Getting to know La Palma, The “Isla Bonita”
Welcome to La Palma , the ” Pretty Island “. Preparing your holidays? Considering a trip to La Palma and need information? Let us give you a quick overview.
On the island of La Palma , the most north-westerly of the Canary Islands , just over eighty thousand people inhabit an area of 708 sq km. The local islanders, known as palmeros , are said to be “friendly people” who are “never in a hurry”. We like to think this is true and try to act accordingly. In this day and age, when everything has to be done at breakneck speed, with no time to spare, we like to take things at a gentler pace, steadily, without rushing, and to grant ourselves at least some control over the clock.
On La Palma , the distances in kilometres do not accurately reflect the real distances. Here, everything is measured in time: the valid question is “how long does it take?” From the most easterly point, Santa Cruz de La Palma , to the most westerly, Tazacorte, it takes about 45 minutes by car, and from the northernmost part, Villa de Garafía, to the southernmost, Fuencaliente, approximately two and a half hours. That is, of course, provided you don’t get “lost” in one of the island’s many quaint corners, or too absorbed by the landscape – which is precisely what happens to most people on holiday here!
The highest point on the island is Roque de Los Muchachos (2,426m), one of the places arousing the most interest among visitors. The site of one of the world’s most powerful telescope arrays – the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory -, a fantastic panoramic view of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park can also be enjoyed from there.
Once on La Palma , there are 6 things you mustn’t miss doing:
- A hike, even if only a short one; with a network of over 1,000 kilometres of sign-posted paths to choose from, there are routes to suit all tastes. Among the most popular are the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, the Volcano Route , and the springs of Marcos y Cordero-Los Tilos. But be warned: these are among the longest ones!
- A session of star observation. The exceptional quality of the island’s night skies, which are further protected by a specific “Sky Law” designed to minimise light pollution, are the main reason why many countries have installed their telescopes here. Would you like to learn more about the universe and the stars with a portable telescope?
- A visit to museums and ethnographic centres. They act as a window into our culture. There is a wide range to choose from: the Belmaco Archaeological Park , the Casa Roja Museum , the Pottery Workshop of El Molino, the Banana Museum , Wine Museum , Mojo Museum , Silk Museum , the Archaeological Park of La Zarza and la Zarcita , etc
- A car trip through the villages and rural zones on the island. You’ll discover many picturesque spots with real charm.
- A walk through the old part of the capital at night. Better at the weekend when it’s livelier and, if you’re lucky, you might even find a local group performing live music in the street, with Cuban rhythms setting the style. La Palma is a peaceful, safe island and its capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma , provides a good example.
- Going to the beach. On La Palma there are plenty of coves with black sand or pebble beaches and, if you go north, the natural seawater pools of La Fajana and Charco Azul are among the highlights.
As a reward, once you’ve done everything, why not treat yourself to a local speciality and tomarte un barraquito. If you don’t know what it is, just ask and give it a try!
In addition, the following suggestions might also be included in your agenda:
• Watching the sunrise from Roque de Los Muchachos
• Visiting: the Caldera de Taburiente, the Forest of Los Tilos , the Volcano San Antonio and Cubo de La Galga
• Watching the sunset from Playa Tazacorte
• Eating fresh fish at Casa Goyo or having lunch at the Jardín de La Sal.
Temperatures on La Palma tend to be mild. The greenery on the hillsides testifies to this fact, and also means that there has to be rain occasionally. Depending on the season, we suggest you bring adequate clothing, that is, both light and warm garments that you can put on and take off depending on the time of day.
In 2002, the entire island of La Palma was declared a “World Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO. It was the great variety of landscapes which, to a large extent, contributed to this, as every bend in the road reveals a new vista: barren lava flows which alternate with lush pine forests, deep ravines and high cliffs, small coves with their beaches of black sand, summits covered with laurel forest, and, somewhere or other, a herd of goats crossing the road.
In 2006, La Palma became the first place in the world to de declared a “Sustainable Tourist Destination”. It is our desire that all those who visit us feel at home, like “so many other palmeros “, that they get to know our traditions, take part in our fiestas (the Descent of the Virgin, the Indianos, the Crosses, Corpus Christi, etc), but above all, that they have memorable experiences during their holidays on the island, which in turn can help us preserve it for future generations.
Experience that “Isla Bonita” feeling, which has captivated so many of our visitors, and tell us about it on your return.
Come and feel La Palma for yourself!