It was January of last year. We were relaxing on the couch, watching one of the last movies of our Christmas holidays and feeling a bit deflated (as many of us do when Christmas and its associated festivities are coming to a close).

“That’s it,” my husband said suddenly. “I’m booking Lanzarote.”

Every northern hemisphere nation has its sunny destination of choice. In my native Canada, during my youth, it was Cuba. Today it’s the Dominican Republic or Mexico.

I hadn’t heard of Lanzarote, but of course I knew about the Canary Islands, which are located just off the coast of Morocco.

When I moved to Ireland, I learned quickly that “Lanzo” – the easternmost island in the Canaries – is the sun destination of choice for many. Mild year-round temperatures, nice beaches and affordable prices make it an easy option for a relaxing getaway.

L-R: Aine (6), Maeve (10) and Ciara (7).

I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was for a family holiday with our three children (aged six, seven and 10), but that didn’t matter because circumstance had already made this our destination of choice. A family member offered us their apartment to use for the week and it was a deal we couldn’t pass up. As it turned out, any reservations I had about bringing the kids were unfounded and we had a wonderful family holiday.

Getting there

Ryanair conducts daily flights to and from the island’s airport in Arrecife, while Aer Lingus operates several direct flights per week. The flight time – approximately four hours – is a bit long for small kids, but my three seasoned travellers were just fine with their tablets and books.

We chose to rent a car and this was a good option for our family. If you’re staying in an all-inclusive or planning on staying by the pool or beach for the duration of your stay, taxis are affordable and there is a good bus system which goes all around the island.

Having the rental car was affordable at approximately €200 for five days. Puerto del Carmen is one of the more popular destinations for holiday-goers and is just a ten-minute drive from the airport. Other popular destinations include Playa Blanca (40 minutes from the airport) and Costa Teguise (20 minutes).

The only downside to renting a car in Lanzarote is finding parking. We quickly learned that parking is a free-for-all. We also found that if we arrived back from day trips before 4pm, we had a better chances of getting a parking spot close to our apartment.

Six-year old Aine loved Famara beach.

Kid-friendly activities

• Waterparks

A visit to one of Lanzarote’s water parks is a fun day out if you’re willing to cough up the money. I narrowed it down to two options for our family: Rancho Texas, which is a quick five minute drive from Puerto del Carmen, or Aquapark Costa Teguise, which was a 20 minute drive away.

Rancho Texas is not just a water park – it is also a zoo with marine and bird exhibits. It is expensive, but a better option for children under the age of five. Tickets start at €36 per adult and €24 per child. They also provide a free bus service from main tourist areas.

As my kids are a bit older and just wanted to play on waterslides, we decided to visit Aquapark in Costa Teguise. We booked our tickets online the night before and arrived first thing in the morning to ensure we claimed sun loungers and lockers for the day. My ten-year-old absolutely loved this waterpark. There are a variety of waterslides and pools for kids of all ages.

It cost us roughly €100 for our family of five, plus extra for ice creams. When we visited, it was a hot day but the morning was quite chilly and the pool temperatures were freezing. My youngest was not able for any waterslides, so she and I ended up staying poolside for most of the day.

• Beaches

Having the rental car was great because it enabled us to visit as many beaches as possible during our trip. Our day trips generally took 20-40 minutes in the car and driving is a great way to see the island at your own pace (in air conditioning).

• Playa Vulcano

This beach was just a ten-minute walk from our apartment in Puerto del Carmen. Smaller than the main beach in the town – Playa Grande – it was the perfect size for our family. You can rent two sun loungers with an umbrella for €10 per day. The water is crystal clear and the beach is dotted with large volcanic boulders – the boulders in the water are home to schools of tropical fish, which meant hours of entertainment for my kids, who bought masks and snorkels in a nearby shop.

• Famara

While not the most kid-friendly beach in Lanzarote, Famara is one of the most stunning I have ever visited. Located on the northern coast of the island, it is a favourite haunt for surfers and locals – decidedly less touristy, you will not find sun loungers for rent or any shops or public toilets here, but you will be immersed in beautiful scenery. The beach isn’t ideal for swimming but is perfect for playing in the waves and walking along the shore.

• Playa Blanca

Another popular tourist town, Playa Blanca is found on the southern tip of Lanzarote and has plenty of resorts, hotels and restaurants in its vicinity. The beach itself is quite small and crowded, but the water is crystal clear and fun for the kids. This beach is the most easily accessed, but there are beaches in the surrounding region which are much larger and well worth a visit.

