The smallest of the inhabited Canary Islands, Graciosa is considered by many as the most authentic island, as the absence of an airfield forms a natural barrier preventing tourists from invading the island. Nonetheless, tourism is one of the island's main sources of income aside from fishing. The island has 2 settlements:
- 1 Caleta de Sebo. — The largest settlement with ca. 600 inhabitants, and unofficial capital of the island. It is also the largest settlement within the Chinijo Archipelago National Park. It has around 750 people, corresponding to 99% of the island's population.
Scarce natural resources have historically constrained the development and expansion of Caleta de Sebo. The Atlantic Ocean is the only resource available since the barren island has little agricultural potential. The town's economy has been built on its fishing industry, and unsurprisingly, it's harbour is the most important economic asset.
In the 2010s, tourists have discovered Caleta de Sebo as one of the few places on the Canary Islands that somehow managed to remain untouched by mass tourism — the absence of an airfield on the island being the main reason. Nonetheless, tourism has surpassed fishing as main source of income, and many of the characteristic white houses offer bed and breakfast facilities to visitors.
- 2 Casas de Pedro Barba. — The northernmost settlement of the Canary Islands, and the closest to the Iberian Peninsula at ca. 1034 km from Cape Trafalgar. It was the first settlement on the island, founded in the 1880s around a fish-pickling factory.
La Graciosa is in the Reserva Marina del Archipiélago Chinijo, with an area of 70,700 ha, it is the largest marine reserve of Europe. It consists of the islands La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste, and the Risco de Famara. Within the reserve, marine fauna and flora is managed sustainably, so you won't see any fishing boats with trawler nets in the harbour. Instead, fishing is done with traditional techniques such as hooks. Since the reserve was established in 1995, its achievements are remarkable, and the area has evolved into a habitat with the most diverse biological ecosystem of all the Canary Islands. The best way to explore these riches is by snorkelling or diving in the waters around the islands.
The only practical way to get to the island is by boat, and there is a regular ferry connection (4 times a day) from Orzola (Lanzarote) to Graciosa's only 1 ferry terminal. Ferry travel time is 30 minutes and costs €20 for a round trip.
The sea strait between Lanzarote and La Graciosa is only 1 km wide at its narrowest point, so if the water is calm, swimming to the harbour of Caleta de Sebo is feasible for the trained swimmer!
There is a 2 heliport 300 m west of the town. You should request a landing permit beforehand, as the heliport is usually occupied by a medical emergency helicopter.
Only roads in the capital city Caleta de Sebo are paved, the other roads on the island are dirt roads. There is a track connecting Caleta de Sebo with Casas de Pedro Barba through the inland, or a 5-km coastal walking trail.
There are rental opportunities for mountain bikes in Caleta de Sebo, as well as safari taxis. There is no organized public transport.
- 1 Church of Our Lady of Carmen (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen), Calle Garcia Escaméz, Caleta de Sebo. The church on La Graciosa, completed in 1945 and dedicated to Our Lady Carmen, the patron saint of Caleta de Sebo. It was consecrated as parish church in 1993. The altar stands out because of its numerous decoration elements drawing inspiration from the marine traditions of the city, most notably the main altar is in the shape of a fishing boat. There a references to the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron of the Canary Islands.
- 2 Chinijo Museum (Museo Chinijo), Calle Margarona 27, Caleta de Sebo, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-17:00. A tiny museum with well laid out exhibits on the geography and history of the Chinijo archipelago (of which La Graciosa is the largest island), with a focus on the traditional production of aloe and salt, as well as marine life. Offers a wealth of information on the history and management of the marine reserve.
- 3 Harbour, Avenida Virgin del Mar, Caleta de Sebo. 24/7. Watch colourful fishing boats dock in the harbour, and unload their catch directly into the kitchens of the numerous excellent fish restaurants around the docks. Free.
- 1 Buceo Graciosa Dive Centre, Avenida Virgen del Mar 119A, Caleta de Sebo, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 08:30-18:30. Organizes diving excursions, with boat and gear provided. Recommended for experienced divers only.
