Why go to La Palma?
This lesser-known Canary island combines colonial architecture with forests, volcanoes and beautiful beaches.
It’s not hard to see why La Palma is known as the “isla bonita”: a jumble of forests, volcanoes, waterfalls and beaches, it feels like someone cherry picked their favourite holiday sights and threw them together to create the perfect island.
The capital Santa Cruz feels more Caribbean than Spanish – a nod to its heyday as one of the most important trading routes between Europe and the Americas. Nowadays the whitewashed capital is home to churches, museums, galleries and theatres.
The city’s covered market is the ideal spot for breakfast, before a stroll along the main retail drag of Calle Real towards Plaza de Espana square. Evenings are best spent along the waterfront promenade of Avenida Maritima, packed with busy bars and restaurants.
The local economy runs on tourism and agriculture. Family-run guesthouses and B&Bs dot the island, most of them only accessible by car, which are available for hire at the airport.
Much of the island’s food is grown locally: banana plantations are scattered along the valley of Los Llanos de Aridane, while vineyards produce light, dry wines. An average menu is choc full of fresh oranges, avocados, and locally-made goat’s cheese – plus bucket loads of fresh fish.
Hikers should explore the waterfalls, forest and crater views of La Caldera de Taburiente National Park; while the Los Tilos rainforest is home to hundreds of plant species. At 32km, popular ‘Volcano Route’ is thought to be one of the world's most beautiful walks, reaching over 1,200 metres, and snorkellers will love the black sand beach of Puerto Naos. Come evening the Roque de los Muchachos observatory offers night tours and star gazing sessions, making the most of the island’s clear skies.
Whether you’re looking for quiet beaches, loads of adventure, interesting architecture or a place to escape city life, La Palma has something for everyone.