The Canary Islands were seven until a few years ago. In 2018 La Graciosa was officially recognized as the eighth island even though it’s still heavily dependent on Lanzarote, to which it previously belonged. With 29 km2, La Graciosa, the smallest of the Canary Islands, is a very pretty little island which deserves at least a day trip visit from Lanzarote.
La Graciosa: the new island without asphalt
All the inhabitants of La Graciosa, about 700 souls, live in the only two villages on the island: Caleta del Sebo, the capital overlooking Lanzarote, and the even smaller village Pedro Barba on the east coast. The infrastructure is quite poor but, at the same time, the most fascinating thing is the total absence of asphalt. All the roads are unpaved and the few cars on the island are almost all 4x4s.
Life of La Graciosa takes mostly place in Caleta del Sebo. Ferries arrive every hour in the small harbour bringing tourists and daily visitors. There’s a school but no hospital, and the shops are almost all dedicated to tourism: bars, restaurants, bicycle rental, souvenirs and crafts.
How to get to La Graciosa and how to move around
La Graciosa can be reached exclusively by sea. The ferry from Lanzarote leaves from the little town of Órzola. It takes about 25 minutes to reach Caleta del Sebo and it costs just under 30€ for a return trip. During the high season, I suggest you booking the ferry in advance because tickets sell quickly.
The classic tour of the island takes no more than one day. Since the roads are unpaved, the alternatives for getting around the island are limited. You can choose between bicycles, quads and taxis, otherwise you go on foot.
If you plan to only visit Caleta del Sebo and the nearest beaches, you can easily walk everywhere. However, if you are aiming for the more distant beaches, you will need a means of transport, or you will spend more time walking under the sun than at the beach.
Many shops in Caleta del Sebo rent well-maintained mountain bikes at reasonable prices. I would like to underline once more that the roads are unpaved. Cycling on dirt roads and, above all, through patches of sand is not easy at all! When I visited La Graciosa I was fit and well used to getting around the city by bicycle, yet on these roads I struggled a lot! Quads are less eco-friendly and more expensive, but definitely a more practical alternative.
Some cars provide taxi service to the more distant beaches. You can get a ride to your chosen spot and make an appointment to come and collect you later on.
Things to do in La Graciosa
If you are in the Canary Islands exploring Lanzarote, it’s worth organizing a day trip to visit La Graciosa. Since there isn’t much to see, I wouldn’t particularly suggest staying longer, unless you’re after peace, relaxation and a bit of solitude.
The main attractions are quite mono-thematic: beach, beach and other beaches.
La Graciosa beaches
La Graciosa certainly doesn’t lack beaches. There are many and all fairly wild. I don’t think it’s possible to visit them all in a single day. You could choose a few depending on the distance or the type of beach you like. Keep in mind that moving away from Caleta del Sebo, the coast remains less protected by Lanzarote, and therefore wind and waves increase.
Probably the closest point to Lanzarote, Playa de La Laja is a strip of sand just outside Caleta del Sebo. It’s nice but it’s very close to the little harbour, therefore there’s a constant movement of small boats.
Leaving Playa de la Laja behind, just over a kilometre on foot, we come across Playa del Salado. Although it’s very popular, it’s so vast that you will hardly find it crowded. It alternates small rocks and sand, and depending on the tide you will have more manageable or more complex access to the sea. Either way, it’s absolutely necessary to wear rock shoes to enter the water.
Walking another kilometre and a half southwest you reach Playa Francesa. It’s a very quiet stretch of sand, except for the sudden arrival of an army of private catamarans.
If you love waves, head north. Just over 5 km of sand and dirt from the capital, on the opposite side of the island, there is the beautiful Playa de las Conchas. It’s wide and long, with a beautiful view of islet Montaña Clara. To reach the beach you need to walk over some rather high dunes which unfortunately do not protect it from the always strong wind.
Another beach worth visiting in the north of the island is Playa Lambra. This one faces the ocean and waves can become dangerous. A few hundred meters from the beach, a bunch of curious rock formations overlook the sea. They took the current shapes being slowly eroded by sea water which in this area reaches the coast with great strength.
Snorkelling and other activities
Even though not as famous as El Hierro, the Canarian diving paradise, La Graciosa has transparent waters, rich in marine flora and fauna. You can rent snorkelling equipment in Caleta del Sebo’s shops if you don’t have your own.
If you feel sporty and want to enjoy the sea more than the beach, the choice between water activities is abundant. You can rent water bikes or puddle surfs upon your arrival, or book catamaran or kayak trips.
La Graciosa doesn’t make the podium as a destination for hikers in the Canary Islands, but in theory, you can visit it all by walking from one beach to another among the volcanic rocks and sparse vegetation. The distances allow it and a nice swim in the sea after the hike is always an appreciated reward. However, if you love hiking, I recommend other islands. Tenerife, for example, offers many routes, from simple walks in the woods to the much more challenging climb of Teide. La Gomera with its Garajonay National Park is another great destination for hikers.