The stretch of the cave below sea level is also known as the Tunnel de la Atlantida (Tunnel of Atlantis) and is the world’s longest known volcanic submarine lava tube.
The Green Caves were formed over 3000 years ago by the now extinct Volcán de La Corona (Monte Corona) and are now part of protected area within the Monumento Natural del Malpaís de La Corona.
When the volcano erupted, lava flowing towards the sea, melted the landscape, leaving a tunnel-like lava tube cave in its wake. As the lava stream cooled, a solid crust developed and when the lava finally drained into the sea, it’s upper crust became the cave roof.
A Pirate Haven
Throughout Lanzarote’s storied history, locals used the caves to hide from their oppressors. Dating back as far the Guanches, who were an aboriginal people inhabiting the Canary Islands, a high value has always been placed on the relative safety of the cave.
When Muslim slave raiders, along with North African and Europe pirates attacked and invaded the island, locals fled to the safety of the caves. In fact, there is even a tunnel chamber aptly named ‘The Refuge’ for it was so often used for shelter.
Due to the cave’s close proximity and ease of access from the small inlet of Teguise, during trying times, it was the island’s capital.
Cave exploration at its core is about exploring the unknown in hopes of unraveling a secret. Beyond its exotic history, it will come as no surprise that it has its own Easter egg in the form of optical illusions which explain the mystery of the cave’s safety.
The full explanation is best saved for your visit.
The only way to see the cave is via a guided tour, which your entrance fee includes. The entire tour takes roughly one-hour and is completed in a group setting.
Your guide will lead you step-by-step through the cave as they detail its colorful history. The route you’ll follow is the same one formed by the flow of molten lava and your guide will point out places of interest along the way.
While they’ve maintained the originality and natural awe, a lighting system was added for visibility. A cave is dark after all, and artificial lights are used for both accessibility and to showcase the cave wall coloring.
When the rock formations are lit up, they create stunning reflections in numerous colors. The reds formed from the oxidation of iron, simply gleen in the limelight.
Seating is available for those who want to sit back and admire what’s in front of them. While sweet, relaxing music plays in the background, adding to the serene and surreal cave atmosphere.
While many expect the caves to be green in color, it is but in name and notoriety only. Verde translates as green in Spanish, and the Verdes family were known to use the cave prior to tourism for shelter and herding goats.
In 1964, a 2KM stretch of the lava tube was opened to the public and local artist Jesus Soto prepared it to become known as the Cueva de Los Verdes attraction it is today.
While you may not have envisioned a concert hall inside a cave, when it comes to Lanzarote architecture, you must always expect the unexpected.
Located near the cave entrance and exit, the concert hall can seat nearly 500 people.
It’s such an unusual place for a concert, but cave acoustic provides for pitch-perfect sound and overall fantastic experience.
Is it Worth Visiting?
The colorful beauty of the caves and it’s enigmatic history are enough to warrant a visit, as is the fact it’s one the most interesting volcanic structures on the island; and possibly the world.
The facilities found at Cueva de Los Verdes, however, are few and far between so it’s best to combine your visit with another nearby attraction.
Closer to the sea, a portion of the lava tube roof collapsed. Another local artist and architect, César Manrique, created Jameos del Agua with and is one Lanzarote’s true masterpieces.
Most guided tours combine the two attractions together, and since they are both formed from the very same lava tube, it only makes sense to view one after the other.
Need to Know
While it may seem obvious, the cave is full of dark underground places and those who are claustrophobic might only be able to enjoy the more open space areas.
The cave also only has lighting for dramatic effect, not pure visibility, so those who are expecting a brightly lit experience may be disappointed.
In essence, it’s a polar opposite of Mirador del Rio‘s vast and wide-open views.
Most people arrive here via a tour with their ticket included, but if arriving by car you’ll have to pay the fees up front.
Cueva de Los Verdes is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (18:00).