The best itinerary to discover Lobos Island
Between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura lies a small islet called Lobos, whose sinuous shape exerts a magnetic charm.
Its volcanic nature is evident, especially when looking at Montaña de la Caldera, located on the northwest tip of Lobos, just over 100 meters high: it’s worth climbing it, accompanied by a guide as required by regulations, because from its summit, you can enjoy an unmissable panorama.
From the top, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura offer a breathtaking, truly unforgettable spectacle, and the dunes of Corralejo Natural Park reveal their full splendour.
Walking along the coastal trail that encircles the island is truly an experience to try: starting from the south, from Puertito, a small fishing settlement where the island’s only restaurant is located, you pass through small brackish water lagoons where heroic plants manage to thrive.
Then you reach the lighthouse on the northeast tip, walking amidst dark volcanic rocks that have become the natural habitat for many types of seabirds.
You can return back through the lunar landscape offered by the innermost trail. After ascending La Caldera, it’s truly invigorating to take a swim in Playa de la Concha (or La Caleta), a crescent of white, fine sand with transparent and calm waters that invite you for a dip.
Roman remains on Lobos Island
Archaeologists have proven that even in Roman times, the purple dye was extracted on Lobos Island, which was used to decorate the clothes and hairstyles of nobles and patricians (there are remains on Playa de La Concha that testify to this).
Lobos owes its name to the many sea lions (here called “wolves marinos,” as “wolf” is “lobo” in Spanish) that formerly inhabited this little corner of paradise, and that were completely exterminated by the Spanish conquistadors during their voyages to and from the Americas in the colonial era: they were consumed for their meat, their skin was used to make shoes and belts, and their fat was utilised.
Lobos and the threat of mass tourism
Lobos can be reached by both regular ferries that go to the pier and water taxis, high-speed inflatable boats that enter Puertito directly.
The boom in tourists that are literally invading the island has shown how human greed can put an unprotected paradise like Lobos at risk.
The islet has long been declared a Protected Natural Park, Reserva Natural de la Biosfera, regulated by rules that limit the maximum daily influx to 200 people on the island and prohibit walking off the designated trails.
The local press has highlighted that, despite the provision of issuing a permit to visit Lobos and maintaining the limit of 200 visitors per day, since the spring of 2017, the increased demand for tourism to Lobos has resulted in over 2,000 visitors per day on the islet.
The consequences of this invasion are worrisome: Lobos lacks public bathrooms, wastewater treatment systems, and services capable of defining and protecting the environmental damage caused by thousands of people coming and going every day.
Water taxis load and unload hundreds of tourists and, while entering and exiting Puertito, narrowly avoid snorkelers, posing evident risks.
Local institutions have begun to debate this issue these days: I hope they aim for the respect of this space, not just its exploitation, which humans have been subjecting this paradise to since ancient times.
Dolphins of Lobos Island
The best gift anyone could give me is taking me out to the open sea between Lanzarote and Lobos to see the dolphins: the emotions these creatures give me are hard to put into words.
I often think about how this invasion of tourists can destroy their habitat, threaten them to the point of making them flee, or even worse, exterminate them, just like what happened to the sea lions.
I know perfectly well that tourism is a blessing for these islands: it provides jobs and allows many people to have unforgettable experiences visiting the natural paradises we have here.
I just wonder if the supposedly sophisticated human brain will find a way to enjoy Lobos without trying to destroy it in every possible way.