Exploring CACT Lanzarote and Cesar Manrique’s Legacy

Jameos del Agua cave, CACT Lanzarote || Wanderiwngs.com

One of the things you will notice in Lanzarote is how big an impact Cesar Manrique has had on how people enjoy the island today. Thanks to him, Lanzarote’s nature has taken a primary role on every visitor’s and local’s lives. Natural resources and touristic attractions have become one. That is specially noticeable within his master works, also know as the CACT Lanzarote (The Art, Culture and Tourism Centers of Lanzarote).

In the ten locations that form the CACT Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique brought culture, art and nature together in a harmonious way. Gardens, underground auditoriums and volcanic restaurants are some of the wonders you will find while exploring CACT Lanzarote. He had a vision and a passion, which now more than 54 million visitors have enjoyed since 1995. Of course, you shouldn’t be an exception. During my visit to the island, I partnered up with Tourism Lanzarote, who graciously organised a combi ticket for me to explore the CACT Lanzarote centers and share my experience with you (For full ticketing information and where to buy the tickets, jump to the end of this post).

If you only have a week to enjoy Lanzarote, it is super easy to integrate your CACT Lanzarote visits into your Lanzarote day-trip itineraries. Most of the CACT Lanzarote spaces are located within the north of the island, and are not far away from each other. But yet, not all can be reached by public transport. Renting a car will make your life a lot easier.

Depending on where you chose to stay, you may have a bit more to drive or not. From Puerto del Carmen, one of the main areas in the island, you’d drive up north towards the first stop:

Jardín de Cactus de Cesar Manrique

Brunette girl in a black dress in front of a giant cactus

Jardin de Cactus de Lanzarote was created in 1991, and was Cesar Manrique’s last work. This garden is a collection of 4000 specimen of around 450 different species of cactus, located in an old volcanic sand (picón) quarry. This volcanic sand was and still is an important part of Lanzarote’s agriculture. The locals use it to cover their crop to keep water on the ground. The picón can keep the ground hydrated for up to six months. Given that in Lanzarote it rains about 20 days per year, it comes in very handy.

View over a cactus garden on a sunny day with a windmill in the background
Close up on a cactus with flowers and a windmill in the background

By the end of your time at Jardin de Cactus, Cesar Manrique will have probably picked your curiosity. If that’s the case, and I’m sure it will be, you should plan making an extra stop on the way to visit his former house, which is now a museum, on your way to the next CACT Lanzarote location. Finding the Casa Museo Cesar Manrique may be a bit tricky as most signs are a bit worn off, but it will be all worth it.

Iron cast gate on stone walls covered in lush plants and with lillac flowers

Mirador del Río

After an enlightening stop at Cesar Manrique’s house, you can continue driving north to the next big stop, el Mirador del Río. Where you will simply fall in love with the views, and you’ll wish yourself a trip to the neighbouring quaint small island La Graciosa.

brunette girl posing in front of the views over an island on a sunny day

El Mirador del Río is a viewpoint built in the 1970s in the northermost point of Lanzarote. The whole structure was in-built in the lava rock of the surrounding cliff to make it blend in with the environment.

The building is formed by two caves with big glass windows housing a souvenir shop and a lovely café with views over the Atlantic, with a walk-through platform around and a top leve terrace accessible via a beautiful staircase.

The café has some delicous freshly made smoothies I would highly recommend if your thirsty and the views that come with it are par to none! So, sit back, relax and take it all in.

Views over some cliffs on a cloudy day

Cueva de los Verdes

Once you are done enjoying your smoothie and the views in Mirador del Río, it is time to move on to the next stop. Follow along the coastline all the way to Cueva de los Verdes. It is a 7,5 km-long lava tube formed over 3000 years ago during the eruption of Monte Corona. Originally used by the locals to hide from European pirates and other incoming dangers arriving from the north of Africa. Now, it is a 2 km underground experience enriched by carefully placed illumination and background music, and a natural concert hall with capacity for 500 guests. If you have the chance of getting tickets to one of the many concerts taking place here, you won’t regret it!

Inside of a lava tunnel with green adn golden light and water reflections

Jameos del Agua

Once emerged from earth’s gut, all you have to do is cross the street towards the ocean and into the next CACT Lanzarote location, the beloved Jameos del Agua. Jameo is a local word that refers to a cavern, in this case the caverns resulting from the roof of the lava tube collapsing.

Garden-like entrance to a touristic location in lanzarote

This complex structure created in the 1960s and 1970s around the natural jameos invites the visitor to admire how nature and culture come together. With a restaurant, a volcanic research center and museum, and a volcanic auditorium, Jameos del Agua is also the home to a unique and endemic species of blind albino micro crabs. They only exist here and are extremely sensitive to any changes -of light, temperature, oxide, etc- to the pond where they live inside the Jameos, which could kill them. For that reason, throwing coins is prohibited, but you’ll still see some in the water in spite of the many signs around.

Jameos del Agua (CACT Lanzarote) || Wanderiwngs.com
Jameos del Agua (CACT Lanzarote) || Wanderiwngs.com

When you are done with your CACT Lanzarote day itinerary, and just a short coastal drive away from Jameos del Agua is Arrieta. A picture-perfect fishing town that will be the cherry-on-top on your perfect day trip. With a delicious dinner by the soothing ocean with yet one more of those beautiful Lanzarote sunset as backdrop.

Arrieta, a beautiful fishers' town in Lanzarote || Wanderiwngs.com

USEFUL TICKETING INFORMATION

The CACT Lanzarote Ticket Offices are located at the entrance of all their locations, and there are several combi passes you can choose from:

Bono 3 Centres: 21€ adult | 10.5€ child (7-12 years old)
2 centres to choose from these: Jameos del Agua*, Cueva de los Verdes and Montañas de Fuego
1 centre to choose from these: Mirador del Río and Jardín de Cactus

Bono 4 Centres: 28€ adult | 14€ child (7-12 years old)
4 centres to choose from these: Jameos del Agua*, Cueva de los Verdes, Montañas de Fuego, Mirador del Río and Jardín de Cactus

Bono 6 Centres: 33€ adult | 16.5€ child (7-12 years old)
Jameos del Agua*, Cueva de los Verdes, Montañas de Fuego, Mirador del Río, Jardín de Cactus, Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo (MIAC)- Castillo de San José.

Children from 0 to 6 years old can go in for free.

All combi tickets are valid for 14 days.

*The Jameos del Agua location has a surcharge of 2€ per person from 7:00 PM onwards (children between 7 and 12 pay half price).

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