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Things to do in La Palma
10 moments you could live in La Palma

Things to do in La Palma

La Palma is a lost island paradise, located in the Atlantic Ocean off the Western African coasts. It is part of the Canary Islands group, which is known for being a popular destination with big resorts and crowded beaches. Being less accessible, La Palma is considered as the quieter one out of the 7 islands. Also called the “Isla Bonita”, the entire island is since 2002 a Unesco biosphere reserve. Even with its small size La Palma offers various types of landscapes and is often compared as a little continent itself. This top 10 list will help to guide you into the best spots the island offers but, of course, there are many others activities to be discovered. Enjoy!

1. Dip into Charco Azul’s natural pools

Charco Azul La Palma

Charco Azul natural pools

Well, who hasn’t dreamt of swimming in a blue lagoon right next to a turbulent sea? In Charco Azul, the dream comes true. With its 2 natural pools, you can chill in the water while looking at the ocean hitting the rocks right next to you and be totally safe. Something that shouldn’t be missed just 30 minutes up north from the capital, Santa Cruz.

2. Challenge yourself on “La Ruta de Los Volcanes”

La Palma Ruta de los Volcanes

Ruta de Los Volcanes

If walking on a moon type terrain above the clouds is your thing, then you will love “La Ruta de Los Volcanes”. This hike is far from being easy but is for sure a breathtaking experience. It is part of the GR 131 that crosses the island. With a length of approximately 20 km, “La Ruta de Los Volcanes” starts in “El Pilar” in the centre and follows a ridge of no less than 15 ancient volcanoes down to the extreme South, finishing at the Salinas de Fuetecaliente where the earth, air and water join forces to form the salt fields.

Extra tip: Most of the time you’ll find no shade and therefore make sure you bring enough water for this 7hrs trek.

3. Stroll in the old streets of Santa Cruz

Balconies Santa cruz

Balcones de la avenida Maritima

Santa Cruz is the capital city of La Palma. A beautiful town to let yourself get lost in the maze of many little streets. It has some great architectural pieces everywhere. It is not rare to discover a square after passing a street corner. Some of the best restaurants and design shops are as well located in Santa Cruz. One of the highlights of the city is the street of the Balcones, where you’ll be able to admire wooden balconies that are over 100 years old. If you are coming with the ferry from Tenerife, Santa Cruz is a good place to start your trip in La Palma.

4. Go for the ultimate stargazing experience

Stargazing La Palma

Stargazing in La Palma

As soon as the sun disappears behind the horizon, “Astro La Palma” Ana (the Astrophysicist) and her team bring some light into your brain by taking you up to the top of the island for a stargazing experience that you’ll never forget. La Palma offers one of the best skies in the world to observe the constellations and other beauties of the space. This is also one of the reasons the island is protected and the light pollution is kept to the minimum. Equipped with a laser and some telescopes, Ana makes sure that you understand how small we are and it works pretty well. This is a very entertaining activity out of the beaten path and it is highly recommended.

Extra tip: Bring a warm jacket not to freeze!

5. Enter the lush forest of Los Tilos

Los Tilos

Los Tilos waterfall

While the South of the island is dry the North is filled with green rain forests where water flows profusely. If you are running out of time or just not in the mood of spending your day in the lush nature, the Los Tilos waterfall is easily accessible from the town of Los Sauces. But if you are up to go deeper, then you shouldn’t hesitate to embark on the PR LP 6 from Casa del Monte down to Los Tilos. This 14km hike will bring you into tunnels along water canals that serve to irrigate the plantations.

Extra tip: Bring a head torch

6. Enjoy sunbathing on a black sand beach

Black beach Tazacorte

Black sand beach in Puerto de Tazacorte

In case you didn’t know, La Palma exists because of the volcanic activity, for this reason, its beaches are made out of black sand and this is pretty cool. Next to Tazacorte can be found some of the best black sandy beaches. Following the collapse of a cliff some years ago was found a new beach named  Playa Nueva which is good for surfing.

