Lanzarote: The natural holiday choice for ethical travellers
While much of Spain may be associated with over-developed coastlines and mass tourism, the little Canarian island of Lanzarote has managed to avoid the fate of so many other popular holiday spots. With its striking natural landscape, carefully considered architecture and host of sustainable accommodation options, it’s the perfect holiday destination for ethically minded travellers as well as those simply seeking sunshine and serenity.
The island was among the first in the world to become a UNESCO Protected Biosphere Reserve (in 1993) and in 2015 it became the first destination to receive Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification. The unspoilt landscape is a big part of the appeal for visitors, with a fantastic choice of ways to explore it, from hiking to biking and surfing. And it’s not just this approach to conservation that contribute to Lanzarote’s sustainable credentials; the island’s year-round sunny skies, wind, waves and even geothermal activity lend themselves to a plentiful source of renewable energy.
The legacy of Lanzarote’s unchanged, natural appeal goes back further than its UNESCO protected status. Much is owed to artist, architect and ecological pioneer, César Manrique, who helped shape the island’s future. Born in Arrecife in 1919, he studied and worked in Madrid and New York before returning to Lanzarote in 1966. At a time when high rise developments were springing up along the Spanish coast, he lobbied for sustainable development. His impact is visible everywhere you go in Lanzarote. And his signature works now make up a large part of the island’s remarkable visitor attractions, from the otherworldly, subterranean Jameos del Agua caverns to the colourful Jardin de Cactus.
Off-grid at Finca de Arrieta
The best way to embrace this surprising, sustainable island is to go truly off-grid and stay at an eco-resort.
When Lanzarote Retreats founders, Tila and Michelle Braddock, first had the idea of taking inspiration from the chic, beachside retreat Tila had stayed at in Tarifa and recreating it in Lanzarote, they knew without a doubt that it needed to be low impact.
The realisation of this, Finca de Arrieta eco-village, started with the conversion of a water tank on a 30,000 square meter plot of land close to the sea. Now the site is home to a collection of beautiful eco-accommodation options, from Mongolian yurts and traditional cottages to private, luxury villas. All seventeen-holiday yurts, villas and cottages are off-grid and the Finca is powered by the largest green energy system on the island.
Other sustainable measures include providing a refill water station to help reduce the number of plastic bottles needing recycling and encouraging guests to wash with environmentally friendly products so that wastewater can be re-used for the plants. Any food waste goes to the Finca animal residents too, with guests encouraged to collect the chicken’s eggs for free by way of exchange. Holiday extras such as Toyota Hybrid cards can be arranged on request. And it’s not just Finca de Arrieta: Lanzarote Retreats has other accommodation dotted around the island and the business wholeheartedly embraces the mantra of supporting local tradesmen and organisations.
This alternative holiday experience attracts travellers from all over the world, proof that you don’t have to forsake modern facilities and creature comforts to embrace responsible tourism. One thing guests all have in common is the desire to be in a tranquil place, with the chance to switch off. Where better than this low-impact, sleepy seaside retreat with all the ingredients on tap for the perfect escape?