La Palma

I visited La Palma with my then boyfriend on a bit of a whim. We knew we wanted to go away somewhere but weren’t sure where that would be, until he found La Palma on the Thomson website (Thomson are the only way you will get a direct flight from England, flying from either Manchester or Gatwick). We stayed in the La Palma & Teneguia Princess on the west side of the island. Boasting 11 (yep,11!) swimming pools, a spa, tennis courts, nice rooms and a good selection of food in all of their restaurants and pretty incredible pizza, it’s safe to say we were more than happy with our hotel.

La Palma is a little island made up of volcanoes, black beaches, pretty flowers, amazing walks, lots of trees, bananas and a bodega that sells one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. It is the furthest of the Canary Islands, located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco.

One of the first things you notice when you arrive on the island is that they grow A LOT of bananas. Driving around the island to our hotel was quite a drive.  As there is almost zero flat ground here the journey to the hotel consisted of lots of downhill, winding roads with tight bends and insane drops!  We did however have some amazing views of the ocean, passed bodegas and vineyards and of course had crazy views of the sea of banana plants from the many plantations on the island. A large chunk of the islands economy comes from the growing and distribution of bananas and many of the plantations will offer tours, the La Palma & Teneguia Princess offers tours around the plantation around the hotel.

The island of La Palma is basically one giant volcano.  Okay so maybe not ONE giant volcano, it is however made up of lots of different ones, of which the last eruption was 1971.  Everywhere you look you see evidence of volcanoes, whether it’s the volcanoes themselves or the cold, hardened molten rock left behind from what I guessed was their last eruption; in some areas this looks pretty spectacular.  For those of you who love a good long hike and want a closer look, you can take a hike up almost all of the volcanoes.  For those who aren’t the biggest hikers but more a fan of a nice stroll or mini cruise soaking up the Rays, there are great forests and the national park which make for great walks or strolls.  With the amazing greenery, caves and plants there is plenty to see and explore in the forests, even if you just wander through at a gentle pace.  If you like the sound of soaking up the sun whilst enjoying what the island has to offer, you can take a cruise around the island and see the volcanoes from a distance whilst also catching some other great views such as pirate cove, cliff side huts, small hidden beaches and maybe even taking a dip in the ocean at the same time.

El Roque de los Muchachos is home to the observatory, boasting fifteen enormous telescopes, including GranTeCan, and the highest point of the island at an impressive 7,992 feet.  GranTeCan is a 10.4m reflecting telescope that lives on the mountain.  It took 7 years and £112 million (just under $145.5 million) to build and is the worlds largest telescope.  Although El Roque de los Muchachos may have an impressive collection of telescopes, I was pretty excited about the views of other Canary Islands above the clouds, the rocky landscape views, the two German hitchhikers we met and the terrifying drive down the mountain!  I mean seriously, those bends are crazy!

For the star lovers and enthusiasts out there, La Palma was named the worlds first starlight reserve.  This means that they are committed to keeping the light pollution to a minimum and preserving the quality of the night sky to ensure that everyone has access to the light of the stars.

Unfortunately during my time in La Palma I didn’t get to spend much time in its capital Santa Cruz, but I did pay a quick visit and would have loved to have had the chance to explore it a little more. However, we did visit a great little place named Bodegón Tamanca for lunch on our way.  Situated inside a mountain, the bodega was cosy and welcoming with its wooden beams, low lighting and friendly staff.  We were seated and waited on very quickly and even with the language barrier (our waiter didn’t speak very good English or German and we didn’t speak Spanish) we still felt comfortable and welcomed.  We both ordered steak and a side of fries between us, which we didn’t need as the steak was served with white rice and grated carrot lightly fried in sea salt.  I feel like I should point out here that however you would usually order your steak in the UK, if you visit la Palma you may find that you want to order it slightly differently.  If you would usually order your steak medium, you may want to order it medium/well in La Palma and some other parts of Europe.  That being said… It was still one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten!

After hiking up volcanoes, strolling through forests, working on your tan on a mini cruise, stargazing, exploring plantations and eating bananas, visiting incredible black sand beaches, taking in some of the most incredible views, visiting the capital Santa Cruz and eating one of the best steaks you will ever eat in your life, what else is left other than admiring the vast variety of flowers scattered around the island?

Before I visited, I had never heard of La Palma, it is probably the least well-known of the Canary Islands but really is a beautiful gem hiding in plain sight.

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