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Lanzarote - sport, culture, relaxation

landscapeLanzarote, in the Canary Islands, offers a great winter sun destination with stark volcanic landscape and beaches, sporting opportunities and - as we discovered on this Easter break - art and culture too.

We are drawn to a special sports hotel on the rugged side of the island which keeps our family fully entertained from morning until night. At Club La Santa we run before breakfast and the kids play hide and seek in a gang until night. In between there is tennis, windsurfing, badminton, football, road and mountain biking, swimming, yoga, zumba, golf and much more with classes, tournaments and races to spur you on. Olympic athletics and Ironman contestants are accommodated alongside active holiday makers.

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It is not the first time we have been distracted by this place, and on other occasions, we haven't managed to leave the resort. But this time I'm pleased to say we did venture out.

The weather in the North can be as much as 7 degrees cooler than the south of the island by the way, and does hog the cloud as was the case on our stay. Getting in the car in search of sunshine and adventure was appealing. The island has a volcanic national park, camel rides, fishing, sailing, wine, surf, a theme park and a Sunday market in Teguise to offer. Plus the late Cesar Manrique, an artist and architect, made it his life's work to protect Lanzarote from unsympathetic tourism development on his homeland (there are no highrise buildings) and enhanced wonderful spaces on the island to showcase its beauty for visitors to this day.

We visited Jameos del Agua - a special cave with reflection pool which can be a concert venue/night club for up to 600 people. Great acoustics apparently. We passed through this impressive place in the afternoon, along with bus loads of others, but despite its popularity still felt priviledged to have seen it. There is a pretty garden with shaped pool amongst palms too - but apparently only the King of Spain may swim in it. You can buy a multi-ticket that allows you to visit 3 of his locations for a reduced fee.

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jameospoolThere are various other Manrique sculptures and monuments, his home,museum and foundation, lookout points, a cactus garden with more than 1,100 different species, a windmill and iron wind sculptures that you can visit or pass as you navigate the island.

The larger resorts are in the south of the island at Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen. By heading to the northwest of Lanzarote you can discover the charming and fairly undeveloped area of Arrieta (close to Jameos del Agua and others of Cesar Manrique's work). This is a small stone and dark sand beach with a couple of eateries. We had a tasty paella decorated with oranges and delicious seafood at Casa de la Playa.

A stroll from the beach is Lanzarote Retreats with a cluster of yurts and black stone cottages around a pretty dipping pool and communal hang out areas plus a children's play area where friendships are made, allowing parents to relax. This place was in total contrast to our fast pace sport holiday. Immediately on entering you could feel yourself slow down and relax. There is an honesty bar and yoga can be arranged. The place is eco-friendly with some of the rentals including a Eco Hybrid car.

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Set back from Arrieta beach, and perfect if you want a self-contained holiday for up to 5 people, is a beautiful and modern eco house with views from the sunloungers on its decked pool area to the sea. Enjoy the private and mature tropical garden with many seating areas - an oasis in this striking black volcanic landscape. Eco Finca Natura.

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On our drive back we stopped off at Punta Mujeres - an untouristy coastal town with a natural swimming pool and various access points into the sea, rather than a beach. As the sun was finally out in force this place seemed worth a tapas stop and we took the last of the days rays at the waters-edge. There was a curiously adorned house there too, covered in plants and trinkets and shells.

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We crossed the island to return to our slick new apartment at La Santa and back on the treadmill! But next time I return (for all sporty La Santa guests do!) I will definately take another jaunt around the island.