Extra tip: There is a secret beach in Tazacorte following the path into the banana plantations. If you find this wall you are on the right track ;)

7. Try delicious traditional tapas

La Palma food

Grilled Octopus

There is no good trip without good food! Fortunately, La Palma’s chefs know what to do to delight your taste buds. Tapas are a tradition in Spain. It may be cold or hot. In some places, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine. You’d usually order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. “Cinnamon Bar” in Santa Cruz convinced many travellers and locals with its colourful menu while in Tazacorte, on the other side “La Tasquita” masters the tapas in its traditional way.

8. Step into the Caldera de Taburiente

La Palma Taburiente

Mirador de las Chozas

The Caldera de Taburiente NP is the ideal playground for all nature lovers and hikers. Some say “If you haven’t seen the Caldera you never been to La Palma”.  It actually makes sense as this huge crater made of extreme beauty is the heart of the island. There are many ways to discover it…From its highest point in “Roque de Los Muchachos” rising at 2423m or stepping in at its base meeting with colourful waterfalls. You could also approach the edge of the crater from the superb viewpoint at La Cumbrecita.

9. Swim in the volcanic cove of Los Cancajos

Los Cancajos

Volcanic cove in Los Cancajos

Los Cancajos is not a place to spend a lot of time due to its important tourist lodging centre but it is worth to see the picturesque volcanic beaches and of course swim there. There is, as well, a nice promenade alongside some impressive sharp lava rocks. In case you’d be up for a longer walk you can start from the PR LP 18.1 in Brena Baja through little village roads and even see some Dragon trees on the way.

10. Stay in Tazacorte banana plantations

Tazacorte

Banana plantations in Tazacorte

A fantastic tropical feeling, that is what the banana plantations guarantee! Under the sun of Tazacorte or even at night coming back from the beach or the restaurant, it is for sure a very pleasant and special moment. The network is endless, encountering some houses here and there. If you are lucky enough to stay in one of them you’ll get to know that watching the sunset from the terrace is a must!

Extra tip: Find it on Airbnb

Other activities near Tazacorte: Whale watching / Pirate Caves

We hope this guide convinced you to visit La Palma. If you have other great recommendations feel free to share with us in the comment section. Happy travel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 moments you could live in Madeira
10 moments you could live in Madeira

 

Madeira, you’ve certainly heard the name before but what do you really know about the island? Probably not much unless you have been there. This paradise is somewhere lost in the Atlantic ocean 1000 km away from Lisbon which has daily flights. Madeira offers a lot for nature lovers with breathtaking and diverse landscapes and more. If you like hiking or surfing, this island is for you.

 

1. Visit Monte tropical garden aloft of Funchal

Garden Madeira

This is one of the unmissable things to visit when in Funchal. Considered as one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the world, the Monte palace tropical garden allows to its visitors to wander in an extraordinary lush tropical forest with its huge green ferns as well the oriental garden. Among many other species, 700 different types of orchids can be found in the garden. The permanent African art exhibition is as well worth to check. Don’t hesitate and go explore.

2. Explore the dramatic landscapes of the North coast

Madeira North coast

Only one hour drive from Funchal you can discover the unspoiled North coast of Madeira where the mountains fall sheer into the sea. Every road corner will make your jaw drop from “Porto da Cruz” to “Ponta Delgada” on the way you could stop for some rhum tasting in one of the old rhumeries and eat some fresh fish while looking at the ocean. Strongly recommended.

