“Playa Papagayo” or Playas del Papagayo (Papagayo beaches) at the southern tip of Lanzarote Island in Spain, is not for the ‘virtual’ traveller who is dependent on the comfort and convenience of commercial facilities. But if you like unspoilt, natural beaches without anything just stretches of golden sand with the rugged vibe of virgin shorelines set against the blue North Atlantic Ocean, then you will be mesmerised by the beaches of Papagayo.
Hidden in a Nature Reserve, Natural Park of Los Ajaches, are five alluring Papagayo beaches with miles of uncrowded coastline and cool turquoise seas. If you’re craving for something of a Bohemian, lost-in-paradise experience, you must not miss this sunny haven also known for some nudist beaches.
How to get to Playas del Papagayo
As mentioned, the Papagayo beaches are within a Nature Reserve. There are two common ways to enter the reserve. Either take a car or take a 15- to 20-minute walk from the nearest bit of civilisation. A rare few may also want to take the more expensive option, a water taxi to Papagayo from Marina Rubicon (or from Playa Blanca harbour), but this would cost you more.
- Taking a car would bring you to a parking lot which is somewhat in the middle of the strip of beaches.
- If you’re taking a walk, the first beach you’ll reach is Playa Mujeres. If you want to go to the furthermost beach, it might be better to take a car unless you’re willing to take a really long walk.
Take a car
If you plan to go by car, suit yourself up for the following:
- A 4-kilometer drive through an unmade dirt road. Some have exaggerated how bad the road is. Yes, it may be dusty, uneven, and with potholes, but it is totally passable and worth the ride once you get to our destination. The best thing to do is take it easy, look out for those pot holes, and not rush. Now with your expectations set, you will be saying it’s not that bad! It isn’t and any car will make this so don’t’ worry or let this put you off.
- Hire a car. Some taxi drivers won’t want to do the journey on the unmade road, however, they will take you to the alternative entrance where it’s a 20-minute walk to the first of the beaches, Playa Mujeres.
- Prepare to pay €3. To enter the park, there is a €3 entrance fee, which is collected at a hut in the middle of nowhere after you start along the unmade road. If you aren’t aware of the fee you might think this is an unofficial toll but the uniformed chap will give you an official ticket and this allows you to return to the park within a week without paying again. If you’re a resident, present your resident ID for a discount.
- When you arrive at a car park, by the number of cars here you will be able to gauge how busy the beach is. It’s normally the first beach to the left of the two small restaurants that normally gets a big proportion of the visitors. Also, you can see the beach from the top of the cliff and if it’s looking busy then to the right of the restaurants, you will find less busy but equally lovely beaches a good 15-minute walk away. I normally always do this as I’d rather get away from the crowds.
Take a 20-minute walk
If you love walking and you don’t have much to carry, you can take a taxi or bus to an alternate entrance near Papagayo Arena Hotel. From there, enjoy a short, scenic walk to the first and longest (400 metres) of the beaches, Playa Mujeres. Just follow the coastal footpath along the headland from Los Colorados. If you want to go to further down to PlayadelPapagayo, it would take around 25 minutes more.
- If it happens to be low tide, I’d suggest you walk from beach to beach along the rocks and enjoy the delightful little coves you’ll pass through.
- Make sure to put on high factor sunscreen and re-apply when necessary, otherwise, you’ll get burned even before you could sunbathe.
- You may not feel the heat of the sun because of the breeze but don’t think that it is not giving you a slow roast.
- It can also get a bit windy so perhaps bring a windbreaker.
Take a Water Taxi
Taking a water taxi is by far the most expensive way (around €15) to get there but if you’re up to it, you can take a Princesa Yaiza Taxi Boat at Playa Blanca (old harbour) or Marina Rubicón.
(Additional water taxi trip details here.)
Visit all the beaches if you like
From the Playa Papagayo parking lot, the beaches from to the right are Playa de Puerto Muelas and Caleta de Congrio. Near the tip of the island is the very popular Playa del Papagayo, Playa Pozo, and Playa Mujeres. The Lanzarote Government who are famous for their conservation of the island has done a good job of keeping this part of Playa Blanca pristine and protected from potential damages caused by having too many hotels, bars, and restaurants.
- Caleta de Congrio is considered a nudist beach that is ‘gay-friendly’.
- Playa Mujeres, Playa Pozo, and Puerto Muelas are the bigger beaches which tend to be less crowded than the others.
- Playa Mujeres is popular among naturists, e.g. there may also be some nudists in this beach.
Don’t just swim and sunbathe, explore and snorkel
Aside from its secluded vibe, Papagayo’s water is nice to swim in all year round without being too cold, although there are some waves due to it not being as sheltered a beach as Playa Flamingo. If you like exploring, you can find small coves and rocky ponds tucked away in certain parts of the beach, wonderful places to sit and silently enjoy nature.
Playa Papagayo is also ideal for snorkelling. As you wade through its crystal clear water, you’ll see plenty of fish swimming around you and around the sunken boulders and rocks.
- Bring your snorkelling gear and underwater camera.
- Take some bread and feed the fish. Take souvenir shots.
- Be careful in the water as there are no lifeguards, no one to say when it’s safe or not. “It’s always safe to stay close to the shore and be mindful that there are some currents but these are not strong near the beach.” (Trip Advisor)
Pack a picnic and everything you’ll need for the beach
Papagayo beaches may not suit everyone as there are no toilet facilities, no sun loungers and no sun umbrellas, and the nearest place to get a drink is up a steep cliff path to three cafes above the middle beach. The key to having a successful trip here is to be prepared with everything you’ll need the duration of time you plan to stay. You might want to bring water, food, enough sunblock, perhaps your own sun umbrella, and some other provisions especially if you’re travelling with kids.
- Don’t expect any sun shades or natural shades like trees.
- The queue to the toilets in the three restaurants can get pretty long. They also charge a €1 for those who are not restaurant guests (e.g. you’re not dining there).
- Pack enough water and food if you don’t want to buy from the rather pricey cafes up the cliff.
Explore the charmed, rocky paths and cliffs
Papagayo’s charm is not only in its pristine coves and turquoise waters but also with its rugged cliffs, rocky ponds, and coastal hills surrounding the beach. From these cliffs, you can take in breathtaking views of Playa Blanca beaches, perfect for a meditative walk or for spending time with a loved one. The area offers plenty of areas to explore on foot.
- Go for a leisurely hike early in the morning or towards sunset. Enjoy the stunning horizon and make the most of Vitamin Sea while walking.
- If you want to climb to the top, which is recommended, prepare for a steep cliff path.
Check out the view from the restaurants on top
There are already three small restaurants at the top that tend to become very busy and full packed during peak season. Food tends to be on the pricey side too. But then again, the view is spectacular and worth relishing over a cold beer during sunset. However, if it’s just food you’re after, nothing beats a well-packed picnic basket.
Tips for families with kids
If you plan to take a pram for your babies, remember that you’ll be passing through sandy slopes and some rocky paths. Take a suitable stroller that can this. Bringing a sun tent might be good for shade especially for the little ones.
After passing through unmade dirt roads, walking down sandy paths or up scenic cliff tops, everyone who visits Playas del Papagayo says the same thing, the experience is worth the trip and the wait. If you’re like most of us who love to get away from touristy beaches, I’m sure you won’t want to miss out on Playas del Papagayo in Lanzarote.
Google satellite view of the beaches of Papagayo.
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