In the north-western tip of the Canarian Archipelago lays the island of La Palma; with a total surface of 708 km2, it is home to one of the most significant masses of laurel forest in the Canarias, Spain’s youngest volcanic lands, gigantic cliffs, striking black sand beaches and a highly valuable sky for astronomical observation. A mini continent in itself whose unique features granted its appointment as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2002, as well as its nickname, “the beautiful island”. Without a doubt, a great alternative for a getaway.
Santa Cruz de La Palma
Santa Cruz de La Palma is the capital of the island. This serene city with around 16,000 inhabitants has managed to preserve a tranquil colonial character to it, which shows on many of the buildings in the old town. A stroll down the seaside promenade is definitely a must-do, as well as a balcony tour -balconies of all shades and types, many of which dating back to the 19th century, a reflection of the influence of period Portuguese architecture-. As for the cultural sites, the Museo Histórico Insular -devoted to the island’s history-, the churches, squares and town market are all worth visiting.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park
Caldera de Taburiente National Park is an unmissable stop. This massive hollow -one of the world’s biggest expanses of its kind- is surrounded by a range of peaks including the tallest in the island. For instance, the Roque de los Muchachos rock formation (2,426 m), Pico de la Cruz mountain (2,351 m), etc. The caldera, spanning over 8 km in diameter, is a depression dropping down over 800 m of virtually vertical walls. Inside, lush vegetation develops, showing numerous endemic species. An expansive complex of brooks, springs and waterfalls completes this beautiful landscape.
Roque de los Muchachos Observatory
On the very edge of the National Park, 2,396 metres above the sea level and neighbouring the Roque de los Muchachos rock formation, we will find this Observatory, one of the best spots on Earth for star gazing. This is due to a layer of clouds forming from 1,000 to 2,000 metres above the sea level and serving as a natural screen that blocks light pollution away from the mountain tops. It houses one of the most comprehensive telescope ranges in the world. It can be easily accessed by car, and the facilities are open to daytime visitors, provided they have booked in advance.
Cumbre Vieja Natural Park: volcanic landscape
The south of La Palma is home to the Cumbre Vieja Natural Park, the glorious revelation of the island’s volcanic nature where the contrasting black lava flows and the green pine groves make for a spectacular scenery. A North to South authorised track crosses the Park, a magnificent route known as Ruta de los Volcanes or “Volcanos Route”. This track passes by all major volcanic cones, namely that of Teneguía Volcano, emerged in 1971 and whose lava stream created on its way down to the ocean a platform outgrowing the island. A walk along this track will also offer magnificent views of La Palma and neighbouring islands.