I'm sure if you asked people what's the most important aspect of their holiday, the answer would undoubtably be the weather. But how do you really know what it's going to be like? It's all very well looking at temperature and sunshine charts in brochures or poring over statistics on weather websites, but they don't really explain in detail what the weather will be like.
Having lived in Lanzarote for over 12 years, I've been able to witness first hand what the weather is like each month of the year as well as local variations, so here it is - a unique summary of what you can expect on the island month by month.
The Canary Islands are often called "The Fortunate Islands" because of their climate. Throughout the summer months, you'll find much less humid conditions than you will get in the Mediterranean as Lanzarote is in the much cooler Atlantic Ocean, so you can sleep comfortably at night and move around during the day without discomfort.
To start generally, Lanzarote's weather is controlled by a large area of high pressure which is almost permanently present in the Atlantic to the west of the Canaries. It's commonly called the Azores High, due to its centre being located close to the Azores. High pressure normally means fine weather, and the Azores High extends its influence over Lanzarote for much of the year. Being to the west, and with winds circulating clockwise around high pressure, the wind in Lanzarote comes mostly from the north. As a result, the best of the weather is found the further south you go on the island. Very occasionally the wind will switch ESE and bring very dry, hot winds from the Sahara. In summer, this can result in temperatures over 40C, but these values don't last long. Sometimes these hot winds are accompanied by dust picked up by the winds from the desert, bringing what�s called a Calima. This makes for hazy skies and it can be quite unpleasant for a couple of days.
Often the weather will start cloudy over the island due to moisture being picked up from the sea overnight, but this normally burns off leaving sunny blue skies for the rest of the day, especially in summer and to the south and east.
January's weather can be a bit mixed with a low pressure or weak front passing over the islands now and again resulting in a few showers, but many of these come overnight or first thing in the morning. Expect a few cloudy days but equally an average of around 6 hours of sun a day, best as always in the south of the island. Winds not particularly strong unless a deeper low pressure comes close - not very common. Average maximum temperatures will be around 22/23C. It will be cooler in any showers but higher if winds switch more easterly.
Lanzarote's coolest month with temperatures averaging 21/22C maximum. Still not bad compared to the 6/7C in the UK! It can feel a bit cool though in the wind, especially in the evening, so bring something warm with you to keep out the nighttime chill. Nice and warm in the sun, which should average about 6 hours a day again. Showers are possible but the chance a little less than January.
The sun getting stronger now, so slap on the sunscreen! The threat of showers receding, and with the land heating up a bit more, these are more likely inland and at night. Temperatures begining to rise a little to an average maximum of 22/23C. The southwest is especially sunny at this time of year as Monta�a Roja produces its own little microclimate in the area.
Pretty similar to March, but the average hours of sun a day up to 8/9. By now, the resorts faring much better for sunshine as cloud often builds up inland during the day. Bear this in mind if visiting Timanfaya as you may set off from a sunny 25C in Puerto del Carmen to find a rather cloudy and chilly 18C up the mountain.
Trade Winds from the Azores High now starting to increase a bit, but the threat of any showers virtually diminished for the resorts, where there will be plenty of warm sun. Again, it can be quite cloudy inland at times, sometimes producing a heavy shower. Temperatures on the increase to 26C.
A lovely month, not too hot and with cooling winds, rather strong at times. No rain and with an average of 11 hours a day of sun, you'll be glad of the few clouds at times. Often starts cloudy in the morning.
This is the windiest month of the year but of course this is when you most need it. Come out of the wind into any shelter and you'll cook! Any rain most unlikely, perhaps a very isolated thunderstorm. Surprisingly maybe, sunshine hours drop very slightly in July. This is due to large banks of low cloud forming over the ocean to the north as warm winds come down from Spain. The day will often start cloudy but this cloud normally breaks up to the south and east of the island giving far more sun to the resorts. It often remains cloudy in the north and west, so places like Famara can remain cloudy for some days. Temperatures by now up to 27/28C.
Winds decreasing but still normally very refreshing cooling breezes from the Atlantic. Lanzarote's warmest month with temperatures averaging 28/29C. No rainfall, and together with September, probably the months when the weather is most consistent across the island with little in the way of variation - many sunny days after a cloudy start to the day sometimes. If summer heat is a problem for you, avoid apartment blocks which are quite enclosed and don't benefit from the cooling breezes. Villas have much more space around them and thicker walls keep them nice and cool inside. Also, if you're staying in Playa Blanca, the west side of the resort is usually 2/3C cooler in the summertime than the east side, as it has the sea on 2 sides benefiting more from the cooling breezes.
My favourite month in Lanzarote! The sun has lost its intensity, although still strong, so be careful! The summer heat has receded with temperatures around 26/27C, and the strong winds died down. No rain at all and endless days of deep blue skies and a few passing clouds. Lanzaluvly!
Much of the month remaining sunny and warm with temperatures around 25/26C and an average of 7/8 hours of sun a day, but as the month goes on, quite often the first signs of a change with some showers, often heavy, later in the month. As winds are much lighter now, sometimes a seabreeze can cause a line of cloud to form on the south coast in the middle part of the day.
Can be a bit of a changeable month with a few cloudy days with showers, but equally plenty of sunny ones, and with temperatures still around 24/25C, a good time for some late warmth before winter sets in to northern Europe. Winds can be quite variable, so again the chance of a bit of cloud on the south coast.
The sun now quite low in the sky but still strong enough to get a good tan. With an average of 6 hours of sun a day, you should achieve that unless you are unlucky and have a rather cloudy week. At some time in the month, an Atlantic depression is likely to bring 2 or 3 days of unsettled weather with some showers or even 2/3 hours of rain. Temperatures still around 22/23C, but remember the rather chilly evenings.
So to summarise, if sunny skies are of the utmost priority for your holiday, then you will fare best in the south of the island, although the 2 eastern resorts aren�t far behind. If you have a spare week to top up your tan, avoid inland in late spring and mid summer. And if you want to get as little sun as possible, pitch a tent on Timanfaya!