La Palma is one of the Canary Islands of Spain off the northwestern coast of Africa. The rugged, wooded terrain is dotted with volcanoes such as Teneguía and Cumbre Vieja. The capital of the island, Santa Cruz de la Palma, is a port city with narrow cobbled streets and houses with wooden balconies. The Caldera de Taburiente National Park has a large crater-shaped formation and is covered with pine forest and intersected by waterfalls.
Clocks on La Palma tick a little slower
As a visitor, you notice quite fast that the clocks on La Palma tick a little slower. Early in the morning, we meet a hobby fisherman at the port of Espindola, who throws out his fishing rod but hopes not to fish anything in the first hour because he is simply still too sleepy for that. The construction workers who allow themselves a bath in the sea shortly before noon are also a symbol for the decelerated life on this 706-square-kilometers island.
The Palmeros are proud of their Isla Bonita as La Palma is also called. The third smallest of the Canary Islands does not attract as many tourists as its neighbors Gran Canaria and Tenerife. This is perfect for those looking for peace and tranquillity and has made the island a Mecca for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts with its mild climate all year round.
La Palma is great for hiking
So we start the day with the obvious and put on our hiking boots. The authorities have invested a lot in the last decades to bring the island up to date in terms of trekking. Because the USP of La Palma is not long sandy beaches like on Fuerteventura but its diverse landscape with dramatic coastal areas and breathtaking mountain wilderness.
Only 20 years ago, there were hardly any marked hiking trails. Today the island has a 1000 km large network of trails of different levels. This includes the well-developed route to the Mirador Espigón Atraversado viewpoint in the north of the island that is characterized by deep gorges with lush vegetation. The south, however, is wrapped in black volcanic rock and home to Cumbre Vieja, a chain of volcanoes 2000 meters high and 14 km long. You can experience this impressive landscape on the fantastic Ruta de Los Volcanes, leading for 18 km from Refugio El Pilar to Los Canarios.
The great thing about the trekking on La Palma is that many trails take you to small beaches on the coast where you can take a refreshing bath in the Atlantic ocean. One of those beautiful beaches is Playa de Echentive or the natural swimming pools in the north, like the Charco Azul. The deep hollow filled with seawater glitters turquoise in the sun. A wall protects the basin from the Atlantic surf. Dive in, and the hiking aches and pain are immediately gone.
La Palama is a hotspot for mountain bikers
In recent years La Palma has also developed into a hotspot for mountain bikers. You can explore more than 1000 km of incredibly varied trails. A must is the Roque-Trail, which leads from the highest peak of the island, the Roques de Los Muchados (2426 m) down to the beach of Tazacorte. On your way down, you pass several climate zones meaning you may start with snowfall, and a few hours later, you dive into the ocean at pleasant 25 degrees Celcius.
Take advantage of La Palma’s diverse accommodation opportunities
If you prefer to stay in an all-inclusive hotel, then the H10 Taburiente Playa is a fantastic choice. The central location on the east coast allows day trips all over the island.
For the last night on La Palma, you can still treat yourself to something special. Since this year, it is possible to stay overnight in the lighthouse Punta Imperatore. The company Floatel was able to rent the 152-year-old tower from the state and transform it into a beautiful hotel after three years of reconstruction work.
Spectacular is the infinity pool and the 34 m high viewing platform. Each of the three suites has a kitchen. If you don’t want to prepare your own meals, you can order delicious local food such as Queso de Cabra, a mild sheep’s cheese.
La Palma is an excellent place for foodies
Simplicity and local cuisine are also at the center of the island’s typical kioscos. The small local bars are usually close to a beach and offer freshly caught fish. Here artisans, office workers, and tourists sit together on simple wooden barrels and eat what went into the net of the fishermen in the early morning. If the season allows it, Lapas are a must. They are considered a delicacy and are called oysters of the Canary Islands, although they are not shells but snails.
You can also experience authentic cuisine on one of the many weekly farmer’s markets. A good example is the market in Mazo. Here you can find tapas of all kinds and hearty bocadillos, sandwiches which the Palmeros eat mainly for breakfast. Here you can also have a mojito prepared with the island’s own rum like that of the brand Aldea. The reason why you won’t find a mojito with the usual white rum from Cuba is that all offered products on this market must come from La Palma.
If you like to taste local delicacies in a restaurant, we recommend the restaurant El Sitio. It is located in the middle of banana plantations near Tazacorte. The dining room has been decorated with antiques from the last centuries. You can enjoy the somewhat fancy tapas creations like Canarian banana cream with coconut and coriander under low-hanging chandeliers and in the company of old ladies staring with a stern gaze from gold-framed paintings hanging on the wall.
La Palma is one of the world’s #1 spots for stargazing
But La Palma offers another highlight. Thanks to its pure atmosphere without disturbing light effects, the island is regarded worldwide as an excellent place for stargazing. The Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos is the most important observatory in the northern hemisphere.
But there are many suitable places on the island for a fantastic view of the starry sky. Almost every municipality has chosen a point from which you can see the night sky particularly well with the naked eye. Or you can join a guided tour like one offered by Ad Astra La Palma, where astronomers use their telescopes to make planets and the Milky Way even more visible.
On such a warm night with the Milky Way in view and nothing but darkness around us, our clocks indeed tick a little slower.