Where is La Palma?
La Palma is the second most western island in the archipelago after El Hierro and the second most northern island after Lanzarote.
It has the shape of a heart or of a tooth and a size of 708 square kilometers. La Palma is the second-highest island; the massive Caldera de Taburiente dominates the central part of the island and the Roque de los Muchachos, at 2,426 meters, is the second-highest point on the island after Mount Teide. The central and northern parts are green while the south of La Palma offers a moon-like landscape very similar to the one found in Lanzarote.
So many things to enjoy!
La Palma is a paradise for hikers and hiking is with no doubt the number 1 activity on the island. Guided hiking tours are available and are not a bad option since many of the less frequented paths can become difficult due to overgrowing plants.
But there is much more than hiking! La Palma is a great destination for wine lovers and Malvasia grape offers some fantastic local wines. Star-gazing is also a very popular activity in La Palma and despite the Observatory at Roque de los Muchachos is not always opened for visits, La Palma offers one of the clearest skies in the Northern hemisphere. Local guided tours are organized all year round and offer a great experience.
La Palma also offers good diving opportunities and the most recent volcanic eruptions have created some pretty interesting underwater sights. Despite scuba-diving in La Palma is not as spectacular as diving in Lanzarote, you will be able to enjoy particularly clear waters and abundant submarine fauna.
Las but not least, La Palma is well-known for the quality of its woodwork, pottery and basketry and some local markets like the one at Los Llanos or Garafia offer good opportunities for local shopping.
Quick facts about La Palma
Close to 80,000 people population concentrate in Santa Cruz de La Palma and in the western part of the island.
Over 700 species of Flora of which 50 are only to be found in La Palma are numbers that speak about the ecological value of the island. There are some impressive laurel forests in the northeast of the island.
La palma´s economy is led by agriculture: banana plantations are to be found everywhere in the island ad annual production has only grown in recent decades in detriment of wine. Wine trade was once very important but it is far less profitable than banana and vines were removed to get banana trees planted instead.
Water supply is not a main problem in La Palma unlike for some of its “sisters” in the Canary archipelago.
La Palma is the most humid of the Canary islands, with over 700 mm of annual rainfall.
Natural parks and hiking
La Caldera del Taburiente is la Palma´s top tourist attraction. It is one of Spain´s top National parks, a tittle reserved to the best natural areas of the country. But there are many more natural areas that can be enjoyed in La Palma. La Ruta de los Volcanes is a great example. It can be enjoyed from Fuencaliente and offers a moon-like landscape. The Northern part of La Palma also offers excellent natural areas: from cliffs in the least explore areas in the northern coast, to the amazing laurel forests in the north east.
Whale and dolphin wacthing
Daily excursions departure from Tazacorte port to enjoy dolphins and small whales. Sightings can be enjoyed nearly always and despite La Palma offers less resident population than the waters between La Gomera and Tenerife, this is a great activity to enjoy in the island.
Brief history of La Palma
The island had a fantastic name before the arrival of Spanish troops: Benahoare. Benahoare means “My Homeland” and was organized in 12 different cantons which had a chief each (mencey). Local “benahoaritas” were described as the tallest of all inhabitants in the Canary Islands, and women described as “Amazonian” and fierce fighters. Due to its geography, La Palma was one of the last islands to be conquered.
The island became rich in the 16th century thanks to the exports of sugar, honey and wine. Today, La Palma is still the island where locals are keener to enjoy very sweet desserts.
Wealth brought also problems and the port of Santa Cruz de la Palma was attacked on a good number of occasions by pirates, including the famous Frenchman, François Le Clerc.
You can learn more about the history of the Canary islands on this article