Everyone who knows La Gomera will wax lyrical about its natural and unspoiled beauty. But what is there to actually do and see on the island? Here are 10 suggestions.
Visit Garajonay National Park
Named after tragic lovers, the Garajonay National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site whose ancient rainforest covers one tenth of the island. It’s prime walking country and within its misty, sub-tropical rain forest boundaries are 20 species of trees, 18 types of ferns, over 120 varieties of plants and some seriously big spiders.
To learn more, visit the Juego de Bolas Visitors’ Centre near Las Rosas where guided walks can be arranged.
Watch a Silbo Demonstration
Walking anywhere on La Gomera involves traipsing up and down steep ravines so the Gomeros developed a unique way to communicate – by whistling. Called Silbo, it is a fully developed language and can be used to communicate across distances of up to 3000 metres – in the days before phones and computers it was very useful for letting everyone know when the tax man stepped off the ferry. Once in danger of dying out, it is now taught in schools. The Hotel Tecina in Playa Santiago regularly hold Silbo demonstrations.
The Giant Lizard of La Gomera
Lizards are commonplace on The Canary Islands but La Gomera has a species that could make mincemeat out of most, the Lagarto Gigante. The Gallotia was thought to be extinct until one was spotted in 1999. Now the 70cm long creature has been brought back from the brink thanks to the work carried out by the Centro de Recuperación in Valle Gran Rey.
The Torre del Conde
Set in a park in San Sebastián the Torre del Conde was built in 1450 by Hernán Peraza, governor of La Gomera. Whilst it was built to help defend the island from attacks from Berber, English and Dutch pirates (not always successfully which should come as no surprise when you see the size of it), some say its purpose was as much to protect Hernán, a bit of a tyrant, from the local natives. This view has some credence once you know that poor Hernán ended up being murdered in a cave by one of his disloyal subjects.
Whales and Los Órganos
A boat trip from San Sebastián, Valle Gran Rey or Playa Santiago brings two rewards. The first is getting to watch whales and dolphins at play in their natural environment. The second is that it’s the only way to see Los Órganos, 80 metre high volcanic columns that look like giant organ pipes.
The Enchanted Dam and the Chorros de Epina
Magic is afoot in the hills above Vallehermoso. The Enchanted Lake (La Encantadora) is a tranquil beauty spot whilst the Chorros de Epina are seven magical fountains whose waters when drunk can bring wealth, health and love. However, you can’t just drink from the fountains and wait for the dinero to roll in. There are set combinations depending on what you want out of life – drink from the left to right, drink from right to left, only drink evens, only drink odds all result in different outcomes. One fountain is only for witches. Get it wrong and you’ll probably turn into a pig.
Mirador César Manrique
It’s easy to overdose on views on La Gomera, but one of our favourites is a view fit for a king high above the valley of the king, Valle Gran Rey. The Mirador César Manrique boasts the typical ‘sympathetic to nature’ hallmarks of the famous Lanzarote architect’s work and offers views of the valley with its neat, narrow emerald terraces that are spellbinding. Here’s also a restaurant attached (closed Monday) so you can wine, dine and wallow in the scenery all at the same time.
Castillo del Mar
The Castillo del Mar on the coast below Vallehermoso was an ambitious cultural project hampered by political pettiness. The old embarkation warehouse was restored by German businessman Thomas Müller to its current castle-like state. It’s occasionally used for special events and is particularly Arthurian looking when lit up after dark.
Shop at the Los Telares Craft Centre
Pick up some local handicrafts at the Los Telares Artisan Centre on the main road through Hermigua. The centre, set in a lovely old traditional house also has a small ethnological museum and charming gardens that have great views over the valley.