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
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”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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!