El Charco de San Gines in Arrecife

In the light of day, El Charco de San Ginés in Arrecife is a glistening aquamarine. With small boats floating, it’s like finally seeing stars scattered on the clear blue sky. By nightfall, the lights from the encompassing cottages illuminate the lagoon. Their reflections reveal a city of lights hidden beneath the shifting dark sapphire to shimmering onyx waters. When in Lanzarote, this beauty with mystery and history is a definite must-visit.

The History of ‘The Puddle’

An old harbor with turquoise water and plenty of colorful boats; that is the glorious El Charco de San Ginés. Picture-perfect in every way, it’s no wonder it became a well-known attraction. Like most of the coastal towns in the Canaries, the land that surrounds it started as a fishing village. Thus, the historic inlet, whose name means ‘puddle,’ was initially used as a dock for fishing boats.

The Turquoise El Charco de San Gines
The mesmerizing turquoise gem of Arrecife – ©meinzahn

Born in the 1400s, the lagoon had humble beginnings, but it wasn’t meant to stay that way. As the vast ocean provided limitless resources, its fishing industry prospered. The size of its settlement grew just as the number of boats taking refuge in the little port increased. Eventually, it started floating in the big leagues, so much so that it became a major hub for transporting commodities and products.

For a couple of centuries, Lanzarote’s seat of power was in the village of Teguise. By 1852, however, the tide turned when Arrecife was declared the new capital. It wasn’t a surprise as the town was already shining brighter than its northern neighbor. El Charco became the island’s gateway to economy, trade, and transportation. Its year-round pleasant weather and even landscape contributed massively too.

Why Visit El Charco

Arrecife sparkles radiantly in the constellation of Canary tourism stars. A truly rich expanse, it has many beauties to showcase and stories to chronicle. Among its long list of jewels, none is as mesmerizing as El Charco de San Ginés.

Ringing the natural lagoon is the palm tree-lined Avenida César Manrique. Like all that is related to the legendary architect-cum-artist, it is art in nature and nature in art. Its every brick and square meter aim to display Mother Earth’s greenish-blue wonder. From here, spectators can witness its rise and fall, and turn from a pool to a puddle.

Avenida César Manrique
Gaze at the glistening lagoon from Avenida César Manrique – ©meinzahn

Walk on the promenade or enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the cafes in the area. Regardless of how visitors want to spend their time, they are sure to fixate on the glinting agua. Well, with El Charco’s breathtaking and relaxing panoramas, they can’t be blamed. Who can look away from the sight of charming little boats slow dancing to the tune of the tranquil waves? When the water recedes to the sea, how can one not watch the pomp of birds playing on the damp golden sand in awe?

Traveler Tips

El Charco celebrates Fiesta de San Ginés annually from August 15 to 25. Held in honor of the Bishop of Clermont, the very reason Iglesia de San Ginés exists, fun-filled parades and street dances liven up the neighborhood. Visitors can also watch the Miss Lanzarote pageant and Canarian sailing and wrestling. And, what is fabulous festivity without a big finale? On the evening of the 25th, grand fireworks display light up the night sky. The more than a week-long celebration can make anyone’s island vacation one for the books. Tourists who want to experience it must plan their holidays in time with the festivity.

All year-round, tourists can make the most by visiting nearby attractions around El Charco. The Iglesia de San Gines, the beautiful old abodes of Barrio de la Puntilla, the castles of San José and San Gabriel, the Balls Bridge, Avenida Maritima, and the César Manrique store are the most popular ones.

A Drawbridge to Castillo de San Gabriel
The Balls Bridge of Castillo de San Gabriel – ©chrisdorney

Dining Options

A copious number of Arrecife’s best restaurants are around El Charco de San Ginés. That means hungry holidaymakers are in luck. Not only can they savor the most delicious dishes, but they can also enjoy it with impressive vistas too. How about a plate of tapas while the sunset colors the lagoon dark orange?

Along the Avenida Cesar Manrique are four of the municipality’s outstanding food establishments. For the best tapas that locals go loco about, dine in Tasca La Raspa. While there, also try their cherry gazpacho, squid on hummus, cuttlefish meatballs, and fried green tomatoes with guacamole with any of their wines. For terrific cocktails, Malecon Restaurant & Copas is the place to be. Their duck salad, goat cheese salad, garlic prawns, Canarian potatoes pair excellently with the drinks too.

For vacationers who have quite an appetite but are also picky, Cerveceria Estrella Del Charco will not disappoint. They only serve tasty food in huge portions at very reasonable prices. The best-sellers on the menu are their enormous burgers, empanadas, Jack Daniels chicken strips, smoked salmon, fried calamari, and grilled sardines. Last but certainly not the least is the seafood haven La Puntilla Colon Restaurantes. Their most in-demand specialties are garlic prawns, fish with mushroom sauce, seared tuna, and shark meat with pig trotters. For those who prefer non-seafood, try their chicken breast stuffed with vegetables and cheese plate.

How to Reach El Charco de San Ginés

At the moment, there’s no direct bus from Arrecife Airport to El Charco de San Ginés. Worry not though. It only takes two quick bus rides to get to the lagoon.

From Arrecife Airport

Bus line 22 from of Arrecife Airport Terminal 2 takes visitors to Intercambiador de Guaguas (a bus station in Arrecife). It goes around every 30 minutes, and the trip only lasts for about 10 minutes. Once there, transfer to bus line 21 which heads to Playa Honda. One of its stops is Parque Viejo which is only a 5-minute walk to El Charco de San Ginés.

From Other Municipalities

For those coming from other municipalities, public transport is still possible. As Arrecife is the capital of the island and also a vital town, it is one of the stops or the destination of many bus routes. The Arrecife Estación de Guaguas is only a 14-minute walk away from the lagoon.

When Public Transport is a No-Go

Those who want to go by car, may hire one, hail a taxi, or book a private airport transfer. These options mostly appeal to those traveling with kids or with a lot of luggage as bus transfers can be difficult.

A Place to Take It Easy

A day-tripper is caught in a monologue of admiration on loop while in a mesmeric gaze into the lagoon. Thoughts interrupted by taking a sip of freshly brewed coffee, holidaymakers lose themselves in the spectacle within seconds.

Staring back to those captivated by its charm is El Charco de San Ginés. Humble in size compared to the very ocean it came from yet just as wondrous. It is a basin of clear waters playing between azure and emerald green, but at times it can be a puddle of golden sand. The calm with a bit of gentle excitement, it is a part of Arrecife where one can take it easy and slip into introspection.