Favorite thing: Tazacorte is a sleepy beach town with a lovely beach area. Really hot when we visited. Nice cafes to sit in behind the beach and promenade area, a real chill out unspoilt place. A playground was being refurbishesd during our visit so that was a little bit of an eyesore but still this would definitely be a favoutite place to catch the rays in a pretty place - its claim to fame is as the warmest place on La Plama. The narrow harbour streets are lined with colourful old La Palma houses. Tazacorte is located at the bottom of Valle de Aridane, some 6km from Los Llanos.
Favorite thing: Puerto Naxos is another developed beach resort, this time on the sunnier west side of the island. Often the most sunniest place to be - just not so when we visited. Good promenade lined with beach bar cafes and shops on the pavement side. Big hotels and many apartments and souvenir shops. Not my choice of resort, bit too touristic for my liking but good amount of sand. I preferred the beach at Cancajos but the weather is more consistent on the west side. Was a popular spot for paragliders to jump off the cliffs behind the resort and land on the beach.
El Paso is the largest council area on the island and is the only one which does not have a coast.
Its virtually in hte centre of La Palma Island. Its a pretty colourful town with its houses, churches, open air arena for festivals and silk museum. Also good for shopping with a large superstore. There is a good tourist office here with plenty of information on what to do and whats going on in La Plama.
InOn the nothwest of La Palma in the Puntagorda area you can see some really colourful bus stops - works of art not graffitti. In 2007 the Puntagorda Council asked local artist Goretti to decorate all the bus shelters within the council area with scenes typical of Puntagorda. She designed and, over a period of months, painted all 8 bus shelters with different designs.
We saw a few and of course just had to stop to photo one - this one is on the main road past Puntagorda just before the turn off to El Fayal and the market (Mercadillo). It shows scenes from the farmers market, which is held every Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Just a few km above Puerto de Tazacorte is the Mirador El Time - a popular lookout point at 510m above sea level. You could take the path up bit its easier to take the path down, zig-zagging down the cliff to the harbour. We didn't do either but we did stop here a couple of times in the car for the views, especially good at sunset. A cafe is here too if you want a snack/drink.
The path is clearly signposted at either end of the walk.
Favorite thing: Pretty town, very colourful. One of the best area for growing bananas in the Canaries. Below the town via a winding road up and down a ravine is its port area - Puerto de Tazacorte. The views across the plantations and to the ocean are beautiful. Colourful houses, some with balconies and a quaint church add to the delight of this town.
Los Cancajos is the main tourist centre on the east side of the island of La Palma and where we were based. Having said that its not over developed and retains a pleasant low key atmsophere. Shops and tapas bars line the main road. There is also a coastal path along the front linking the bays and black volcanic sand - unfortunately the path does not extend all the way into Santa Cruz. If the path is chosen you have to climb many steps to get up to the road to continue the walk into the capital - takes about 30 minutes from the hotel. The beaches are pleasantly situated in small coves and never looked crowded.
There are a couple of excellent bars at the back ot the beaches and the food being served up there looked authentic and tasty.
Many walking guides are available for La Palma.
Since the island is subjected to continuous change and development, it is also good to buy a detailed map with the walking trails, indicated with the letters GR (long distance), PR (medium distance) and SL (local trails).
We mainly used the Dutch "ANWB Wandelgids La Palma", second printing 2005, originally written by Susanne Lipps. This guide mainly describes hikes with the same start and finish. This is very easy because you can park your car somewhere and get back to it. However, some of the walks in the second printing were not fully correct anymore due to changes in roads etc. Be warned, the first tunnel in walk #18 was closed with a gate when we were there in Januari 2008 (however, we went under the gate :-)
We also had the Sunflower La Palma and El Hierro guide by Noel Rochford. This guide describes mainly walks that go from one point to another (different start and finish) and therefore is very suitable for people that want to use public transport. This guide also uses a web-based update service to make sure you can always have the latest information about the hikes. See for public transportation: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/6117e/40867/9/
In the north-east there are two swimming pools built in the ocean.
One of them is called Charco Azul, near San Andrés. It has two pools, a large one, deep enough to dive into, and a smaller one, where fish also swim in. The sea fills the pools, each time a wave comes in, but there are no real currents, so that swimming is save for everyone. The real ocean is often to wild to swim in. Sometimes, when the wind comes from the right direction, the waves can be very high.
The entrance is free. There is also a restaurant/bar.
The most striking of Isla de La Palma is the Caldera de Taburiente. If you don't have visit or seen the caldera you don't have seen the island of La Palma.
The caldera is no vulcanic crater, as thought for a long time, so the use of the name caldera is not right. After long survey the opinion developed, that erosion by water and collapses formed the caldera.
The origin of all the Canary Islands was ever volcanic, but that was 30 million years ago.
The Caldera de Taburiente has a diameter of 10 KM and is surrounded by peaks of around 2400 M.
At the south west side the caldera is open. From the ocean you have a nice overview and a good look in the caldera with its form of an horseshoe.
Fondest memory: Our walk deep down in the caldera and the breathtaking views from the edges.
South of the Caldera de Taburiente the island of La Palma is divided in an east and west part by the mountain ridge Cumbre Vieja and Nueva.
This mountain ridge divides the island in a wet end dry part. The rains of the eastern part hardly reach the western dry part.
Coming from the east with heavy rainfall you will come in a clear blue sky at the sunny side after passing the tunnel at the mainroad between Santa Cruz and Los Llanos.
What you see mostly from the western side is the unique clouds crawl above the Cumbre.
The island of La Palma is a minicontinent with several climates and vegetation.
At 50 places on the Island of La Palma mysterious spiral inscriptions, engraved in the rocks, are found.
We visited the easy reachable and good signposted ones in La Zarza in the north west part of the island near Garafia and the ones in the caves of Belmaco in the south east part near Mazo.
We liked most trying to find also some of the other locations during our walks.
It's not known, who made the inscriptions and why. Some engravings are identified as dancing prehistoric people, others as signs of the Libyan alphabet.
All researchers think the alphabetical signs originate from North Africa, because there are found similar signs in the Sahara.
What is the best of La Palma??? I think that it still is pretty untouched by tourism. Except for the planeloads of germans that go there for the few beaches or the more eco friendly travelers that go for the beautifull hikes.
If you go, the biggest problem will be getting there (if you fly directly) Because there are enough hotels, motels guesthouses and whatever to accomocate the tourist now (let hope it wil stay like that, and not get like Gran Canaria), but the flights are limited.
Favorite thing: Explore the several small beaches at the southern part of the westcoast. My favorite one was in Puerto de Tazacorte, where you don´t have too big rocks and you can have both, waves and calm water. It also is not to far from the Los Llanos area where the most bungalows and appartments are located.
If you don´t need a big hotel, stay at the westcoast. The weather is much better there than on the eastside where it rains more often.
Take a hike along the vulcanic-route with breathtaking views over the island and after that enjoy a cortado (special coffee) at the main place in Los Llanos.
Fondest memory: The absolut best is the possibility to hike on high mountains and after that go swimming in the sea. The highest point on La Palma is the Roque de los Muchachos with 2426m.