La Palma Overview
Most water rich of all the Canary Islands, La Palma is Nature’s child. Her skies are amongst the clearest in the world; her forests are coated with scented pines and ancient laurels, and deep in her heart her mountains rise like jagged jaws around the mouth of her primeval volcanic crater.
Well deserving of its ‘Isla Bonita’ (the beautiful island) sobriquet, the island is a World Biosphere Reserve and has 35% of its surface area protected by special measures. All across its coastal face, banana production provides the mainstay of La Palma’s economy while from its sun kissed and rain touched slopes, tobacco to rival the quality of Cuba produces La Palma’s famous cigars. In the upper reaches of the fertile north and the arid south, ancient vines trace their roots back hundreds of years to their Conquistador ancestors and produce high quality, sought after wines. Head up to Roque de Los Muchachos at the island’s highest point of 2426 metres and you’ll find the world’s telescopes and cameras beaming back information about our Universe from skies whose clarity has literally to be seen to be believed.
Once the third busiest port in Spain, the island’s capital of Santa Cruz de La Palma was razed to the ground by French pirates in 1553 and had to be rebuilt, giving it a homogeneous Colonial style rarely found elsewhere in the islands. Feeling as much like downtown Havana as the Canary Islands, style looms large in its architecture, its boutiques and its pavement cafés.
Fiercely protective of their unique environment, the Palmeros have no intention of giving over any of their island’s natural beauty to the voracious appetite of tourism and few concessions are made to the needs of visitors. The island’s version of a purpose built resort is the coastal development of Los Cancajos in between the airport and Santa Cruz de La Palma where you’ll find most of its hotels and holiday apartments; a handful of restaurants and bars and a pretty beach with a calm bay for swimming.
Choose instead to immerse yourself in La Palma’s natural beauty and you’ll find superb rural accommodation dotted around the landscape from where you can discover the island’s hiking trails by day and its star billing by night.
Buzz Trips Opinion
La Palma is something of an enigma; fifth largest in size and third most populous of the archipelago, in tourism terms it gets less than 2% of Canary Islands visitors and yet it is arguably the most stunning of all the islands. Instead, La Palma is a well kept secret, known only to the thousand or so, mainly Germans, who monthly descend with their double sticks and rucksacks to enjoy some of Europe’s best hiking trails.
With direct flights now available from Manchester and Gatwick, do yourself a favour and get to know this most surprising of islands before the Canary gets out of the bag.