â€śWhen I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places on the planet.â€ť So said 20th-century artist and architect CĂ©sar Manrique of Lanzarote, the easternmost of Spainâ€™s Canary Islands, where his legacy as a champion of low-impact development lives on in darling villages awash in white and rising no taller than a palm tree. Juxtaposed with windswept beaches and lush pockets of vegetation, the arid, volcanic terrain of Timanfaya National Park is like nowhere else on the planet; it often draws comparisons to the surface of the moon, or even Mars. Manriqueâ€™s abstract sculptures around the island complement the surreal setting, as do Lanzaroteâ€™s unique vineyards, planted piecemeal in rock-walled semicircles that shelter them from the winds. Wine tours are obligatory, and more than a thousand visitors come for the Lanzarote Wine Run & Traditional Cuisine Festival (June 18â€“19), an annual race-cum-wine-tasting extravaganza. The toasts continue with the St. John celebrations on June 23â€“24, when bonfires and festivities mark the beginning of summer.
Direct flights connect Lanzarote with London, Frankfurt, Madrid, and other major European cities.
Where to Stay
Built with the islandâ€™s volcanic stone and a sustainable ethos, La Isla y el MarÂ (doubles from US$200) opened in Puerto del Carmen late last year with 81 contemporary rooms overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Be Sure to Try
A volcano-cooked meal at Restaurante El Diablo, which uses geothermal heat to barbecue an array of meats and fish.
Divers can look forward to exploring Museo Atlantico, Europeâ€™s first underwater sculpture park by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who finished installing its 300 statues on the sea floor in February.
This article originally appeared in theÂ June/JulyÂ print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śThe Allure of Lanzaroteâ€ť).