The island of La Palma with its breathtaking landscapes, imposing volcanoes, dense forests and its incomparable starry sky, together with the island of El Hierro, is one of the most western islands of the Canary archipelago. Like every island in this archipelago, La Palma owes its existence to volcanic activity, but is one of the youngest of the seven islands, dating back some 1.7 million years. The volcanic origin of La Palma is still clearly recognizable today, especially the southern part of the island with the volcano Teneguía, last erupted in 1971, offers interesting insights into the geological past.
The year-round mild climate with average temperatures between 18 and 27 degrees Celsius is primarily determined by the north east trade wind. This weather phenomenon is responsible for the fact that on the island La Palma pleasantly subtropical climate prevails and by the humidity carried along in the trade wind clouds also a rich vegetation thrives.
Combined with the unique geological structure of the island, this results in a variety of vegetation zones that are rarely found in such a small area of the world.
In 1983 the “Isla Bonita”, as La Palma is also called, was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Another special feature of La Palma is the unique starry sky. Due to its location in the Atlantic Ocean, the comparatively sparse population and the highest elevation, the 2426 metre high Roque de los Muchachos, the island was chosen as the location for one of the most modern and largest observatories in the world.
The official population of the island is approximately 80,000 people spread over a total area of about 708 square kilometres. Traditional festivals such as the Bajada de la Virgen or the Los Indianos carnival, famous far beyond the island’s borders, bear witness to the zest for life of the Palmeros. Not only the geographical location, but also the numerous immigrants from Central and South America show a variety of Hispanic influences in island life, cultural events and also in the cuisine.
Nature & OutdoorThe “Roque de los Muchachos,” La Palma’s highest point, is 2.426m high. In relation to the island’s area - just 702km² - there is no higher point anywhere else in the world. The way to the peak traverses the most diverse climatic zones, from subtropical to alpine. From the top, the view stretches to Gran Canaria, when the weather is clear.
The “El Time” Mirador above Los Llanos, offers a fascinating vista over the Aridane Valley. There’s also a café and restaurant. Order a “Café Barraquito” and enjoy the view!
La Palma is rich with gorgeous natural scenery. One of the most well-known is the Caldera de Taburiente national park. It’s also the site of one of the most well-known hikes on La Palma. For those for whom hiking holds little appeal: The “La Cumbrecita” viewing area, which leads from the visitor centre in El Paso (be advised: Cumbrecita is only accessible by permission! Obtain it at the visitor’s centre) over a paved path to the summit is the spot for the best view of the Caldera de Taburiente.
The most popular swimming hole, “Charco Azul,” beneath Los Sauces on the island’s northwest, beckons swimmers into a truly welcoming scene.
The most visited beach on La Palma is found in Puerto Naos with a handsomely situated promenade. The idyllic sandy beaches of “Charco Verde,” about 3km south of Puerto Naos, is one of the most popular on the island.
The “Salinas de Fuencaliente,” on La Palma’s southern tip, grants visitors an enlightening glimpse into the sea-salt extraction process with an array of compelling educational tidbits.
Culture & SportsWith respect to culture, La Palma is certainly of interest, whether at the museum in Santa Cruz de La Palma, the specialized archaeological museum in Los Llanos, the wine museum in Las Manchas, or the silk museum in El Paso. Every one of these is worth a detour!
La Palma is a fairy-tale island for hiking, one that’ll make any hiker’s heart sing. One of the loveliest trails is the “Ruta de los Volcánes,” which travels the edge of the Cumbre volcanic mountain, with spectacular views over the southern section of the island and the neighbouring islands of Teneriffa, La Gomera, and El Hierro. This is a hike for fair weather, since, when the clouds gather or the fog settles, they veil the view completely.
The route begins at the El Pilar rest spot and ends 19km later, after ascending 600 and descending 1.300m, in Los Canarios. There are many hikes of all levels, across the island.
Cities & NightlifeThe capital of Santa Cruz de La Palma, alongside the largest and most populous city of Los Llanos de Adriane, offer a host of opportunities, with a palette that encompasses everything from shopping to bars, good restaurants, and dance club night life.
Markets are a great place to find fresh local products and learn a little about the locals’ commercial culture. There are weekly markets in Puntagorda, El Paso, Mazo, Santa Cruz de La Palma, or Los Llanos de Adriane.
Probably the best known festival here, the mighty Bajada de la Virgin, only takes place every 5 years. All of La Palma celebrates the island’s patron saint for a period of about two months. This truly great festival owes its origins to the drought of 1676. A celebratory procession was organized as a plea for help and involved carrying the patron saint, Benahoares, to Santa Cruz de La Palma. Success was immediate, and it started to rain.