La Graciosa

First impressions of this island were perhaps colored by the journey to get there. We arrived at the end of a two day sail from Morocco during which two of us had stood watch and watch about including manual helming. The last few hours had been spent navigating around the partly unlit and unseen  islands in perfect darkness and when we switched the engine on it smelt of burning circuits. The final two miles were through a strait with 35 knot winds and when we made fast in the marina, I thought I was back in the Falkland Islands – barren, wind swept and treeless.

Later the wind dropped and we enjoyed a stroll through the sandy streets of Caleto del Sebo and visits to the cafes and bars along the sandy water front. It was here that I realized the serenity that this backwater island radiates. Here the rest of the world is far far away.

view from the summit of Montana Bermeja

view from the summit of Montana Bermeja

The second day was the winter solstice but here, at a latitude of 29°, it felt like summer so we hired mountain bikes and used them to explore the north of the island. There are almost no motor vehicles on the island, a speed limit of 30 km/h for the few that are allowed and only sandy roads. The gradients are easy and the mountain bikes weren’t too badly maintained. A true biking paradise.

Caleta del Sebo street scene

Caleta del Sebo street scene

We cycled across the island and then walked the few hundred meters up the dormant volcano of Montana Bermeja. As you walk across the red ash your view is across the unbelievably beautiful (and, because of the waves and currents, extremely dangerous) Las Conchas beach and the turquoise ocean to the Montana Clara mountain on a neighboring island. Such spectacular scenery with absolutely no sign of tourism.

We then cycled further to the tiny village of Pedro Barba. This collection of holiday homes was “closed for winter” so we sat alone on the harbour wall and enjoyed our picnic. A Land Rover full of visitors drove down the track in to the village, turned full circle and drove back the way it had come. Those sat inside photographed us so we waved and wondered what story the guide had invented about us.

Agujas Grandes volcano

Agujas Grandes volcano

We continued our circumnavigation of the the two highest volcanoes on the island (Agujas Grandes and Agujas Chicas) and then visited the surfer beach on the west of the island before taking a sandy path back to the “town” and enjoying beer and Tapas (snacks) on the sea front.

Unfortunately the next day we had to head for Lanzarote and back to civilization.

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