Just 2km offshore from Corralejo is the small island of Isla de Lobos. Literally translated as the island of Wolves, the term comes from the Spanish word for Mediterranean monk seals (sea wolves), which once inhabited the small island. Although Isla de Lobos has not had a permanent resident since 1982, tourists visit via day-trips from Corralejo Harbour to enjoy the islands tranquillity, crystal-clear turquoise waters, walk the trails and observe nature.
The island measures just 4.5Km², with a coastline of just over 14km. There is only one village on the island – the tiny El Puertito (little port), which is little more than a few basic fishing huts. These are now mostly used by local fishermen’s families for recreational purposes during the summer months.
You can walk around the entire island in a few hours, though you should add an extra hour or so if you plan to walk up the steep slope of Montaña la Caldera. There are no roads on the island and you must stick to the clearly defined walking paths – it is prohibited to walk elsewhere and there are wardens patrolling.
The island was designated a natural park in 1982 along with the Parque Natural de Corralejo. It is also zoned as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA – Zona de especial protección para las aves) and is an important nesting site for seabirds such Cory’s Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel, Storm Petrel and others. The small amount of plant life that survives here has is drought-tolerant and able to cope with high salinity, such as the endemic siempreviva bushes that blanket areas in pinks and purples.
Interestingly, Isla de Lobos contains the archaeological site of a recently-discovered Roman settlement. The ancient settlement made purple-blue dye from sea snails – a very smelly business, and probably the reason why this activity took place on an offshore island. It is believed that 10-12,000 snails were required to make just 1 gram of purple-blue dye, which partly explains why this colour was only worn by the highest of aristocracy. The site is usually covered to protect it from wind and sand, unless excavation work is in progress.
One of the most photographed locations is the horseshoe-shaped cove, Playa de la Concha (sometimes called Playa de la Caleta). Its crystal-clear waters, light golden sand and protected waters make it a great spot for snorkelling and swimming. At the far end of the beach is a sculpture in memory of the seals that once inhabited the island. To get to Playa de la Concha (Shell Beach) head left from the jetty.
In the North-East of the island, you will find the Faro de Lobos (Lobos Lighthouse) located at Punta Martiño. The lighthouse, built in 1865, is one of the oldest in the Archipelago and originally ran on olive oil. It was automated in the 1960s and the building remains locked, though there is an information board outside for visitors.
Although it is off-limits during the breeding season (ask), many people climb the Caldera de la Montaña – the highest point on the island at 127m. This semi-circular-shaped hill is the remains of a volcano that has been partly eroded by the sea, and affords stunning views of Lobos, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura from its summit. This walk is best tackled early in the day, especially in the heat of summer, though you can always head to Playa de la Concha to cool off afterwards.
There is one very small family-run restaurant in El Puertito, though you need to reserve/book food before noon, if you plan to eat there.
Do bear in mind that there is very little shade on the island other than at the visitor centre (which also has public toilet facilities). Therefore visitors to the island should ensure they bring plenty of water and sun-cream (along with food, if you don’t plan to eat at the restaurant.
It takes around 15 minutes by boat from Corralejo Harbour and there are a number of vessels operating on this route.