Jameos del Agua – A Magical Grotto

If you are exploring the North of Lanzarote, this is definitely worth a visit.

A huge lobster sculpture welcomes you to the amazing Jameos del Agua. A short walk from the coast, the Jameos del Agua is a magical place, probably best described as a fantasy grotto. It is located inside part of the world’s longest lava tube, at the end nearest to the sea.

The 6 km long lava tube (Túnel de la Atlántida) was the result of the eruptions of the Corona Volcano about 21,000 years ago. The eruptions happened during the last Ice Age when the sea level was much lower and the shoreline was further away. As a result, the final 1.5km-long section of the lave tube is below sea level today.

Inside the Jameo you’ll find the world’s only blind albino crabs, a water-filled cave, a sculpted pool, a concert hall, and a restaurant. The interior lake was created by seawater infiltrating the cave and gives rise to a unique geological formation.

The Jameo del Agua can get very busy especially if you’re there at the same time as the tour buses from the cruise ships. Definitely come early or late if you can. Be careful as you walk around its easy to stumble, especially in the cave and volcanic rocks are sharp!

What is a Jameo

A jameo (“ha-may-oh”) is a volcanic cave that’s open to the sky. During an eruption molten lava flows and the surface hardens, creating tubes that the lava runs along. Sometimes the roof is blown off due to pressure building up inside the tube. These large openings are called a jameo.

Cesar Manrique

The Jameos del Agua was conceived by the local artist and architect Cesar Manrique during the 1960s. Many people regard this as his most spectacular creation. It was also his first tourist creation on the Island.

His design took a volcanic tunnel that had fallen in here and there and transformed it into a fantasy grotto. While a lot of other Spanish tourist centres were building golf courses and water parks to attract visitors, Manrique took a different approach.

He planned to fuse art with nature and create a unique cultural attraction. Some people thought he was crazy, after all, what could possibly be forged with lava? When the site was completed, these people soon changed their minds. Rita Hayworth visited in 1966 and she said she thought it was “The eighth wonder of the world”.

Like all the sites Manrique helped create, the Jameos del Agua has its own special symbol. This one uses a lobster. A big lobster statue welcomes visitors in the car park, giant lobster pots are used as planters for the giant ferns and lobster shaped door handles adorn the main concert auditorium. I’m sure you’ll notice others as you walk around.

Visiting the Jameos del Agua

The entrance fee is €9.50 and the site is open all year round. You can get here by car or public bus (Linea 9 from the Arrecife Bus Station). Many of the island’s coach trips also visit here. There is a bar/restaurant in the Jameo Chico and a cafe next to the Casa de Los Volcanes with views over the pool and across to the Atlantic Ocean. Be warned though, the food is a touch expensive.

You can actually buy a multi-attraction ticket. There is one that covers the Jameos del Agua, Mirador del Rio, Montanas del Fuego (Timanfaya), Jardin de Cactus, Cuevas de los Verdes, and a couple of other museums/castles. These tickets are available for 3, 4 or 6 attractions. You can only buy this in the first place you visit – see the notice on the wall near the ticket office. You don’t have to use the multi-ticket on the same day, you can use it on different days, and you don’t have to say which day you will use it. So if you plan on visiting more than one attraction, this will definitely save you money.

Jameo Chico

When you enter you initially descend some stairs into the first Jameo. Here there is a cool cafe bar area with tropical plants. Huge lobster pots serve as hanging baskets for giant ferns. Birdsong and new age music or sometimes classical complete the mood. The cafe area overlooks a small underground lake.

The little niches and alcoves come into their own on an evening when this becomes a nightspot. The Jameos is doubly atmospheric on Tuesday and Saturday evenings when you can enjoy a meal, traditional folk music and dancing.

Underground Lake

The salt lake is completely natural and the water very clear and regulated by the Atlantic Ocean. It is populated with hundreds of tiny, blind, albino, almost fluorescent crabs (Munidopsis Polymorpha). These are only found on Lanzarote and today they are very rare and almost extinct. The crabs once lived deep in the ocean but were stranded here a long time ago.

Jameo Grande

At the end of the cave, cross the lake by the footbridge and climb the steps from the cave back into the daylight where there is a surprise waiting. The Jameo Grande is a south-seas style swimming pool. The pool is a beautiful bright blue with a blinding white beach, black and grey volcanic rocks, and a tall palm tree set at an angle over the pool. Sadly swimming is not permitted, an exception is made for the King of Spain, allegedly.

No doubt you’ll have seen a picture of this. It appears on a myriad of postcards, but it’s only when you are actually here there that you realise what a totally amazing place it is.

Concert Auditorium

From the far end of the Jameo Grande, you can visit the auditorium which has been built in part of the volcanic tube. This seats 600 people and has near-perfect acoustics and is used for shows and concerts.

La Casa de los Volcanes

Some more steps lead from the pool up to the top, where there is a terrace with a café and also the Casa de los Volcanes. This is a small scientific museum with an interesting exhibition on volcanism. This is an excellent introduction to the world of volcanoes.

Behind glass screens, you can have a look at various working seismographs and other sensory equipment used by the monitoring station.

An annual meeting of international volcanologists is hosted by The Casa de los Volcanes and from time-to-time, it provides talks about volcanoes to the general public.

Jameos del Agua – Picture Gallery

Coastline

When I arrived here I fancied stretching my legs for a bit. As the coast is not very far away, I went there for a walk. It’s very windy here, the coastline here is quite rugged and the sea very rough. The only people in evidence were a group of windsurfers who looked to be having the time of their life. Anyway if you want a bit of solitude and some time watching the waves this is a great place to walk.

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