El Golfo has a beautiful, wild magical air. Its black beach is backed by a half-exposed volcanic crater forming a geological amphitheatre in different textures and tones of rock in shades of yellow, green, ochre, red and black. In centre stage is a stunning emerald-green lagoon, just metres from the shore.
Direct access to the beach is restricted on one side as sea erosion threatens falling rocks. Visitors can, however, follow a path from the village of the same name that takes you to a vantage point where you can admire the view in all its glory.
El Golfo is one of the Geosites that forms the island’s Geopark and is listed as Place of Geological Interest, number thirty-five. It was formed some two million years ago after a dramatic hydromagmatic eruption. These typically cause much more violent explosions when the hot lava and ash (pyroclasts) come into contact with the cold sea. This type of eruption also explains the stratified deposits on the amphitheatre walls with their yellowish-greenish colour and whimsical, even surrealistic shapes. The outer slope of the cone was covered by the dark ash from another volcanic crater that formed some 400 metres away and was actually part of the 18th-century Timanfaya eruptions.
The black sand here is not sand, truly speaking, but rather sedimentary ash from Timanfaya. And the green lagoon owes its spectacular emerald colour to the microscopic algae that inhabit it. It connects to the sea through the subsoil, so it’s affected by the tides. Also called the Charco de los Clicos, the lagoon is named after a particular bivalve mollusc that once lived there until becoming extinct at the beginning of the last century.
As if its uniqueness and beauty alone weren’t enough to lend it fame, it is also the setting of the classic 20th Century Fox film, ‘One Million Years B.C’ (1965), starring Rachel Welch alongside prehistoric humans and dinosaurs. The film was a huge boost for Lanzarote’s image as an up-and-coming tourist destination. Much more recently, it was the beach where a furtive kiss inspired the story Pedro Almodóvar turned into the film ‘Broken Embraces’ which premiered in 2009 in Lanzarote.