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La Palma auf den Kanarischen Inseln, Bild: Nikiforov Alexander / shutterstock

La Palma – relaxed silence and pure nature

San Miguel de la Palma, or La Palma for short, is the westernmost of the Canary Islands and the little sister of Tenerife. Volcanoes, pine forests and rugged rocky coasts contrast with the deep blue of the Atlantic water, which is particularly clear here. The lush subtropical vegetation gives the island its nicknames “Isla verde” and “Isla bonita”, i.e. the green and the beautiful island. It is therefore mainly visited by hikers and outdoor activists or by people who appreciate the silence in nature.

The volcanoes

La Palma is a young island, by geological standards, and hot fumaroles are still steaming at its southern tip. The last eruption for the time being gave birth to the Teneguia volcano in 1971 under spectacular fountains of glowing lava. In the meantime, vines thrive on its barren, dark slopes, allowing the “Listan blanco”, an excellent grape variety, to ripen.

Further north, the volcanic chain of the “Cumbre vieja” divides the island into a rather dry western and an eastern half, where the trade wind clouds rain down and lush vegetation sprouts.

The northern part of the island is dominated by a huge crater, the “Caldera”, formed millions of years ago in a huge explosion. The highest point of the crater rim at 2,426 meters is called “Roque de los muchachos”. A very special place, because here, above the cloud cover, the air is extremely clear. For this reason, European astronomers have built more than a dozen observatories around the “Roque”. They offer the visitor an alien panorama, he feels transported into a bizarre fantasy world, between lonely nature and futuristic buildings.

What can visitors expect?

La Palma, Canary Islands
Image: Tamara Kulikova / shutterstock

In contrast to the larger Canary Islands, La Palma was spared from mass tourism. Hotels are rather rare, but you can find small guesthouses spread over the island. Several operators offer direct flights to La Palma, but there are also several daily flights to the main islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. From the airport, you can quickly reach the beach of Los Cancajos with its island-typical black volcanic sand. The capital Santa Cruz is also nearby, where you can sniff the flair of the typical Spanish churches, buildings and alleys. To reach the west, you drive over the mountains and through a long tunnel. There, the weather is mostly sunny, and near Puerto Naos you can find beaches, even with light sand. There is also a small tourist center with a few hotels. The underwater world that is still intact here can also be explored. But no matter where you stay, a rental car is recommended to explore the island. Everywhere there are pretty, picturesque villages with their festivals and many cultural events, which are still organized here for the locals and not for tourists. Nevertheless, strangers are always welcome.

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La Palma – An El Dorado for hikers

The sea around La Palma is a pleasant addition for the holidaymaker, but here the mountains and forests play the main role. La Palma is the island of hikers, for whom a well-developed network of paths offers orientation and safety. The paths are steep at times and the views breathtaking.

La Palma Mountains
Image: Eric Gevaert / shutterstock

To the northeast is the “Barranco” of Los Tilos, one of the many gorges that the streams have carved into the volcanic rock everywhere. Here, the trade wind clouds particularly like to rain down, and so the hiker will find lush green vegetation with man-sized ferns under the canopy of tall trees. After the change, a refreshing swim in the natural seawater pools of “Charco Azul” is recommended.

A spectacular and longer hiking tour goes over the Cumbre Vieja from the pass road to the southern tip to the volcanoes Teneguia and San Andres. The place is now called “Los Canarios”, but the old name “Fuencaliente” is still in use. There you can visit a traditional saltworks, where sea salt is still extracted today and the coveted delicacy “Fleur de Sal”.

Two other hikes lead into the huge forested crater of the caldera or at the very top of the ridge around it.

Specialties of Palmerian cuisine

On La Palma you will find the typical, hearty Canarian cuisine with fish and seafood or grilled meat and rustic salad. As a starter, there are usually “garbanzas”, a stew made from chickpeas. “Papas arrugadas” are delicious local potatoes that are served with a salt crust after cooking. It is eaten as well. The “Queso asado” comes especially from La Palma: fried goat’s cheese, garnished with “Mojo”, a sauce that is served either red, i.e. spicy, or green with herbs. For dessert, there are fruits or “flan casero”, a homemade caramel pudding. You should definitely try “Bienmesabe”, a delicious calorie bomb made from almonds and honey. Translated, this means “it tastes good to me”.

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A very special destination

Visitors will not miss anything on La Palma of what travellers expect from a holiday in the Canary Islands. But he will find some things that you have to look for on the other islands in this quality. It is above all the originality of nature, hardly touched by the modern world, the impressive rugged volcanoes, which you can still see the elemental force of their formation, but which today radiate silence and loneliness. They are the old houses, surrounded by colorful and fragrant flowers, fruit trees and vines. It is also the small and winding country roads where you will encounter only a few cars. And it is the people who convey peace and serenity. A dream world for all those who like to dream and who want to discover for themselves. La Palma offers such visitors an experience that will have a long lasting effect.