As beautiful as Lanzarote proved to be, the best day of our visit wasn’t spent on the island at all. La Graciosa is a small island to the north of Lanzarote, making it the northernmost landmass in the Canaries; the promise of visiting this remote outpost had excited me all week. We’d already had a glimpse of the island from the Mirador del Rio, a Bond-villainesque cliff-top lookout designed by César Manrique in the seventies. From that vantage point, La Graciosa’s long expanses of deserted coastline and extinct volcanic cones proved a tempting prospect for a day trip.
Since empty beaches are a large part of La Graciosa’s attraction, we waited for a particularly sunny day before heading to Orzola, taking the short ferry to the island’s only port. The ride took us past the jagged outcrops and foreboding cliffs of Lanzarote’s north coast, and a final peninsula that grasps out into the sea as if reaching to reclaim its close neighbour.
La Graciosa’s port is the only settlement on the island, a modest assortment of buildings hugging the calm south-western waters where the boat docks. Civilisation quickly gives way to dirt tracks that lead into the interior – with no paved roads on the island, further exploration is a case of walking, mountain biking, or thumbing a lift on one of the few 4x4s that ferry curious travellers around. We chose the middle option. Bagging ourselves a couple of well-used mountain bikes, we set off for the wild western coast.
With only a few tracks marked out across the land and relatively flat terrain it was almost impossible to get lost, and at a (very) gentle pace it only took around an hour to reach the other side. Our reward: an expanse of pure golden sand we had almost entirely to ourselves.
Eventually it was time to head home, so we returned to our bikes and pootled our way across the island to the port. A perfect day was capped off with a cold beer and tapas as we waited for the boat home, gazing back at Lanzarote – where the day’s only cloud had politely parked itself, leaving us to our sunbathing. A strong contender for Day of the Year 2012!