The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has certainly had a profound impact on the travel industry in a way that has never been experienced before. With travel professionals seeing a sudden downturn in people exploring the world, now is perhaps a time to re-evaluate what travellers may be looking to experience when holidays can, once again, be placed on people’s agendas. With individuals and families having to spend so much time confined to their homes, getting back to nature will be a welcome opportunity to see somewhere new when travel becomes safe for everyone.
One such year-round destination would be the Spanish island of La Pama in the Canary Islands. The northernmost of the islands, La Palma has been declared as a World
Biosphere and Starlight Reserve. The island’s nickname is la isla bonita – the pretty island – and is certainly justified once you see its …
· Outstanding natural beauty
· Fantastic hiking paths
· Unique starry skies
· Black sand beaches and small coves
· Wonderful traditional cuisine and wines
What can you expect whilst you are there? We’ve put together just a few of the highlights you can experience whilst on you La Palma holiday.
Take full advantage of the huge network of walking routes (Senderos) available on this hikers paradise island.
With hiking being one of the major attractions for tourists to the island, the 1,000km (approximately) of footpaths that have been fully signposted by the European Ramblers Association. You will find trails leading to every corner, enabling you to take in the huge variety of Canary pine trees, laurel forests, and coastlines. As an example, there are two long distance routes (GR routes), 20 one-day routes (PR routes), and numerous local routes that are shorter than 10km (SL routes). In fact, there are trails to suit all levels of fitness, from the beginner to the more experienced.
Probably the most famous is the Ruta de los Volcanes which is a tough 6 hour hike along an active volcanic ridge ending at the coast at Faro de Fuencaliente.
Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos
With some of the clearest skies in the northern hemisphere, the island of La Palma has strict laws to protect it against light pollution. This is why La Palma is home to one of the largest single optical telescopes in the world – the 10 meter Great Canarian Telescope. This is located in the Observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos on the highest point of the island. The Observatory can be visited every day but bear in mind that you can only enter the Observatory itself on two days in July and August.
Mirador de la Cumbrecita
Take time out to visit this Mirador (viewpoint) to experience the wonderful views from the southern ridge of the Taburiente crater which is approximately 6.5 km wide. This is also the starting point for many hiking trails.
Caldera de Taburiente
This is La Palma’s national park, one of the most popular places for people to visit, and certainly not to be missed. The best part is possibly the Barranco de las Angustias which is an 8km long, horseshoe shaped area, with stunning scenery including deep ravines, cascading waterfalls, rock carvings, jagged cliffs, and archaeological sites left by the original inhabitants of the island.
Beaches and natural pools
There are many black sand beaches around the island that are safe for swimming, and ideal for sunbathing. You can also experience swimming in one of the natural seawater pools.
The pools are natural formations where the sea water enters without human intervention. You will find steps to enable access, and a wonderful way of swimming in the sea water whilst being protected from any currents or waves. If you’re not sure when you want to travel again, don’t be too concerned as during both the winter and summer months you are able to take a dip in the sea due to the excellent year-round temperatures. Be aware though as the Atlantic Ocean can have currents and waves, so be sure you are swimming with safety in mind.
Walking around La Palma, you will see different types of architecture. From its churches, central courtyards, and wooden balconies, you’ll feel the history surrounding you. If you’re in the capital of the island – Santa Cruz – take a walk along Calle Real. Here you’ll find a cobbled street and some traditional wooden balconied houses. An ideal location for a picture-perfect Instagram snap.
One of La Palma’s traditional crafts is the art of cigar. Palmeran cigars are famous for their quality and aroma. Cigar making was introduced to the island in the 1950s and the pick of the crops are harvested in various regions around the island.
Visit the Museo del Puro (cigar museum) where you can watch the skilful art for yourself and even ask questions of the artesans. You’ll learn more about this art, from cultivation through to the end product. Signage and videos are in English, Spanish and German and with the entry of approximately 3 euros per person, this makes a great day out. Visit the museum Tuesday – Saturday between the hours of 10:00-13:00.
Stay for a while and visit the restaurant located next door – a place visited by the locals as well. You can also wander the market stalls at weekends selling fruit, vegetable and local produce including cheeses, prickly pears, fresh sugar cane and of course La Palma bananas.
Probably the best known winery is Teneguia Winery (Bodegas Teneguia). This winery has been making wines for over 60 years including white, rose and red. Located in the south of the island of La Palma, in Fuencaliente, the grapes are harvested from the organic soil. You can visit here and take a guided tour of the winery to learn more about wine production, vine growing, and bottling. End your visit with a meal in the restaurant and in the shop where you may want to purchase a bottle of local wine.
At the moment, travelling will of course be the last thought on your mind and you unfortunately need to be content at being an armchair traveller. However, once the COVID-19 outbreak comes to an end and travel restrictions are lifted, perhaps you can travel with us to the unspoiled island of La Palma. We trust you all take care during these difficult times.
Gail Hewitt is Owner and Director of Corona Holidays. Corona Holidays are specialists in tailor-made holidays to the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, and European city breaks.