Other activities

• Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya National Park is found in the southwest part of the island and is where you will find Lanzarote’s active volcano, Timanfaya. There is an interpretive centre with interactive learning opportunities for the kids and you can choose to explore on your own, as we did (you can drive to the top of the volcano, but be prepared for heavy traffic) or book a day tour with Centros de Arte, Cultura y Turismo CACT.

• Teguise

The inland town of Teguise boasts traditional architecture and was the original capital of Lanzarote. On Sundays, there is a market with vendors selling lots of different knickknacks. We found the market a bit underwhelming, but the town itself is beautiful and well worth a visit on a quieter day, with some nice shops and cafes.

• Water activities

As with any island destination, there are plenty of water activities in which to partake during your visit, though most require advance booking and can book up very quickly in the high season. Catamarans, dolphin watching and even a submarine adventure are all on offer. Depending on the activity, expect to pay between €40-150 per person.

• Food

There are many food options in Lanzarote and most restaurants cater to British and Irish tourists. Expect to find a range of items on menus, from pastas to burgers and nachos. Most restaurants are family-friendly and my children were kept happy with burgers, chicken goujons and chips. We made good use of our apartment’s kitchen and cooked many of our own meals.

For food lovers, Lanzarote has a few local ingredients to try including their goat’s cheese, wine from grapes grown in the volcanic soil (a local bodega is well worth a visit) and Canarian potatoes, which are grown on the island and prepared simply by boiling in heavily salted water. Local food is usually served with red or green mojo – a dipping sauce made from peppers, coriander, garlic, chillies, vinegar and herbs and spices.

The balcony view in Puerto del Carmen. / Janine Kennedy

Where to Stay

We were happy in our borrowed apartment for the week, but if you’re looking for a family-friendly all-inclusive stay for spring and summer of 2024, have sent along the following offers (based on two adults and two children sharing; includes flights and seven nights’ accommodation).

• Seaside Los Jameos, Puerto del Carmen

Mini-discos, kid’s clubs, a playground and baby pool are just a few of the ways you can keep the kids busy at this resort in Puerto del Carmen. For a family room sleeping two adults and two children, you’ll pay approximately €275 per night in high season. los-jameos.comd

•Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort, Playa Blanca

A bit on the pricey side, this resort is worth the splurge if luxury stays are your thing. For a family room with two adults and three children, you’re looking at around €700 per night in high season.

•H10 Suites Lanzarote Gardens, Costa Teguise

Just 200m from the beach, two swimming pools and a kid’s pool with a slide. A bungalow for two adults and three children during high season starts at around €220 per night.

Easter break offers: 27 March

• 4* Sands Beach Resort

The 3-star Sands Beach Resort sits on the coast of Costa Teguise, Lanzarote, and is beachfront with five outdoor swimming pools, surrounded by a sun terrace. There are separate pools for children. There is also a kids’ club. Depending on age, a playground and a games room are available.

Self-catering €619 pp.

• 3*+ HL Paradise Island

Families love this hotel especially as Paradise Island has its very own waterpark – Dino Park. The hotel has three pools including a separate one for kids as well as a kids club with a playground and mini disco. Aqualava Water Park is 1km away and has plenty of thrilling water slides, lazy rivers and food to keep the whole family entertained.

All-inclusive €805 pp

Summer offers: 12 July

4* THB Tropical Island

The 4-star THB Tropical Island Hotel lies right in the heart of Playa Blanca, Lanzarote with a beach nearby. The hotel has two large outdoor pools. One of the pools has water slides and a splash park for kids. Children are catered for with a kids’ club with a playground and billiards too.

Rooms €739 pp.

5*+ Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort

Based in Playa Blanca, the Princess Yaiza has an outdoor freshwater and saltwater swimming pool, surrounded by a sun terrace and dotted with sun loungers and parasols. In the hotel, you’ll find an indoor pool, gym and a spa centre. Children of different ages are catered for with their own swimming pool, a kids’ club, playground and indoor play area. Billiards, table tennis and cycling are just some of the activities on offer. Plus evening entertainment with live music and shows.

Bed & Breakfast €1045 pp.

Read more

Travel: your carriages await...

Do you pintxos? Eating our way through Bilbao in Basque Country