The summer holidays are fast becoming a distant memory. How to endure the cold season ahead? Book some winter sun and head for the natural charms of Lanzarote, says photographer and mum of three boys, Katrina Campbell
Every winter for the past two years, I have been gripped by panic in the midst of deepest darkest February that I will not last till summer before I feel the warm sun on my bones. In particular this year, a rather nasty vomiting bug during the Easter holidays meant google searches for winter sun took priority over all else.
Last year, Lanzarote had rewarded us with sun and relaxation so we were all keen to go back and explore more. This time we settle on Arrieta in the North East of the island, a quiet fishing village with a laid-back surf vibe.
Lanzarote Retreats gives us an incredibly warm welcome at their Eco Village: Finca de Arrieta where we feel instantly at home. Josh, the owner’s son, meets us at the airport and drives us to the resort. All at once, glass of cava in hand, the stresses and strains of the morning’s travelling melt away.
A family run eco-retreat, it has a collection of small villas, yurts, solar-heated swimming pool and kids’ play area all designed to blend in with the rocky landscape. There are even a couple of donkeys to feed, and chickens, who provided fresh eggs.
On our first day, campervans pull up and park near La Garita, the town beach, and hardcore surfers don wetsuits and spend the evening on the water. The black sandy beach is uncrowded with two fantastic fish restaurants and a mojito bar. The unpretentious Casa de la Playa, serving fresh fish and calamari, soon becomes our regular. It feels like a secret hideaway.
Our children, now hardened campers, think the beds in the Mongolian yurt are the height of luxury. This doesn't really feel like glamping, more like a boutique hotel under canvas. As well as providing many extras to make our stay under canvas feel luxurious including a grocery hamper on arrival, yoga classes and a paella evening by the pool, the owners are keen to tell us about all the best spots to visit on the island.
One morning we wake early and drive 40 minutes to La Famara beach on the other side of the island. This wide, windy beach with shallow waters, is perfect for learning to surf. Our full day family surf lesson is as fun as it is exhausting. Sito, our instructor, is full of smiles and very encouraging to us all and for a few hours we aren't solely responsible for our children, which feels great. We wonder if we could keep him for the rest of the trip.
On a cloudy day, we visit the awesome Cueva de los Verdes, a natural set of volcanic caves, created by lava. Our tour guide leads us through a labyrinth of caves, which end in a small auditorium that holds a magical secret and takes us all by surprise.
Nearby, Jameos del Agua sits at the end of a 7km long lava tube. Here, artist and architect César Manrique has designed a pool, series of gardens, exquisite cafes and a home for tiny albino crabs, which are unique to Lanzarote. Manrique’s artistic creations can be seen all over the island and much of the land’s clever synergy between development and ecology is thanks to him.
The eco attitude is alive and well at FInca de Arrieta where all the energy comes from solar panels. Any excess water is collected and reused and leftover food goes to the donkeys.
At the end of the holiday we feel energised and refreshed and have benefitted from a much needed hit of sun. We are already planning our next trip. When we next return we’ll be seeking out more Manrique works of art, and of course a visit to the volcano. We didn’t make it this time, but next time it’s top of the list.
Getting there: www.britishairways.com
Staying at: www.lanzaroteretreats.com
Eating at: Casa de la playa. More information here.
Surfing at: www.lanzasurf.com