Smallest and most remote of the seven, main Canary Islands, El Hierro is the one that has managed to remain completely untarnished by mass tourism. Home to cryptic ancient writings; giant lizards, and wind-subjugated, wild juniper trees whose tortured and twisted limbs shine white against the infinity of the Atlantic Ocean beyond, El Hierro is as mysterious and magic today as it must have been when Ptolomy placed the Zero Meridian here and proclaimed it the ‘End of the Ancient World’.
El Hierro Overview
El Hierro’s 278km² surface area amalgamates the landscapes of each of its archipelago peers into a single, spectacular island and then trumps them with the addition of green meadows and softly rolling hills, dry stone walls and moorlands, strangely redolent of Yorkshire and the Peak District.
Expansive stark and windswept lava fields strewn with eruptive debris smother the south and west of the island, from the mineral rich waters of Pozo de la Salud to the little harbour of Restinga whose current, oceanic eruptive activity is bringing it unaccustomed world attention. By arrant contrast, the fertile north west of the island is embroidered in vineyards and almond and fruit trees while the floor of the green basin of El Golfo, created by a monumental landslide 50,000 years ago, is carpeted in the silver spikes of pineapples and the torn leaves of banana plants.
Inhospitable cliffs rise almost perpendicular to over 1000 metres, their feet bathed in cyan rock pools and their sides decorated with the bleached bones of sheep whose greed has sent them, literally, over the edge. Sandy beaches are few and far between, some of the nicest being at Timijiraque and Las Playas by the port and La Restinga in the south. But locals are rarely discouraged from spending long summer days by the sea and you’ll find stone walkways and sunbathing decking in the small and pretty resorts of Tamaduste and La Caleta in the north .
The fact that, until recently, El Hierro was in the Guiness Book of Records for having the smallest hotel in the world gives you some idea of how keen the island is on mass tourism. The handful of visitors who weekly make the three hour ferry trip or the 40 minute flight from Tenerife mainly come to walk the forest paths, dive to the extraordinary subterranean world, cycle the mountain trails and explore the volcanic tubes and caves. Those not heading to the resorts choose to stay at the spectacular, Las Playas setting of the Parador; at one of the rural hotels dotted around the island or in La Frontera in the heart of El Golfo where a nice selection of family run apartments and mainly traditional restaurants provide everything you need as a base.
Buzz Trips Opinion
Of all the Canary Islands, this is the one that most takes you by surprise. If you’re looking for sun, sand, sea and entertainment look elsewhere because what El Hierro does best is tranquilidad (peace and quiet). But if you want to discover a truly beautiful island whose presence lies far below the radar of modern tourism and whose pleasures are derived solely from its natural resources and the smiling warmth of its people, then let El Hierro wash over you.