Museums on the whole do not appeal to everyone – especially children – but tourism authorities in the Spanish Canary Islands have come up with one that might buck the trend: Europe’s first underwater museum. Lanzarote has always been known for its gorgeous beaches and laid back atmosphere, but this new aquatic hotspot is set to expand its cultural appeal, bringing it firmly onto the map as a yachting destination. Here, we discover visitor’s favourite attractions and highlights, so you can be fully prepared for your next shared boat ownership trip.
Europe’s first underwater museum: Lanzarote welcomes the Museo Atlantico
The Museo Atlantico opened last year after British artist Jason deCaires Taylor spent three years completing the ambitious underwater sculpture project on the sea bed with the help of a team of scuba divers. Situated between 12 and 14 metres beneath the water’s surface in the Bahia de Las Colorades, the Museo Atlantico consists of 12 installations and more than 300 life-size human figures, an 100-tonne, 30-metre long wall and gateway, and an underwater botanical sculpture garden.
Exhibits all carry a poignant message. A particular highlight is the ‘Disconnected’ Installation, which shows a couple taking a selfie, making us think of today’s social media-obsessed world and encouraging visitors to take an inward look at themselves.
Like most museums on dry land, the underwater museum (Lanzarote) has a clear start and finish, with artwork arranged in sequence. However, unlike any other museum in Europe, the exhibits can be only be viewed by those in wetsuits and diving apparati! Scuba divers can access the museum for 12€ per person whilst snorkelers pay slightly less – at 8€ per tour. The site can be accessed by boats which depart from the Marina Rubicon, with diving equipment available from several dive centres in the locality.
A revolutionary project with an environmental message
The idea behind the Museo Atlantico was to create a man-made reef that would protect the marine life of this popular holiday destination.
The first structures were installed in February 2016, some ten months before the museum was inaugurated by the President of Lanzarote, Pedro San Gines. Since then, the area has already seen an increase of more than 200 per cent in marine biomass with rare angel sharks, barracudas, sardines and even butterfly rays being spotted in the Bahia de Las Colorades.
Jason deCaires Taylor, who has created underwater sculpture parks at five other locations across the world, constructed the installations using environmentally-friendly materials which favour endemic marine life.
The artist recently said that the project was “intended to be a monument to absurdity, a dysfunctional barrier in the middle of a vast fluid, three-dimensional space, which can be bypassed in any direction.” It “aims to mark 2017 as a pivotal moment, a line in the sand and reminder that our world’s oceans and climate are changing and we need to take urgent action before it’s too late.”
The Museo Atlantico: a splash-tastic day out
The Museo Atlantico is an incredibly detailed underwater museum. Lanzarote may have only welcomed it in 2017, but it is now an institution making up part of the island’s nine award-winning visitor centres.
Open for dives from 9.30am to 5.30pm, from Monday to Saturday, the cost of entrance to the museum depends on how deep you dive, with an approved license to dive up to 16 metres required. Next time you are cruising the sparkling Canaries coast, be sure to make the trip!