It is said that you either love Lanzarote or you hate it. In our case, it was very clear from the beginning that we loved it. Nonetheless, we found some spots around the island that we would not recommend visiting. They are usually crowded with tourists and the ironically so-called luxury resorts have conquered the space, where youngsters go to get drunk thanks to the well-known Spanish cheap alcohol. In some cases, we stumbled upon picturesque sceneries and paradisiac beaches, but the crowds trying the get to the same spot would kill our wish to discover those spots.
In general, the south is the area that locals try to avoid. The biggest cities and resorts are settled on the south coast. The strong winds are usually more frequent (and with more power) on the north coast and they tend to diminish their strength significantly in the south, this is why all the biggest urban and touristic areas are found in the south.
If you are really looking into finding the authenticity of the place and the local culture, I would definitely try to avoid the south coast. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more agitated atmosphere, sand beaches with masses, and the opposite of isolation, then the south coast is your place.
1. Playa Blanca Area.
It is a bit quieter than Puerto del Carmen but just because there seem to be more luxury resorts and way less drunk people. There is a bunch of private urbanizations and vacation houses. The urbanized area is quite huge and it takes almost all the south-east coast. People come here to relax in a villa, resort or private house.
It seems that Playa Blanca is consolidating as the main touristic hub on the island.
2. Costa de Papagayo.
Among the worst, it might be the best option. This place is not really urbanized as it belongs to the protected “Parque Natural de Los Ajaches”. There are paradisiac beaches with crystalline waters. I wouldn’t include this place in the not-to-go list if it wasn´t because it addresses masses. During the last years, it became very popular among tourists since the beauty of the nearby beaches fits with the idea of what most people hold as a paradisiac place. However, this idea of paradise directly translates into an inferno reality of crowds, traffic, pollution, and dirt. The 3-euro entrance to the Natural Park doesn’t stop hundreds of tourists from visiting this emblematic site.
On top of the negative things, we should add the new campground managed by the government. Why is it negative? The camping is a filthy and crowded place. We approached the entrance to ask for information, but we didn´t even bother to leave the car because the smell was too intense. The enclosure of the camping is a simple big square where people just stack tents and caravans altogether. The camping creates a nasty visual impact to the protected natural park. I would spend 0 nights there!
Suggestion: I would only go back during the low season and very early in the morning.
3. From Puerto del Carmen to Costa Teguise.
Even though Arrecife is included in the places where I wouldn’t go to, what I really meant are the surroundings of the city. Arrecife is the capital of Lanzarote and as such, it deserves some attention.
But let me actually talk about the places you need to avoid. From Puerto del Carmen to Costa Teguise you’ll find the most touristy places for the masses. The coast is either filled with villas, resorts or private vacation homes. The constructions’ impact on what Cesar Manrique fought for — environmental value and harmony between art and nature —, a concept that you can see throughout the entire island but that is not noticed here.
Puerto del Carmen is especially atrocious, although you’ll be fine if you are looking for partying and doing mainstream activities. From Arrecife to Costa Teguise it improves a bit (if you compare to Puerto del Carmen) but you can still expect villas, big hotels, and English pubs.