Hollywood golden era actress, Rita Hayworth, once described Jameos del Agua as the ‘eighth wonder of the world,’ back in the 1960’s, when it opened to the public. The same holds true today, and this awesome natural attraction continues to astound all who visit it.
Jameos del Agua was the first of César Manrique’s projects to transform Lanzarote’s natural splendours into tourist centres, whilst maintaining a harmonious balance between man and nature.
The lava tunnel that shelters both Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes, was created by lava flows that emerged from the La Corona volcano in Haria some 21,000 years ago. It is 6km in length, 1.5km of which runs under the sea. The word Jameo is an aboriginal name given to a hole created when a cave’s roof collapses.
A crustacean welcome
Manrique’s lobster and crab theme runs through many aspects of Jameos del Agua, as you discover during your tour, including the giant iron lobster sculpture that welcomes you at the entrance.
Descending below sea level into the caves brings refreshing relief from the hot sun outside. A winding volcanic staircase lined with leafy vegetation leads you into the first, smaller cave, Jameo Chico. The ingeniously designed restaurant below serves delicious range of tapas and meals throughout the day. Click here for menu and opening hours.
No matter how many times you visit Jameos del Agua, there is always something new to discover. Today’s surprise was tucked away at one side of the restaurant: a small sitting area with a view over a fascinating smaller cave. Perfect for a moment of peace and quiet.
The volcanic stone path leads you into the lava tunnel, where you meet with the magical sight of the natural saltwater lagoon. These waters are home to twelve endemic species, including the white blind crabs, whose colour is due to pigmentation caused by the darkness of their habitat.
The reflection from its glassy surface tricks the eye, giving an illusion of depth, despite being quite shallow. This is particularly spectacular at night, as the changes in the special lighting effects throw different perspectives throughout the whole tunnel, revealing an array of tiny details, such as the lobster pots used for hanging plants from the roof.
Wining, dining and dancing
A natural spotlight shines through the roof on the other side of the lagoon, revealing cosy tables that surround the dance floor, host to ‘Jameos Music Festival,’ with a series of events throughout the summer months. César Manrique described this place as ‘the best nightclub in the world.’ You can even make a whole night of it and choose the Premium option with special menu.
If clubbing is not your thing, then ‘Jameos Nights’ is a wonderful evening for those who appreciate excellent food and regional folkloric music. An exquisite dinner is followed by live music provided by well-known local timple quartets, and smooth lounge music until midnight.
As the path winds upwards from the dance floor, a number of secluded seating areas emerge from various nooks and crannies, creating an amphitheatre-like setting above the dancefloor area. Another small bar, tucked into the cave wall serves drinks and snacks throughout the day, and is a perfect watering hole before continuing your tour.
Out into the oasis
As you emerge into daylight, into Jameo Grande, an unforgettable and amazing view awaits you. Manrique’s signature white flooring contrasts with the black lava walls, providing a stunning backdrop for the iconic, picture-postcard swimming pool. Lush, native vegetation adds a tropical touch to this exuberant oasis. The swimming pool was once open to the public, though that pleasure is nowadays reserved only for the King of Spain.
One could spend hours exploring the different hidden corners, imperfections in the cave walls that Manrique has transformed into either a bar, a viewpoint or secluded, peaceful seating areas. Wooden benches shaded by fig trees, remember to bring your book, or even just your thoughts. This is a haven for simply sitting and watching, reflecting and dreaming.
A globally unique auditorium
Glass doors with lobster handles open up to the world’s only auditorium built in a cave. The auditorium hosts regular music concerts, theatrical performances and even the annual film festival. Its perfect acoustics are evident even on a normal day. Just five minutes spent sitting in its eerie, cathedral-like atmosphere, and you could even hear a droplet of water falling from the roof with acoustic precision.
Climbing the stairs towards the exit, you finally reach ground level and enjoy the last spectacular views of Jameos del Agua from its many balconies and terraces. To imagine that all of this is underground, hardly perceptible from the outside. As Manrique himself once said: ‘Landscape and architecture can be considered as a whole when they are perfectly integrated with the land.’