Los Pocillos and Puerto del Carmen are two neighbouring resorts on the coast of Lanzarote — so much so, that they meld into one, and walking between the two during your stay is easy. Puerto del Carmen is the livelier, all-singing, all-dancing resort; Los Pocillos is calmer, blessed with a vast expanse of sandy beach — but still enough shops, restaurants and bars to keep most holidaymakers happy.
Getting to Puerto del Carmen and Los Pocillos
César Manrique-Lanzarote Airport (AKA Arrecife Airport) is just over 4 hours flight time from Gatwick and Stansted airports.
The centre of Puerto del Carmen is about 8km from the airport — and Los Pocillos is even closer — so only about 10 minutes by taxi. The flip side: Puerto del Carmen gets its share of planes cruising along its coastline on approach to the airport, and while it's nowhere near a Maho Beach situation, there can be some noise — worth considering if you're a light sleeper or someone who needs complete silence to plough through the latest Dan Brown novel on the beach.
Puerto del Carmen need to know
Weather: Temperatures in Lanzarote tend to stay above 15 all year, hitting the late 20s or higher in the summer. From our experience, January and February tend to be too cold for sunbathing, but from March onwards through to the end of the summer, you're good to go. Like neighbouring Fuerteventura, Lanazarote's position in the Atlantic Ocean makes it susceptible to strong winds, though it tends to be a warm breeze. Rain is rare.
Language: Spanish is the official language of Lanzarote, though there's plenty of English, French and German spoken due to the large numbers of tourists.
Getting around: Buses are regular and reliable in these parts, with routes linking up most places you'd need to go. Routes 24 and 25 are the main ones for connecting Puerto del Carmen with Los Pocillos and towards Arrecife. Just bear in mind that parts of Puerto del Carmen town centre are one-way, so buses operate on a circular route. That said, it's a very active area, so you might not even need the bus. From dawn to dusk and beyond, the seafront is a hive of activity, with people strolling, power walking, jogging, cycling, roller blading and scooting backwards and forwards, plus open-air yoga, pilates and HIIT classes taking place. Bikes are readily available to hire, and the Superpedestrian electric scooter hire scheme is in use too — just download the app.
Special events: Carnival is a huge event in Lanzarote, with each town or resort having its own multi-day celebration, spanning the period from just before Lent begins, right up until Easter. Canary Islands Day falls on 30 May each year, and is a bank holiday. We found ourselves in town for St Patrick's Day 2023 and couldn't believe the fuss that was made! Swarms and swarms of people (and dogs) dressed in green flood the town, some heading straight for the harbour where the main festival takes place, while others got warmed up at the town's bars, lining the seafront with emerald. A sight to behold.
Accessibility: Generally, Puerto del Carmen is fairly accessible, with the flat, wide pavements along the main strip of Avenida de las Playas — but bear in mind that away from the seafront in the rest of the town, there are a few hilly areas, and it's a slightly uphill route from Los Pocillos to Puerto del Carmen.
El Diablo and Cesar Manrique: Wherever you go in Lanzarote, you'll spot an image of the devil, his arms raised in the air lifting a pitchfork, and his tail between his legs. This is El Diablo, a mascot designed by local artist Cesar Manrique, who you'll hear plenty about — he was a well respected artist and architect from the island, and his former home is now open as a museum.
Wildlife: Look out for parakeets flying wild in Lanzarote, as they do in London these days, particularly in palm trees along the seafront. Though they're a similar colour, Lanzarote's birds are monk parakeets, as opposed to London's ring-necked parakeets. Similar noise though.
Things to do in Puerto del Carmen
The main attraction of Puerto del Carmen is the coastline. The town is home to two main stretches of beach; Playa Blanca (not too be confused with the town of the same name, located around 20km further south), and Playa Grande. If you're willing to stroll about 25 minutes east of the latter, along the pedestrian-friendly Avenida de las Playas, you'll reach Playa de los Pocillos, which, for our money, is the best beach in the area, consisting of vast swathes of golden sand in a semi-sheltered bay.
