La Palma

santa-cruz-de-la-palma-canary-islands
Santa Cruz de La Palma – Canary Islands

La Palma is one of the smallest and prettiest of the Canary Islands, with around 86,000 inhabitants, covering an area of 708.32 km2 (273.48 sq. mi.), is in its entirety a biosphere reserve. It shows no recent signs of volcanic activity, even though the volcano Teneguía entered into eruption last in 1971. In addition, it is the second-highest island of the Canaries, with the Roque de los Muchachos 2,423 metres (7,949 ft) as highest point. Santa Cruz de La Palma (known to those on the island as simply “Santa Cruz”) is its capital.

How to Get There

La Palma has one major port (Santa Cruz de la Palma), a second small port (Tazacorte) and Santa Cruz de La Palma international airport.

There is a regular ferry connection to Tenerife and freight-only ferries to the other islands, to Cadiz in mainland Spain and the African coast. The island is also visited by the major cruise lines from Spain and the rest of Europe.

There are local direct flights to Tenerife, Gran Canaria and El Hierro. There are flights with Iberia and Binter to/from several airports in mainland Spain including Madrid and Barcelona, Paris, Madeira and Milan.

There are charter flights from the UK (Manchester), Belgium, Germany, Holland and mainland Spain.

Getting Around

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Quaint street in Santa Cruz de La Palma

La Palma has a road network of some 1,200 kms (746 miles). All the main roads are asphalted and in good condition, although there are many sharp bends, some very narrow. In order to reach some small hamlets in the north of the island it is necessary to travel on dirt tracks. A good paved road approximately 180 km (112 miles) circumscribes the island. Several bus routes serve the main towns and villages on the island although the best option is to rent a car to access and fully appreciate the island’s natural beauty.

There is a road that runs from Los Llanos de Aridane to the capital city of the island Santa Cruz de La Palma. This road is a two-lane motorway that goes right through the top of the mountain. The older tunnel is shorter (1,100 m. (3,609 ft)) and higher than the newer tunnel (2,880 m. (9,449 ft). Often, when traveling from one side of the mountain to the other it is common to enter one side in complete clouds (the east side) and come out on the sunny side (western side), caused by the clouds not being able to cross the mountains.

Along the northeast coast, you’ll find masses of intricately terraced crops (especially bananas) interlaced amongst the small towns and villages.

Things to Do & Places to Visit

Observatory

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Observatory at Roque los Muchachos – La Palma

The island, known as ‘La Isla Bonita’ (the pretty island), is home to almost intact natural resources with beautiful landscapes and clear skies, reason alone for stargazing from the astronomic telescope observation platform at Roque de los Muchahchos, one of the most important observatories in the northern hemisphere – along with Hawaii, and which provides accommodation for scientific and technical staff linked to the Observatory.

Caldera de Taburiente National Park

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Caldera de Taburiente National Park – La Palma

Photograph reproduced under Common Attribution Share Alike License.

As with all the islands within the Canaries, National Parks tend to dominate the scenery and La Palma is no exception. The island originally formed as a seamount through submarine volcanic activity. La Palma is currently the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands and was formed three to four million years ago. Its base lies almost 4,000 m. (13,123 ft) below sea level and reaches a height of 2,426 m. (7,959 ft) above sea level. About a half a million years ago, the volcano, Taburiente, collapsed with a giant landslide, forming a crater, the Caldera de Taburiente. The caldera is about 10 km across and consists mainly of canary pine (a species of tree that only grows in the Canaries), and in places the walls tower 2000 m. over the caldera floor. The highest point is the Roque de los Muchachos on the northern wall, at 2,426 m. altitude, which can be reached by road.

Since the Spanish occupation, there have been various eruptions over the last five hundred years, the most recent in 1971.

There are many organised trips and walks that you can take to explore the La Ruta del los Volcanes (the route of the volcanoes), offering fabulous scenic views. Alternatively, you can hire a personal guide from travel agencies on the island to show you the intricate routes, pathways and tunnels ready to explore.

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Clouds in Caldera de Taburiente National Park – La Palma

Photograph reproduced under Common Attribution Share Alike License.

If you’re looking for a bird’s eye view, you can take a course and rent a paraglider from the Palmaclub Paragliding School. They take you in 4-wheel-drive up into the mountains, and then a 10 minute hike to reach the launch site. The Campanarios launch is situated at 940 m. above the village of Jedey in a pine forest beside a volcano. The flight is over the Jedey volcano down to the beach of Puerto Naos.

Beaches

La Palma has a range of small and secluded coved beaches, virtually deserted and ideal for getting away from the crowds. The longest are those of Puerto Naos and Charco Verde in Los Llanos; The Guirres, or Volcano in Tazacorte; Zamora, in Fuencaliente; Cancajos Brena Baja, and Nogales in Puntallana.

Accommodation

There are tourist hotels and apartments in both Santa Cruz and Los Llanos, the two main towns’ on the islands. Also in Los Cancajos and Puerto Naos (the two main beach locations), plus Barlovento in the north and Los Canarios in the south.

There is a wide variety of country cottages and B&B-type accommodation in most parts of the island. Camping is allowed but only in designated areas where a permit is required first.

Tourist Office – La Palma

Punta de la Arena, 38712, La Palma, Canary Islands. Spain. Tel: (+34) 922 18 13 54. Email: oitloscancajos@lapalmacit.com. Official Web.

Video – La Palma – The Energy Awaiting You

Portions of this page are modifications based on work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License, in particular, Wikipedia.


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