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Lanzarote overview



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Charco del Palo North East, Dive site map - Courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Cavern at Charco del Palo - Courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Yellow Striped Bream Charco del Palo - Courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Tiger Moray Charco del Palo - Courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Cerianthids at Charco del Palo - Courtesy of Tony Gilbert

Scuba Diving in Lanzarote

Reader Reviews:

Dive Site: Charco del Palo NE (the Lava Caves / Mala)

Location: Near Mala, northern Lanzarote

Description: Reef dive

Depth: 0 - 60 metres (0 - 180 feet)

Visibility: 25 - 50 metres + (80 - 165 feet)

Rating: ****

The northerly dive at Charco del Palo takes you over a lava boulder field in 15m and to a ridge pointing roughly east. To the right of the ridge in 15-20m is a fantastic sight of a horizontal bright white sand plateau, it's called the "football pitch".

Following the ridge down at 33m is a small enclave of rock containing hundreds of shrimps. The visibility into the blue here can be fantastic and up to 50m or more!

Monitor all gauges and especially depth, return via the football pitch and look out for angel sharks, guitar and big ray varieties.

Off gassing is done at the 5m deep "lagoon" entry/exit point, where shoals of several hundred barracuda can be found. To the immediate right (north) of the lagoon is a scooped out rock formation with large pebbles on the bottom. If water movement permits there is a swim through at 4-5m deep of 10m length, but you must come back to exit normally.


Advanced North Dive

For the more advanced there is a slight variation on the northerly dive where the dive goes north at the ridge start following the line edge of the lava flows. This is a series of open caverns, its best to just the do the next two which occur at 30-40m by "jumping" the ridges. Here, tiger morays can be found, and the scenery awesome dropping to depths far below.

Return is straight up the lava flows to around 12-15m, and south back to the lagoon. It can be confusing as to which rock exit it is so plan extra time in.


A tour de force of marine creatures inhabiting the stunning lava scenery that makes up this dive site. With lava formations and sand plateaus on a grand scale and a variety of marine creatures is why this place is popular with local and tourist divers alike.

Mention Charco Del Palo or Mala to some divers and a broad grin may be returned as they remember their dive there. To the north of the island is the village of Mala and on its coast, is the small village of Charco del Palo (Paloma). Here the lava cliffs have tumbled wildly in to the sea probably from the ancient eruption of the volcano that dominates this landscape, Montana Corona.

It is also on this coastline that many lava tubes have formed, some broken and collapsed (jameos) and here sea arches can be seen at the shoreline, which plunges steeply in to the sea. The access point is therefore a small lagoon area, after a small walk down a sand covered pathway off the cliff, passing the local nudists (no peeking now!).

There are two dives to be had, the deep first dive and the shallow second dive, both start in the lagoon at 5m which at times has large collections of bream or even barracuda swaying in surge. The first dive moves directly out, then 60 degrees across a field of smoothed black large pebbles where many blennies, scorpionfish, armoured starfish and the occasional octopus occur, usually in black and white. This drops to around 15m, where a ridge is picked up on the left and followed. Here the panorama opens out into a marvellous vista, the ridge descends but to the right a massive white patch of sand occurs, locally known as the football pitch because of its proportions and size. This starts horizontal before arching to depths and contrasts sharply with the rich blue water above.

The water is very clean at this point, so much so the visibility can be stunning. Following the ridge out and down it is covered in a proliferation of encrusting sponges and black urchins, whilst dense patches of ornate or Turkish wrasse congregate and above clouds of fluttering damselfish varieties occur. At about 33m is a small enclave where hundreds of shrimps may be viewed. At this point usually the dive is at its halfway point. The main problem is several divers seem to think they are in shallower depths than they actually are, owing to the clear visibility. It is therefore up to the guide to ensure divers are coerced into returning.

The lava from Montana Corona obliterated the best part of the pristine white sands, with huge fiery blocks of fragmented rock pummelling the surrounding district. The lava flowed slowly north and eastward until it hit the sea where it cooled. Lanzarote is the top of an undersea mountain, so the lava stopped at its flanks whilst undersea, the sand remains on its upper portions. Here, in the north of the island the "mountain" drops away fast to over 3000m not many metres offshore.

Depth can be "felt" at the 30-40m, so it's best to return to the upper levels where different types of lava formations can be viewed almost as formed with rope and pillow lava up to 15m or so. The caverns around are home to tiger morays and other masters of disguise. The lagoon hopefully once more appears as the coastline is similar!

Tony Gilbert

Charco del Palo Resources

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