The Canary Islands have always been said to be comprised of seven islands, but this is not entirely true because they are in fact eight, that is if we take into account “La Graciosa”. The island is located to the north of Lanzarote, and although it is much smaller in surface and height, it maintains a fix population of over 600 inhabitants, mainly concentrated in Caleta del Sebo. There are other large islets however uninhabited located in the same area: Montaña Clara and Alegranza. The list is complete with Islas de Lobos, to the north of Fuerteventura.
La Graciosa, separated from Lanzarote by a narrow arm of the sea known as “El Río”, is part of the group of islets known as the Chinijo Archipelago -in Canarian Spanish this means small-, comprising, besides La Graciosa, the islets of Montaña Clara, Alegranza, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste, the latter being a small crag near Montaña Clara. In short, this is a unique and valuable space from the geological, scenic, palaeontological, archaeological, biological, and ecological point of view, both in and off shore which has been declared a natural park and marine protected area.
La Graciosa has approximately 29 km2 and a maximum height of 266 m above the sea level. The island’s economy is based on fishing activities and tourism, and it is easily accessible from Orzola harbour in Lanzarote, from where passenger boats depart several times a day. After a short trip of under thirty minutes, visitors will arrive at the port of Caleta del Sebo. The town special charm lies in its sandy streets, whitewashed houses and the seafaring atmosphere. Time seems to have stopped long ago in this village. It is located on the coast of said strait separating La Graciosa and Lanzarote, in an area of calm and crystal clear waters and golden sand beaches, facing the spectacular scenery of the formidable Lanzarote cliffs of Famara. In the nearby area, after a short walk, visitors will find sand dunes and beaches such as La Francesa and La Cocina. The more isolated beach is located in a far-away area in the north-west, looking towards Montaña Clara: the beach of Las Conchas. Exploring the island and enjoying its beaches and landscape, on top of its traditions, its people and its maritime atmosphere is a great way to spend a few relaxing days of our holidays. The tranquil atmosphere only changes with the massive inflow of visitors during the summer months and for the main festivities. Another noteworthy aspect of Caleta del Sebo is its great fresh seafood produce that can be sampled in the local restaurants. There is a long human history behind La Graciosa, because the process of colonization by inhabitants of Lanzarote, always linked to the fishing activity, started long ago and has encountered several hurdles over time, which gave rise to unique traditions, even in clothing. Readers may be interested in knowing that, long before the conquest of the Canary Islands by the Spanish, Romans and Phoenicians would seek shelter in the quiet waters of El Río; the amphorae found in its seabed testify to it.
Tours by boat to visit the rest of the islets can be arranged from Caleta del Sebo. These will make it possible to witness its extraordinary landscapes and wealthy birdlife, comprised of both marine and inland birds -shearwaters, petrels, hawks, ospreys, various migratory birds, etc.-. Visitors can also dive in permitted areas of the marine reserve. The biological wealth of these islets greatly limits the possibility to go ashore and take a stroll. This way, it is only allowed in two sectors of Alegranza, where boats can dock in El Faro port or anchor in the surroundings of El Veril. This is the largest islet, second to La Graciosa, with a surface of just over 10 km2 and 289 m above the sea level. It shows extraordinary landscapes such as La Caldera, El Jameo -an open roof cave with a sea inlet-, La Montaña de Lobos, of reddish tones and the red sandy beach located at the foot. The experience of visiting these islets will most certainly not fail to amaze the visitors.
The other great Canarian islet is located to the north of Fuerteventura: Isla de Lobos or “Wolves’ Island”, whose name refers to the past presence of monk seal populations, also known as sea lions in English, but “sea wolves” in Spanish -this is also the case of the above mentioned mountainside of Alegranza-. It shows a surface of 4.58 Km2 and 127 m above the sea level. It can be accessed from Corralejos, from where boats depart daily, coming to a small port or pier located in a sheltered estuary. It also boasts unique geological, archaeological, and biological assets. Recently, archaeologists have dug out remains of Roman buildings that have been linked to the extraction of purple dyes from molluscs. The islet is criss-crossed by a network of walking trails that allow visitors to spend an extraordinary day.