Lanzarote, Spain

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Cruising to Lanzarote

The Martian Island

There's a lot of talk these days about sending a colony of humans to Mars, and if the idea of space travel doesn't sound like your cup of tea then you might want to take a trip to Lanzarote instead, with this beautifully arid island often being compared to the Red Planet. What's more, you'll probably find the climate here to be much more to your liking, with Lanzarote enjoying more than 300 sunny days a year.

Much of the volcanic terrain for which the island is famous is relatively young, with the Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) having been created in the 18th and 19th centuries as a result of some pretty enormous eruptions. Taking a trip to the Timanfaya National Park is a great way to learn more about the amazing geological processes that are still ongoing here, with temperatures just a few metres beneath the ground reaching 500 degrees Celsius. On a camel ride across the park, for example, your guide might demonstrate how water poured into a hole in the ground is immediately ejected upwards as a plume of steam. It really is one of the most alive landscapes on the planet.

Of course, if all this sounds a little intense, you could always just relax on the white sandy beaches that can be found around the island's perimeter. El Reducto, which is the closest beach to the capital Arrecife, is perhaps the liveliest of the lot, with plenty of bars and restaurants lining the waterfront. Alternatively, if you fancy getting active you might want to check out the Costa Teguise, which is known for being one of the best windsurfing spots in the world.

Lanzarote is also home to the largest aquarium in the Canary Islands, Lanzarote Aquarium. If you'd like to get on the other side of the glass and see the fish close up, the option to go diving in the shark tank could be right up your street.

Speaking of marine life, the local cuisine makes excellent use of Lanzarote's natural resources, with seafood being a real delicacy. Pescado a la sal (salted baked fish) and soncocho cananrio (a type of stew) are both worth trying, while the porous volcanic rock also provides unique conditions for wine-growing, with Malvasia being the most commonly produced grape variety on the island.

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