3. Walk a Levada

Levada Madeira

The Levadas are the veins of Madeira that bring the water from the green Western part to the drier part in the South of the island. Built from the 16th century these mini-canals are originally made to supply the agriculture. There is more than 2000 km of levadas and they provide a remarkable network of walking paths. Sometimes it can be dangerous with very narrow sections along cliffs but most of them are safe to go on. This is a unique experience! You will encounter waterfalls and tunnels along the way. Some of the walks like the “Levada do Rei” are passing through the Laurasilva forest, which is known the largest surviving area of laurels in the world. Going to Madeira without walking a levada would be a shame. Here is a great site listing all of them with descriptions and difficulty levels

4. Try some Poncha then try it again

Poncha Madeira

You’ve been spending the day hiking on the levadas…Time to treat yourself with the local weapon. It’s Poncha time! Poncha is a traditional alcoholic drink from the island made from sugar cane juice. Honey, sugar, lemon rind and with different fruit juices according to the version of Poncha. A great place to try it is the “Revolucion Bar” located in the old town of Funchal. Great to meet up with the locals in a nice atmosphere, plus they’re friendly and play good music.

5. Dare stepping on the glass platform 580m above the sea

 Madeira Cabo Girao

The cliffs of Cabo Girao are some of the highest in Europe, with a near vertical drop. Amazing views over the sea and the vineyards at its bottom. Stepping on the glass platform will challenge you for sure but it is worth to try. A great stop over on your way to the magical South coast of the island.

6. Try the local products in the “Old Market” of Funchal

Old market Funchal Madeira

Start your day to walk around Funchal by going to the old market. A place that overflows colour, aroma, sound and tradition. The first floor is dedicated to the fruits and spices. You’ll discover exotic fruits you probably never imagined it exists like the Loquat. Walking further down, don’t miss the part where the fish are. You could even bring some of them back to where you stay and cook it in the local way.

7. Watch the sunset in Paul Do Mar

Paul Do Mar sunset Madeira

Away from the main attractions, almost at the edge of the South coast lay the villages of “Jardim” and “Paul Do Mar“. Here, the time has stopped. Ideal for sunset lovers, this area is known for its good weather conditions which differs from the rest of the island. It barely rains here all year round. Surfers love going to “Paul Do Mar” as it has great waves for it. If you like the laid back life style this place is for you. The Maktub guesthouse in Jardim is great to connect with other travellers in a very beautiful and chill environment. The friendly family that runs the business also owns the Maktub reggae bar in “Paul do Mar” and there is no better place to watch the sunset sipping one of their world acclaimed cocktail the “Mojito” listening to good reggae music on the terrace. Some great walks can be found as well nearby which reveal the volcanic past of the island. Well, in fact this is the perfect mix!

8. Have an “Arroz de Marisco”

Arroz de Marisco Madeira

Grab a bunch of new friends you’ve made or go for a romantic dinner. This traditional recipe is a signature of Madeiran seafood and rice dish combining mussels, prawns and clams.

9. Hike along the cliffs of the Eastern Peninsula

Peninsula Madeira

On the extreme Eastern part of the island, there is a peninsula which has a very different type of landscape than on the rest of the island. Another testimony of the diversity that can be found on Madeira. You won’t find any tree there but breathtaking sceneries that even looks like some parts of Ireland. The road stops in Ponta de São Lourenço where the trail starts. This 7km walk (return) is worth the effort. On the way back have a look at the village of Canical which is a very pleasant and authentic fisherman place.

10. Enjoy a cable car ride over Funchal and slide down back to town

Cable car Funchal

For those who are not interested to walk all the way up to admire the view from the top of Funchal, you can use the cable cars. A great way to discover the city and surroundings. In some portions, there are some significant drops, so it is not advised if you are sensitive to vertigo. Anyway the experience is really fun! The last stop is the Monte Tropical garden, so don’t hesitate to combine with the visit. To go down and for the most adventurous you can also use the “Monte sledge” made of basketwork. This toboggan ride is an unmissable experience.

Extra. Pico Ruivo the roof of Madeira

For fit people only

Pico Ruivo Madeira

1861m above sea level the Pico Ruivo is the highest point on the island. This is a challenging walk to get there. Some sections are literally about living on the edge with vertical drops on both sides. In order to enjoy and complete the ascent you need to be fit. Though, you don’t need any professional climbing gear just good walking shoes will do but you’ll have to stay focus to avoid troubles. It is not rare to see snow here and there on the path during winter. For the adrenaline seekers only…great reward on the top on a clear day.