In the 15th century the conquest and subsequent colonisation of La Gomera by the Spanish established a lordship regime on the island in the person of Hernán Peraza the Elder, who was the first in a series of twelve lords to rule the insular territory. The despotic rule and enslavement policy of his successor Hernán Peraza el Mozo faced tenacious resistance by the natives, leading even to his death by the hands of an aboriginal warrior Hautacuperche in the year 1488.
Following this event there was ruthless repression carried out by the ruler of Gran Canaria, Pedro de Vera, who executed many Gomerans or sold them as slaves, introducing a proper feudal regime on La Gomera.
The importance of La Gomera in navigation was based on its status as one of the main ports of call for Atlantic shipping, as was shown by Christopher Columbus himself in 1492 on his voyage to discover America.
At the beginning of the 19th century with the elimination of the feudal lordship, and the landowners sold their property to private citizens representing the agricultural middle class..this process yet did not solve the penury of the Gomeran farmer, who continued to work as an underprivileged sharecropper for the landowners.
This condition led many of them to choose emigration as the only way out of the harshest way of life and working.. The scarce population left on the island continued farming traditional crops like potatoes, maize, vegetables, etc. Soon after in the second half of the century the crisis of domestic agriculture resulted in a mass emigration to Venezuela and Tenerife, leaving La Gomera with only 15,000 inhabitants.
Since 1970s the unexpected boom of tourism and construction industry, aided by the creation of a regular ferry link between San Sebastián and Los Cristianos in 1974, has consolidated the growth of southern tourist resorts like Playa Santiago and Valle Gran Rey, leaving rest of La Gomera in a state of indeterminacy and agricultural decadence.
Valle Gran Rey is the main destination on La Gomera, and has three main beaches. The Charco del Conde's Baby Beach is a small shallow bay perfect for toddlers, and also suitable for elderlies too. A little further from there lies the wild and rugged naturist beach, Playa del Ingles. This beach can be dangerous for swimming especially in winter.
La Gomera Gecko (Tarentola gomerensis), also known as Perenquén in Canary Islands, is a species of lizard in the Gekkonidae family. It is endemic to Spain.
Its natural habitats are temperate shrubland, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, rocky areas, rocky shores, pastureland, plantations , rural gardens, and urban areas (wikipedia)
Although a considerable amount of work has been done signposting paths, La Gomera is still pretty wild. Walking and hiking can be relatively strenuous on account of the terrain. Some fairly gentle walks can be found, however. Take to the hills or visit the National Forest on foot! It can be hot and dry - take plenty of water with you and good protection against the sun, particularly in summer. On the other hand higher in the forest it is likely to be cool and during the winter months some will find it cold and damp. It does rain sometimes and can be torrential. Carry suitable clothing. On longer walks you will be glad of your own provisions - not many restaurants, cafes or snack bars away from the towns.
A useful guide is suggested under "General Tips."
Alltogether la Gomera is off the beaten path.I hope this not spreads!How about a horse ride among the palm trees?Or the breathtaking view from Corros d'Epina ?(drinking coffe beside the large windows of the restaurant located there).Or maybe going there in winter while the rest world is freezing (OK not ALL of it )
I really enjoyed the ambiance of the damp atmospheric ancient laurel tree forest. In the humid forest we saw also a lot of large ferns.
When the first humans came to la Gomera most of the island was covered with laurel trees, but nowadays only a small upland area is left. This area is protected in the National Park of Garajonay since 1978 and registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The most amazing of our walk in the ancient forest in the National Park of Garajonay were the very old moss cloaked trees with the most fantastic forms, standing in the swirling mist. There are sixteen of varieties of laurel trees, but there are also Canary willows and Canary holly.
The ancient laurel forest is like a forest from another world of time. Around 2 million years ago, when ice ages wiped out, laurel forest covered most of the Mediterranean regions.
Climate changes had less effects on the Canaries, allowing remnants of this dense forest to survive on islands like la Gomera.
We parked our car at the Alto de Contadero and walked from there to the Ermita Nuestra Senora de Lourdes. The walk through the ancient forest with moss cloaked laurel trees was like a fairy tale, especially when it became more and more cloudy and misty, walking to the north. Here the Atlantic tradewinds, barrelling against the island and condensing into clouds, cause mist and enough moisture. This moisture produces a dense, light blocking canopy and encouraging moss and liches to grow abundantly. But you need also to take your rain coat.
The most outstanding attraction of La Gomera is the Parque National de Garajonay, especially the world's most ancient forests of moss cloaked laurel trees.
The day before we started our walks, we visited first the Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional de Garajonay at the other side of the island in the north, outside the park. The centre is near Las Rosas on the way from Hermigua to Vallehermoso. In the centre we saw an exhibition of the flora, fauna and geology of la Gomera. There is also a small botanic garden.
Opening hours 9.30 am till 4.30 pm, free entrance. Closed at mondays.
My favourite place was Alojera, a remote fishing village built on the steep cliffside in the north west of the island. The best bit was getting there in the jeep - the road descended from 3000 feet to the coast with spectacular views at every turn, as well as high winds. The beach was black volcanic sand, and was good to sit on, but the Atlantic winds made it too dangerous to swim.
The most picturesque village on the island is Agulo, between Hermigua and San Sebastian. From the road it looks like two separate villages on two separate hills, and with Tenerife looming in the background, it is one of the classic views...but unfortunately we seem to have lost that photo, so instead you've got a very young me tramping Agulo's cobbled streets!
In the centre of the island is the Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a huge forest (I remember it being described as a rainforest, but I'm not sure about that one!). There are several 'miradores' where you can get spectacular views of the forest and the islands of Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro beyond. This photo shows Mount Teide on Tenerife in the distance. The area would have been fantastic for trekking, but when you're twelve years old, deciding which of the hotel's three pools to swim in is much more exciting! Next time I will definately do some hiking!
The whole island was off the beaten path when we went, and I can't imagine much has changed since then.
The best thing to do is to hire a car, or a jeep for the really remote roads...but beware! Some of the roads run right along the cliffside, and sometimes there is no safety barrier - not a good idea for vertigo sufferers! This picture was taken from the roadside near the northern town of Hermigua, which is worth visiting for its craft shops. near to Hermigua is Playa de Hermigua, an extremely rough bay, with the remains of an old banana port. I wouldn't recommend swimming in the sea, but there is a sea-water swimming pool cut into the rocks here.
One day we took a boat trip from Playa de Santiago to San Sebastian passing the remote southern coast. This village, called El Cabrito, lies at the end of a long steep valley, and is inaccessible by road. There is no harbour either, so the only way to reach it is by walking from the top of the valley. Next time, I will do this walk!
Valle Gran Rey is supposed to be the most beautiful of La Gomera's valleys, and is the one shown in most pictures of the island. It is beautiful, but I think there are nicer places on the island. The drive through the valley to the sea passes some of the best examples of the terraces used to cultivate the land.
The beaches are rough and wild, but are not the most attractive of beaches, especially with all of the development going on behind them...OK I'm exaggerating a little - we're not talking the next Benidorm here, but it could easily become spoilt.