Discovering La Palma: A 4-day Trip (Video)
One of the many great things about living in Lanzarote is the ability to easily hop on an internal flight and spend a weekend, or a short vacation, on another Canary gem. From the majestic caldera of Volcan San Antonio and the black beaches of Fuencaliente to the fresh lava fields of Cumbre Vieja. From the stargazing heaven of Roque de Los Muchachos to the luxuriant canyons of Los Tilos. La Isla Bonita has an incredible array of activities to offer.
VIDEOSTHE OTHER CANARIES
Discovering La Palma
A 4-day exploration of another Canary gem.
Trip made on July 28-31, 2023.
Disclaimer: Outdoor activities you see in our videos inherently come with dangers. Remember, we're trained athletes, and there’s a ton of experience behind each action you see. Though most of our videos show easy activities, not everything is beginner-friendly as it may seem. We strongly advise against replicating any actions seen in our videos without the appropriate training, experience, and equipment. If you decide to try anything based on our videos, it's all on you and at your own risk. We cannot be held liable for any incidents or injuries that may occur. Parents, always gauge what's right for your kids based on your own and your children’s capabilites.
Safety first, always respect and keep a healthy fear of the outdoors, and have an amazing time out there!
In the expanse of the Canary Islands lies a gem that beckons explorers with its untouched nature and stunning, powerful landscapes: La Palma, marrying the terrible beauty of active volcanoes with the wild magic of tropical vegetation. This island, rich in biodiversity and bestowed with spectacular heights, crystal waters and breathtaking views, was the destination of a "long weekend" journey with our 8 and 13 year-old daughters, and what a journey it was!
One of the many perks of living in Lanzarote is the proximity to its equally captivating neighbors. We know Gran Canaria very well, having lived there for a year, and we've already visited the enchanting oceanic frontier of El Hierro -- of both, we will tell soon in this series. Of course we know La Graciosa as well, considering we actually see it from our courtyard every day. But this time, we set our sights on La Palma, known as "La Isla Bonita" -- "The Beautiful Island" in Spanish. And trust us, it lives up to its name!
We got to La Palma thanks to a comfortable internal flight, from Arrecife Airport via Binter (the Canary Islands airlines). Binter flies small crafts for short-haul flights, and it offers a very good service. It's not cheap, but as Canarian residents we benefit from a heavy discount -- so it sets us back no more than taking a bus or a train; and the experience is similar as well with quick, simplified check-ins and security checks compared to those of longer flights -- Canarian airports have dedicated terminals. We departed from Arrecife in the morning, and after a quick connection in Tenerife, we made the second leg of the flight, just half an hour during which we could behold the huge Mount Teide, towering at over 3,700 meters over a cloud-covered ocean. A sight to behold! And then we were in La Palma, ready for our 4-day adventure.
Day One: Fuencaliente
Our first day set the tone with a visit to the majestic caldera of Volcan San Antonio. This unique spot can be reached with a ten-minute, easy walk from Los Canarios. The trail is easy but adventurous, and you can see the rich vegetation growing inside the deep caldera on a side, and a fantastic panorama over the volcanic coast on the other. Then we drove down the LP-207, a beautiful panoramic road which offers a walking detour to the vineyards around Volcan de Teneguia, and then passes by the Salinas de Fuencaliente, with their charming lighthouses that painted a vivid postcard in our minds. The road goes on skirting several stunning black beaches. We chose Playa Echentive, or Playa Nueva, famous since ancient times for a hot spring (it seems they are currently building a spa there). This coastal area, the very southern tip of the island, offers incredible contrasts -- deep blue against powerful black -- a crystal clear ocean, calm waters perfect for scuba diving (there are several centers in Los Canarios) but also for snorkeling and freediving. Of course, that's just what we did, donning our masks, taking a deep breath and encountering a fantastic host of different fishes, including funny-looking trumpetfish, neon-blue damsels and green wrasses, timid scorpionfish, groupers, and yellow-lined salemas. They were curious, not at all scared, played at our feet and swam with us, as though willing to show us their home.
Day Two: Cumbre Vieja and Poris de La Candelaria
As we ventured further on Day 2, a smoking crater showcased the island's recent fiery past and the transformative power of nature. The western area, vastly reshaped by the 2021 Cumbre Vieja eruption, served as a poignant reminder of the ever-changing landscapes of our world. We visited Caños del Fuego, where we took the guided tour to Cueva del Vidrio ("Glass Cave") and walked the catwalks over the black lava fields from the eruption of the San Juan volcano in 1949. Then, we were speechless as we drove through the new road cutting through the flood of lava of the latest eruption -- an abrupt shift from banana plantations to an expanse of sharp black which obliterated everything. And yet, some white houses still stood at the very edges of these solidified rivers of fire, as though for some reason they decided to have mercy of a selected few...
