The Spanish isles are just waiting for you

The Spanish isles are just waiting for you

HPB’s home at Santa Rosa, where it owns 77 one and two-bedroom apartments out of a total of 205 properties, is as modern, functional, welcoming and well-equipped as you would expect.

If you’re looking to come to Lanzarote just to chill out for a week or two, there are plenty of local supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants and bars to replenish the inner man and woman as well as several beaches within a mile or so. A salad lunch and a cold beer out of the breeze behind the glass rotunda that is Bar Surfwings, overlooking the 600 metre-long sands at Playa de Las Cucharas, is one of our favourite places to while away a couple of hours.

But if you really want to know something of what this island is about, you have to take an organised trip or hire a car. Get away from the tourist resorts and drink in some of the landscape. One of the best ways to literally do this is to take the route up through La Geria where much of the island’s wine is grown.

Little black horseshoe shapes litter the hillsides, each one sheltering a small vine and helping to attract the vital moisture to nourish it. A few miles further on you can see the black, grey and sulphur-coloured slopes surrounding the Timanfaya volcano.

Head north on the eastern side of the island, past Arrieta and on towards Orzola and you can see the twisted rock formations on small white beaches where the lava streams collided with the sea as the six-year-long eruption starting in 1730 transformed the landscape.

Intriguing Lanzarote

It’s difficult to sum up Lanzarote in a few words, or even a few hundred. Like an art house film which has a complex, multi-layered plot and is full of meaningful imagery, you either get it or you don’t. I’ve visited the island almost a dozen times over the past 15 years, all but the first couple with HPB, so I’m pretty sure I get it.

Carrying on around the top of the island, Mirador del Rio may be a bit of a tourist trap but it is really not to be missed, with spectacular views of the island La Graciosa from a viewpoint set in the top of the towering cliffs. Then carry on down into the wonderful village of Haria which lies at the heart of the Valley of A Thousand Palms.

Fabulous La Gomera

A couple of hundred miles away, west sou’ west, lies HPB’s other Canarian home, high on the cliffs on La Gomera. El Balcón de Santa Ana is truly a place to get away from it all.

Where Lanzarote was largely stark, La Gomera has a fabulous mix of rugged beauty and verdant splendour thanks to the micro-climate which envelopes this remarkable little island. While the temperature on the coast is usually in the upper 20s C, the highest point at the centre of the island – much of which is part of the Parque Nacional de Garajonay – can often be wrapped in a cotton wool cap of cloud with the temperature down around 12° to 15° C in winter.

But far from being a problem, this is one of the attractions of the island. We took one of the organised walks and were happy that we had followed the advice to start our perambulations in Lake District-style anorak and sweater.

As we wound our way down through one of the world’s few fairytale laurisilva forests, full of moss-covered trees, and marvelled at heathers which grew to the height of a small house, temperatures rose and we eventually emerged into sunlight. By the time we stopped for lunch at an isolated local restaurant, “winter gear” had been stowed away and we were grateful to get back into the air-conditioned minibus for the trip back to El Balcón.

Another fun but longish walk is from near the top of the Valle Gran Rey. Having parked your car, you can follow footpaths between local houses and gardens all the way down to La Playa Calera on the coast, enjoy a well-earned drink and tapas, then pay a few euros to a local taxi driver to transport you back up the winding road to your car.

Otherwise, just take in the scenery by car or on a trip then sit back and enjoy the facilities at El Balcón – three swimming pools, three tennis courts, crazy golf, outdoor bowls, children’s play area, pétanque, croquet and table tennis, as well as the attractions of the bar and restaurant.

If you’re a golfer, you could even cross the valley to the Hotel Tecina, the only golf course of its type I have ever played. The views are amazing and so is the course – it’s a 10-minute buggy ride up from the clubhouse to the first tee, then downhill all the way to the 18th!

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