- 2 Las Conchas Beach (Playa de las Conchas). 24/7. One of the most beautiful unspoiled beaches of the Canary Islands, if not already alone for the fact that you'll probably be the only visitor there! With 610 m of white sand, it is one of the few remaining paradises on the archipelago. Free.
- 3 Playa La Frances. 24/7. A sandy beach at the southern shores of the island. Free.
- 4 Mount Scarlet (Montana Bermeja). 24/7. A dormant volcano, and the northernmost peak on the island. It was named after the iron-rich minerals embedded in the basalt rock that makes up most of the higher regions of the volcano. It can be climbed with a relatively steep path over basalt rock. Free.
- 1 Supermercado Margarita Páez, Calle Margarona 19, ☏ . Local convenience store.
As with many of the Canary Islands, La Graciosa's cuisine is characterized by simple dishes made with top-quality ingredients. With few agricultural resources on the island, fish is the base of almost all food. A traditional fish soup with sea bream and grouper is the caldo de pescado (literally fish soup). When corn is added to it, it is referred to as caldo de millo (corn soup).
Sancocho is a fish stew, prepared with salted fish, potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, and served with bread baked with the local gofio flour. Added to it is mojo, the most famous sauce in Canarian cuisine, of which 2 varieties exist: red (based on tomatoes, red peppers, and paprika), and green (with coriander, garlic, oil and vinegar). Red mojo (mojo rojo) is generally spicier than the green variant.
Many restaurants on La Graciosa will serve the catch of the day, which is just about the freshest fish you can imagine. Sardines, tuna, sea brass, and shellfish named lapas are very popular. The latter are typically prepared on a grill and dizzled in green mojo sauce. Less common are clacas, another native mollusc species with a more pronounced ocean taste.
- 1 Restaurante Girasol, Avenida Virgen del Mar 99, Caleta de Sebo, ☏ . 12:00-24:00 daily. Mediterranean restaurant with a variety of Spanish dishes (paella, filled peppers, goat cheese, ....)
- 2 Tasquita El Caleton, Avenida de La Virgen del Mar 53, Caleta de Sebo, ☏ . Unpretentious restaurant with a savoury fish of the day, and a view over the beach.
La Graciosa's barren landscape won't surprise that grapes don't grow well. All drinks are imported, and bars in Caleta de Sebo serve mostly wine produced on neighbouring island Lanzarote.
- 1 El Veril, Avenida Virgen del Mar 93, Caleta de Sebo, ☏ . 10:00-24:00 daily. Small bar with local beers and fresh tapas. The ideal place to wait for the ferry to return to Orzola.
- 2 Bar El Saladero, Avenida de la Virgen del Mar 107, Caleta de Sebo. Bar serving cold beers, toast, and tapas.
Most of the accommodation is in the capital city Caleta de Sebo, but there are rental facilities in Pedro Barba as well:
- 1 Pedro Barba Vacation Villas, Caserio Pedro Barba 16, 35540 Pedro Barba (along the main road). A group of 16 rental villas in the historic centre of Pedro Barba.
- 2 Evita Beach Apartamentos, Avenida de la Virgen del Mar 59, Caleta de Sebo, ☏ . Laid=back apartment hotel with a view over the Atlantic Ocean, on a 5-minute walk from the ferry dock.
- 3 Apartamentos El Marinero, Avenida Virgen de Mar 45, Caleta de Sebo. Check-in: 15:00-19:00, check-out: 07:30-11:00. Apartments for 4 guests or more, with a view over the harbour.
- 4 Casita del Rio 2, Nueva España 33, Caleta de Sebo. Check-in: 13:00-21:00, check-out: 09:00-11:00. Guest house hosted by Adrian Fisk, one of the guides on the island.
Serious crime on the island is almost unheard of, although pickpocketing does occur. When planning to leave belongings unattended on a beach, try to leave valuables in your accommodation, or hand it in in a bar or restaurant for safekeeping.