The salt flats of Lanzarote are rooted in the island and its evolution. For years the inhabitants of the island caught the salt directly from the puddles during the low tide, a process that is done today in many corners of the island. It was with the arrival of the Castilians when the first salt flats were built on the island of Lanzarote, a fact that was very important and that it was closely linked to the fishing industry since salt was used to conserve fish.
Today there are few salt flats that remain in operation, but for years it was a very important industry. There are some vestiges of the salt flats of Puerto Naos in Arrecife. These salt flats belonged to some families of the island during the 19th century. For years the workers (mostly women), worked tirelessly leaving their mark and sweat from the 20s until the 70s, building by hand both the cuts and the tanks on terraces, supplying salt to the fishermen and the canning industries.
The oldest salt flats of the Canary islands are also found in Lanzarote, and are known as the Salinas del Río or Gusa. In these salt flats the salt was collected from the 15th century. However, it was at the beginning of the 16th century when they were repaired by the lord of the island Mr. Sancho de Herrera. In the 17th century salt production was very high. Until the creation of new salt flats in Gran Canaria in the mid-eighteenth century, the Salinas del Río were the only ones of great importance in the Canary Islands, which meant that most of their production would be exported to the important islands such as Tenerife.
The salt flats of Guatiza are also known as the salt flats of La Caleta or just Los Agujeros (the Holes). They were built in 1940, very close from Los Cocoteros coast. For some years, from here it was collected around 850 tons of good quality salt. Nowadays this activity has decreased considerably, however it is still in use and it is possible to walk around the water tanks “cocederos” . Here you can enjoy the saltpetre from the breaking sea, appreciating the rose, violet and white tones of the tanks in process and its stacking piles with a triangle shaped ready to its future distribution.
The most important salt flats currently on the island are in the south of Lanzarote, in Yaiza, and are known as Salinas de Janubio. Today, this area, along with El Golfo and Los Hervideros is considered one of the most emblematic landscape of Lanzarote. These salt flats were built from 1895 to 1945. Nowadays the production is around two thousand tons per year, but it is used basically as a local product or just for use on the island.
From 1987 the Salinas de Janubio are included in the Canary Islands Network for Protected Natural Areas, first of all as a Natural Area, and then was considered also as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Also it has a high nature value, as it was declared as International Bird Area, becoming part of NATURA 2000 because this place is one of the most important nesting areas of the island and a resting place for many of the migrating birds.