf spots with various difficulty levels. Playa la Francesca is great for beginners. The local surfers seek out the reef between Playa Francesa and Playa de la Cocina. Playa de la Cocina is further westward from La Francesca. This spot though is for experienced surfers. Playa las Conchas on the other side of the island is a surf spot for highly competent and professional surfers.
The waters surrounding Isla Graciosa is part of a marine reserve and is rich in underwater species worth a scuba dive. There are a number of dive sites in the area and you can check them out – but you have to be accompanied by a local dive school.
- You can tour the island by hiring a 4x4 at the port. Go around the entire this small island and you’ll finish in approximately 70 minutes.
- Visit the very quaint, lovely church with and learn something about the town’s culture by looking at its interiors.
- La Graciosa “has mooring area for boats, allowing spend the day in a own boat docked at a secluded island in the world.” (Trip Advisor review)
- An island tour on the 4x4 costs €50 for 5 people or €50 for the vehicle. Trip can get a bit bumpy and it should be fun!
- Climb to the top of the volcano behind the main town if you’re up for a hike.
“Spectacular beaches. Hired bikes and rode from beach to beach. Words cannot describe the beauty. The village is a great place to chill afterwards for a drink. It's a world apart from the commercialism of Lanzarote.” (Trip Advisor review)
Dining on the island
Despite its strongly rural, less-commercial vibe, Isla Graciosa has no shoratge of bars and restaurants that serve fresh seafood at an affordable price. Caleta del Sebo, though, is the only place where food and drinks are available so if you don’t want to go hungry on the beach, make sure to bring food with you.
Make sure to spend some down time at one of the seaside restaurants with a splendid view in Caleta del Sebo either for diner or some drinks. These restaurants serve fresh seafoods at affordable prices. You might want to try bestselling Spanish dishes like their traditional stew and seafood paella.
Spending the night
Most visitors spend the day on Isla Graciosa and head back to Lanzarote at night. But you can spend the night here if you wish. If you want to extend your detox from the fast-paced urban grind and wake up to the tranquil shorelines of Isla Graciosa, you have two options. One is to camp on the beach island for free. The campsite is a 10-minute stroll from the harbour following the track to your left until you reach the end. They have a shower and a toilet block. Don’t expect hot water though but the toilets do have flush! The other option is a room in a private apartment or simple pension house at Caleta del Sebo.
- Reserve at the campsite in advance because this is required. You can’t just pitch a tent and that’s it. Book here.
- Bring a toilet roll.
A day or two spent at Isla Graciosa is definitely worth the bumpy ferry trip. It may not have hotels and first-class facilities but it offers a completely different experience that is closer to nature and lightyears away from noise and stress. Visit Playa la Francesca and the other beaches to swim, sun bathe, surf, and most of all, to experience a completely different world.
Photo credit: lanzarote3.com