La Palma is one of the most beautiful and peaceful islands I have ever seen. A small piece of volcanic rock, bordered by black stones and dark sands, decorated with green pinewoods and overtopped by a breathtaking mountain chain from where you have a spectacular view on
the upside of white, fluffy Atlantic clouds is worth a trip you won't forget.
Situated in the Atlantic ocean on the same latitude as the Sahara, Florida and Delhi in India, La Palma is one of seven islands called the Canary Islands. Although Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife and even Gomera are well-known in Western Europe, La Palma and its 'little sister' Hiero are lying off the beaten track of international tourism and are therefore in many ways still a very good place to go.
I strongly recommend to anyone who needs to forget about the stress of 'real life' to go to La Palma. Rent one of the little houses on the coast, with a view to the sea (nearly every house has it, it's really a small island) and pass your afternoons in a chair on the terrace, reading a book or having a conversation with friends, drinking a glass of the local wine and just feeling in harmony with the whole world. If you go there on your own, never mind: the neighbours will make friends as soon as you unfold your towel. The Palmeros are very friendly and hospitable, open-hearted people. If you should become bored, rent a car or motorbike and stroll around the island. You can do this also by bicycle (only recommended for the sportier ones) or walk around (it is not SO small, anyway). Here are some favourite activities and places to go on La Palma:
Observatory El Roque de los Muchachos
I always imagined that on the surface of the moon, it looks like this place. At least if on the surface of the moon there was bright sunlight, blue skies with white clouds and a little ground vegetation. And, of course, if there were some kind of human space stations on the moon. O.k., maybe it doesn't really look like the surface of the moon, but, with a little effort, the surface of the moon could look like the observatory on the Roque de los Muchachos, and, if you ask me, it would be a remarkable
amelioration on behalf of the moon.
Fuencaliente Beach/ Lighthouse (Faro de Fuencaliente)
There’s simply no better place to go. Except if you are in search of pulsating parties and loud-speaking people, than go to Mallorca or Ibiza. But if you want a nice beach with only a few people, some great waves and a good but not expensive restaurant in a short distance plus
sunny weather nearly all the time, than go to Fuencaliente Beach. Again, if you are bored, there are two volcanoes to see and wander around. Attention: You might find some tourists on top of the volcano but as it's always a little stormy there, they will not stay long. Don't go to near to the volcano’s top and don’t follow the official road signs if you don't want your touristy background to be detected: It’s one of the few places on La Palma where they ask an unreasonable price from tourists just to let them walk around a little and look at all the miracles of mother nature. You can have a cup of coffee at the visitors centre, but it costs twice as much as you seriously want to pay.
Some recommended destinations on La Palma (this is not a complete list; more information is yet to come):
- The Laurelwoods of Los Tilos – UNESCO Biosphere reserve
- The 'swimming pools of Charco Azul' – made by Nature
- Santa Cruz de la Palma – the dozy but charming capital of the island
- La Caldera de Taburiente – impressing natural preserve
All Restaurants where you don't find English or German translations in the menu can be recommended. Nevertheless, there are some – especially on the eastern coast - I prefer most:
'Las Casas del Remo'; Faro de Fuencaliente; 'Goyo', (near the airport); 'La Cabana', Belmaco (best fish dishes, freshly fished by the innkeeper himself)
The best beaches can only be found by driving around the coastline, holding your eyes open for small parking spaces, where local cars are waiting for their owners to come back from swimming. The Palmeros rarely go swimming on the official beaches, because they know the
better places. Ask them. Go search for it yourself, it can be fun, even if you have to climb over some rocks and walk one or two kilometres away from your car. You will find a small but perfect bay and have the feeling that it's your own discovery. 'Official' tourist beaches are:
Los Cancajos and Santa Cruz (on the right side outside the city). These beaches are easy to reach, but very near to the harbour, so don’t be amazed by the fact that you might find enough oily brown bits in the water to let Mr. Beuys think of creating a new and extraordinary piece of art; Playa Tazacorte; Puerto Naos (This one is the real tourist strand. But as everything is small on La Palma, Playa Puerto Naos is too and will never be as crowded as, for example, the Spanish Mediterranean Coast).
Never ever throw the paper in the toilet. There are little trash cans for this.
The trash will be collected on Tuesday and Friday. Never mind if you see other people put there trash cans on the street any other day of the week; you have time to get yours out until Tuesday or Friday morning. It's a local sport to collect your plastic bags with trash on the street in front of the house to see who has the biggest deal. But don't join in the game as a tourist, they don't like outsiders.
There is none of this kind of thing. At an average temperature around 25° Celsius you simply don't need it.
Avoid long distance calls. It’s much cheaper to call from a foreign number to La Palma than to call from La Palma to any number anywhere else in the world. Make them call you back, if you urgently need to talk to some people in other countries. Or go to an internet café and
make contact via e-mail.
There's lots of: Wines. Goat cheese. More wines. Bananas. Cigars. Gofio. Bienmesabe. Mojos. Papas arrugadas. Puchero. Parrotfish. Pinehoney.
(to be continued)