We drove on, up winding roads and panoramic stretches -- several nice viewpoints here -- to look for Poris de La Candelaria, a fishing village nestled in a volcanic cave, our next stop. We took the wrong road and went down a terrifying downhill (in La Palma, you'll find many of these crazy-steep plunges!), then we found the right one. We stopped here and there to explore the surroundings and to take in the amazing views. The last stretch is a 15-minute downhill walk (if you find a place in the small lower parking, which we didn't, but there's another parking a little uphill). The path is well-kept, paved and easy, good for every age. After the last turn, the place appears and it seems straight out of a fantasy novel. The cave is another perfect freediving and snorkeling spot in La Palma, with stunning rock formations and colorful marine vegetation. Satisfied with our underwater explorations, we made the short uphill back and drove to the nice mountain town of El Paso -- the sight of a nearby still-smoking crater was peculiar -- where we spent our second night.
Day Three: Caldera de Taburiente and Roque de Los Muchachos
Day 3 was a visual feast, every moment a snapshot of nature's grandeur. We wanted to visit the highest spot of the island, Roque de Los Muchachos, passing by Puntagorda and the LP1 road, but we had to change our plans due to an ogoing fire in the area. So we traversed the island, made a quick stop at the capital Santa Cruz de La Palma to check in at our hotel for the next night. Then we drove up the LP4, venturing into the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.
From the dizzying heights of the caldera mountains we enjoyed panoramic views of El Hierro, Gomera, and Tenerife, which seemed to float over a cloud-carpeted ocean beyond the abyss, plunging abruptly down the caldera wall -- a vertical drop thousands of meters high. We're from the Alps -- so, not at all new to imposing mountains, but these walls are exceptional! You still can feel the fury of fire and the explosions which sculpted them millions of years ago. It's still in the air. It lingers. And it's an intoxicating sensation.
We made a short hike to Pico de la Cruz, a very easy walk of about 500 meters right from the side of the LP4 road. The summit offered us vistas which seem to stretch into eternity. Next, the Mirador de los Andenes: absolutely worth a stop. Here, we encountered a couple of friendly crows very interested in our biscuits. A short drive and we reached the famous observatory of Roque de los Muchachos, where telescopes from many nations look at the stars with their big eye. We would have liked to watch at the stars as well -- considering this is one of the best spots on Earth for stargazing, thanks to the Sky Law and a perfect combination of position, climate, and pristine air. Unfortunately, a full moon was expected tonight... so we just took a hike around and walked the path leading to the Mirador del Espigón del Roque, a ten minute walk from the parking lot on a pathway which weirdly reminisce of the Great Wall of China. The viewpoint at the very end of the short trail offers an unforgettable view, as you feel like standing on top of the ancient eruption, frozen in time.
Day Four: Los Tilos
We spent the night in Santa Cruz, where we ate at a nice areperia in charming and tranquil Plaza de la Alameda, and had an early morning stroll under the capital's typical flowery balconies.
Our exploration continued with a nearby destination: the area of Los Tilos, where luxuriant canyons and cool, verdant forests waited for us. We visited Cubo de la Galga first, where a network trails allow you to basically choose how long you want to walk. We made the basic route, which is well-marked and dives into a veritable jungle. It's about five kilometers the round-trip, with little altitude gain, and perfect with kids.
Our second destination for the final day was close: Cascada de Los Tilos waterfall. Here, the drive along the LP-105 is great, and the walk is very short -- about ten minutes along a fun trail leading through tunnels in the rock and then opening up in the heart of the canyon to the sight of the beautiful tropical waterfall. We couldn't resist walking under such a fresh, invigorating shower!
We'll be back soon!
Yet, La Palma's allure doesn't end here. The island promises more adventures, from kayaking to Cueva Bonita to horse-riding in its northern landscapes. The elusive Playa de Nogales remains on our list: we just saw it but we couldn't reach it because we were getting late for our return flight. That playa really struck us, as we took it in with wide eyes from the pathway leading down the cliff, with its towering black cliffs covered in verdant vegetation. A dream! So, we've already bought the tickets for a 2.0 visit this September -- ensuring the moon phases align for the stargazing experience at Roque de Los Muchachos. Another item we added to our (ever-growing) to-do list -- but for a trip when our daughters will be with their grandparents -- is the Ruta de Los Volcanes, a trail on the volcanoes of the south, about 23km long with 1,200 meters of positive gain. And of course, the traverse of the whole island coast-to-coast (a project we have for all the Canaries, but we're not in a hurry) must be a fantastic, and extremely tough adventure.
The island's unique volcanic, raw natural beauty; its mysterious lush forests and verdant canyons; the Ocean's rich tapestry of marine life; the strong contrasts; the stupefying vistas. All of this, accompanied by the idyllic Canarian weather, make La Palma a must-visit in the Canaries. And for those seeking challenging trails, it promises an adventure like no other.
We invite you to join our journey, to experience the magic of the Canaries with us. Dive deeper into our adventures by subscribing to our YouTube channel, liking our videos, and staying tuned for more tales from Lanzarote and the other Canaries.