One of the main pastimes around these parts is simply wandering along the seafront. As you walk out of Puerto del Carmen, look out for tiny alleyways and corridors leading from the main thoroughfare down to the seafront. Some are marked as private, but those which aren't are open to anyone willing to tackle the steps, and often lead down to secluded parts of the beach that you'll probably have all to yourself. That said, it can get a bit rocky down there so it's not always ideal for swimming.
Just beyond Puerto del Carmen is one of the island's biggest tourist attractions, Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park, a theme park/wildlife park along with a splash zone, which also offers themed country and western nights. Naturally, it's a popular day out with families, but do take one thing into consideration when you book tickets; it's home to captive bottlenose dolphins, and offers the public a chance to interact with them, something which has attracted criticism from animal rights groups.
Where to eat and drink in Puerto del Carmen
Puerto del Carmen has the whole sliding scale of places to eat and drink, from fine dining to... how do we put this... slightly less well-heeled venues that wouldn't look out of place in Bognor.
At the top end of that list is Tamasha, a respected Indian restaurant which won a European Restaurant of the Year award in 2022. Similarly, Restaurante Volcán Corona 2.0, located inside the Gran Casino, is an upmarket barbecue restaurant — think pristine white tablecloths, and sea views from the terrace. La Ola offers similar views.
Serenity is a whole upmarket complex of dining and drinking. Tables, sofas and jacuzzis can be booked on the rooftop, where you'll find a sushi and cocktail-heavy menu served up in the sun, or you can take shade in the restaurant and dine among chandeliers and peacock decor, admiring the sea view through floor-to-ceiling windows. There's also a ground floor ice cream parlour to catch the passing tourist crowds.
For something a little less... serious, hit up The Good Old Days, a 1970s-themed cocktail bar on the main road through town, complete with floral table lamps and space hoppers hanging from the ceiling; it's a vibe not unlike London's own Little Nan's. And while the decor doesn't exactly scream 'Spanish island' (though it's certainly screaming something), the food menu is pure Middle England: jacket potatoes, bangers and mash, afternoon tea and Sunday roasts.
It's not even the trippiest eatery in town. That award goes to Goofy Burger, a hamburger cafe homage to the Disney dog, with a giant fibreglass Mickey Mouse outside luring in the holidaymaking kiddies and their families. We can't vouch for the quality of the food or drink, having never been inside ourselves.
Puerto del Carmen has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Irish bars. There are dozens of them, from Sally Joan's, Ned Kelly's and Molly Malone's, though The Dubliner comes highly recommended if you require a pint of the black stuff to accompany your sun, sea and sand.
Top tip: for a sundowner cocktail, head out of Puerto del Carmen round to Los Pocillos, and pull up a pew at any one of the bars and restaurants at Centro Comercial Jameos Playa, on the eastern side of Playa de los Pocillos. La Barrica is our go-to, though it's had a bit of a refurb since our last visit. As you sup your strawberry daiquiri, gaze across the promenade and across the bay to the mountains beyond as the sun sets.
Where to stay in Los Pocillos and Puerto del Carmen
We're massive fans of Floresta Hotel, a rather tranquil 3* establishment with three pools, a couple of minutes walk from Los Pocillos beach. It offers a choice of all-inclusive or half-board stays, and has a bus stop right outside with buses towards the centre of Puerto del Carmen in one direction, and Arrecife in the other.
For something a bit livelier, Lani's Suites are situated closer to the centre of town, surrounded by shops and bars. It's a blingy affair — the giant 3D gemstone on the roof will let you know you've arrived — but once inside it's a romantic boutique hotel: adults-only, whitewashed buildings around a pool with luxury sunloungers and seaviews.
If you've got the desire — and, more importantly, the dough — to live it up a little bit, Hotel Fariones is a 5* hotel right on the seafront, simultaneously right in the Puerto del Carmen action and just outside of it. We'll be honest, we've never made it through the hallowed doors, but we have peeped in at the luxury sunloungers in the well-manicured gardens overlooking the private cove, and sighed longingly.
