I remember one New Year’s Eve eleven years ago when I was at a friends house in Tenerife celebrating New Year. I found myself in conversation with another English lady about the neighbouring island of La Palma and the fact that it is often to referred to as La Isla Bonita.
‘Yes,’ she commented with perhaps more enthusiasm than was strictly necessary, ‘but you can’t live there!’
Most of my answer was apparently drowned out by the rising background noise but anyway, why couldn’t you live there I wanted to know.
‘There’s no hospital for a start!’ she replied in a shocked voice, although conceding that an airport was a possibility for the future.
Eventually, I managed to get her to understand that there is indeed a hospital and in fact there is an airport already in existence. But I had a harder time convincing her that La Palma, yes sleepy La Palma, is my home.
So what else is there to know about La Palma?
How to get to La Palma
The first airport on La Palma opened in 1955 and in 1970 it moved to its current location in Mazo, by the east coast. In 2011 a new and larger airport was built and in that year it handled over 1 million passengers. From the UK there are direct flights from both Manchester and Gatwick with Thomsons. The airport code is SPC.
For ferries, the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma serves Fred Olsen, Acciona Trasmediterranea and Naviera Armas. There is a new marina at Santa Cruz and a second port/marina at Tazacorte in the west of La Palma.
Accommodation on La Palma
There are many casas rurales (the traditional Canarian cottages) dotted about the landscape which are available for rent along with apartments, hotels, pensions and even a few bed and breakfasts.
Shops on the Island
La Palma has many large supermarkets (Hiper Dino, San Martin, Trebol) and smaller Spar supermarkets all of which are open all day. There is also a covered fruit and vegetable market in both Santa Cruz and Los Llanos.
Are there beaches on La Palma?
Whilst La Palma does not have a great abundance of broad swathes of golden sands, it
does however have a good number of black sand beaches, hidden coves and sea water pools.
The main beaches are at the resorts of Los Cancajos in the east and Puerto Naos and Tazacorte in the west although there are other sandy beaches dotted around the island. There is also a new beach under construction on the waterfront of the capital of Santa Cruz.
Cars can be hired either on-line in advance or whilst on the island at the airport or in the towns. There is also an excellent bus service (even in the rural north of the island) and no bus journey costs more than 2€.
La Palma has over 1000km of marked trails through ever-changing and spectacular scenery. The main long distance trails are the GR130 Camino Real (8 days) which goes around the perimeter of the island linking hidden hamlets, gorges, towns and beaches and the GR131 El Bastón (3/4 days) which includes the Volcano Route and the Roque de Muchachos at 2426m. Other walks pass through the Laurisilva forest of Los Tilos, pine forests, lava fields and country meadows.
What is there to do?
The fun on La Palma is generally provided by the beauty and nature of the island as there are no theme parks, bowling alleys, skating rinks or disco-pubs. In no particular order, these are some of the great things to do and see:
- Roque de Muchachos – the highest point of the island at 2426m
- La Caldera – a near complete circular mountain ridge measuring 10km in diameter and 2000m deep
- La Cumbrecita – a stunning viewpoint and walk along the ridge of the Caldera
- Volcanoes – the last eruption was Teneguia in 1971
- Los Tilos – ancient forest of Laurisilva, a species from the age of Dinosaurs
- La Zarza forest and archaeological park with pre-Hispanic rock engravings
- Salt Pans of Fuencaliente (area of Scientific Interest and whose waters attract migratory birds)
- The rural north with its hidden hamlets, caves, fresh water springs and ancient dwellings with wooden roofs
- Historic capital of Santa Cruz with its flower-festooned balconies, cobbled streets and splendid mansions.
Ann lives on La Palma and is a regular blogger. For more information about the island, you can visit www.holiday-lapalma.com