Alternatively, if you're missing London that bit too much, you can always book yourself in for a stay at the Hyde Park Lane apartments and villas — a stay there is a darn sight cheaper than anywhere near the real Hyde Park.
Shopping in Puerto del Carmen
As you might expect from an island with a strong volcanic presence (more on which below), lava is often repurposed into gifts and souvenirs, so expect to see plenty of the black substance made into jewellery, homewares and the like. One unexpected result of the volcanic landscape is the production of Lanzarote's volcanic wines. The whole island is an undulating mass of dramatic peaks, and if you leave the main resort and head out into the hills, you may spot grapes being grown on the hillsides, protected from the winds by stone semi-circles. The volcanic ash is ideal for growing vines, and as a result, wine has become big business here. It'd be rude not to take a bottle or two home, really.
Cork is another raw material that pops up regularly in gift shops, and we're huge fans of The Cork Shop on the eastern edge of Puerto del Carmen, for its unique range of cork handbags, purses and the like.
The bulk of Puerto del Carmen's shops are tourist and beach shops selling summer clothing, souvenirs and such, though there are a few more exclusive boutiques peppered among them, along with chain shops, the majority of which can be found at Centro Comercial Biosfera Plaza in the centre of town. Koala Bay and Fund Grube are worth seeking out for anyone in need of some fashion retail therapy.
Elsewhere in Lanzarote... and beyond
Over 50km2 of eastern Lanzarote is Timanfaya National Park, a protected area relating to the active Timanfaya volcano. Much of the National Park consists of giant rock formations made from solidified magma and lava, and walking isn't allowed in certain parts — though roads have been carved through the landscape, so you can visit by car or coach tour. Bear in mind that some of the roads are narrow and hairpin-esque, so only tackle it if you're a confident driver. Otherwise, guided tours are available from all over the island. In the centre of the park is a visitor centre with information about the volcano, live demonstrations of geysers, and El Diablo restaurant, where they use geothermal heat to cook the food.
Every Sunday like clockwork, Lanazarote's hotels and resorts spit out their human contents, pack them into buses and ship them inland to the town of Teguise. A tranquil Spanish town the rest of the week, it becomes the hub of the island as market stalls take over the huge town square and side streets. Sadly, since Covid it's not regained all of its previous sprawl, but there's still enough to keep even the most nonchalant of shoppers occupied for a few hours.
A 30-minute bus ride from Puerto del Carmen, Arrecife is Lanzarote's capital. But for our money, it's worth continuing five miles further up the coast to the resort of Costa Teguise for the day. Though smaller than both Arrecife and Puerto del Carmen, it has its own quartet of sandy beaches, the sheltered bay of Playa del Jablillo particularly popular with sea swimmers and snorkellers. Bars, shops and restaurants are plentiful, and there's a small market tucked away in a beautiful courtyard each Friday. Costa Teguise is also home to the island's aquarium, and though you'd struggle to pass more than a couple of hours there, we've found it a pleasant place to spend some time waiting out one of Lanzarote's (rare) rain showers. Oh, and if you find yourself wandering along Playa de los Charcos, we always find it fascinating to peek at the charming enclosed lido that's part of the Sands Beach Resort.
If you're willing to travel even further north up the island, Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes are part of a series of lava caves and tubes now open to the public. The former in particular is popular with tourists, home to a cactus garden, subterranean salt lake and trendy bar. The latter has an underground concert hall, illuminated by colourful lights.
One attraction which flies under the radar is the Lanzarote Aeronautical Museum, located within the grounds of Lanzarote Airport. Some visitors don't even spot it until they return to the airport to leave the island (it's not very well advertised) but it's free to enter, and contains 10 rooms of information on Lanzarote's airborne history, from the first planes overhead in 1913, up to the present day.
And if you've exhausted everything Lanzarote has to offer, it's easy to hop on the ferry from the town of Playa Blanca over to the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura. After a 30-minute crossing, the ferry spits you out in the resort of Corralejo, where you've got sandy beaches, watersports, shopping and more — read our Corralejo guide for the full low-down.