This NEUTRAL tourist information about the Canary Island of La Palma has been written by the artist and global traveller Rudolf Megert.
Click on the following link if you would like to compare it to the official local tourist info for La Palma.
How do you get to La Palma?
From outside of Europe there are no direct flights, however, once you get to a major European airport you find plenty of very cheap charter flights from European countries.
The main tourism stream to La Palma comes from Germany (Air Berlin, Neckermann, Condor, Tui) and the Netherlands, but individuals from many other European nations are visiting as well. We are not sure if there are direct charter flights from the UK to La Palma, but most certainly from the UK to Tenerife, where it is easy to change to a small turbo prop island hoping plane from Binter Canarias that takes only half an hour and is no more expensive then the Fred Olsen ferry boat that takes 2 hours but travels only once a day, while Islas Airways flies almost on an hourly basis with virtually no need for reservations.
Travellers always arrive on the east side of La Palma, either at the harbour directly in Santa Cruz de La Palma (the capitol city of La Palma) or via the airport just a few miles to the south of Santa Cruz. Between the airport and the old city of Santa Cruz there is La Palma’s major new tourist development with 3 to 4 star hotels and holiday apartments, Los Cancajos, especially built for the sun seeking mass tourism.
Los Cancajos is pretty much like any other Spanish coastal tourist complex, souvenir shops, food, wine, a few restaurants and of course, Los Cancajos has the main beach site of the entire island. Naturally there is construction work going on here and there on this place so peace and quiet is not always guaranteed, but compared to tourist developments on the more known larger islands it is relatively small here and tranquility can still be found rather easily. For the fun seeking big city seeking tourist Los Cancajos and all of La Palma may however offer a bit to little of entertainment venues, this island is a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers in general as La Palma has been declared a „World Biosphere“ by the UNO.
Factories and other major polluting industries are rare here, there is only the fuel burning electricity producing factory that is a sore for the nose and the eye should you choose to stay near Los Cancajos or Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Santa Cruz itself is a really old city, wheter some likes this or not, so are the shops along the 2 main streets of this city, wheter you like it or not, they are not yet self serve, you have to stand at a counter and ask for what you want, difficult if you don’t speak Spanish, even more difficult because the locals are not all educated with knowledge of foreign languages.
La Palma has a pretty easy to use local Bus system that get’s you all around the island. The major bus route (and major road in general) leads from Santa Cruz rather steep upwards, to the major infrastructures of this island, schools, hospital, sports complexes. Smaller villages like San Antonio, Mazo or San Pedro are half way up the „cumbra“ route, the way up to the pass, somewhere at already 1500 meters above sea level (the peak of the islands highest volcano is at 2400 meters above sea level).
It sure is a scenic drive up and it is an even more impressive exit out of the tunnel on the other side of the island where strong falling winds from east to west often „paint“ the most amazing cloud formations and movements into the skies directly above the cusp.
La Palma is generally divided into west and east, with rather different climates on each side.
The east is a bit cooler and windier, the west is generally warmer but can receive some very strong storms.
Mainly locals reside around the northern tip of the island because it get’s more rain and has therefore better soil and it is easier to grow all sorts of all the regular garden crops.
The south of the island is the windiest tip, but it is so steep that building any house there literally guarantees a free view of the ocean.
Driving down from the cumbra the first noticeable site is the major tourist attraction of La Palma, the Visitors Center with lots of information about all the amazing volcanoes that have shaped this island over 1000’s of years. The Visitors Center is also the main starting point for hiking trips up and into the main La Palma volcano crater, the „Caldeira de Taburiente“, it’s a fascinating scenery to discover on foot or by car.
While hiking around in this massive mountainous landscape it is essential to wear good shoes and have all-weather clothing with you as the peaks draw lots of mist and clouds and rain or storm can come at any time the higher up you are – whilst it is sunny down along the beaches!
Generally the climate here is very mild, an all year round spring climate makes it favourable to permanentally life here.
Provided there are no stormy seas one can also go for a swim pretty much at any time of the year, the currents are equally mild all year round.
The first small city you will get to on your way down on the western side of La Palma is the rather nice looking clean town of El Paso.
El Paso is favoured by the climate as it get’s both, warmth and humidity in a good mixture.
Finca Gabriela is located within this township.
Mangoes, Grapes, Papayas, Avocadoes, all Citrus Fruits, Pears, Tomatoes, Almonds and an endless number of cactuses and flowers are growing well here.
Finca Gabriela has most of the above on it’s own grounds, including it’s own wine Bodega.
Life here is for many central Europeans a dream come true, have your own land, grow your own very natural fresh fruit, produce and let your own free range chicken lay your daily supply of eggs!
Further down from El Paso one can already see the bustling city of Los Llanos.
If there is a modern city on La Palma this is the one. It is almost as big as Santa Cruz but has the looks and atmosphere of any good modern European city, people are out and about, there is a major plaza to hang out without need for consumption and to see and to be seen, just like the well dressed locals do.
Shopping here is much more fun then in Santa Cruz, so watch your budget.
The downside of this active city is that it isn’t yet down on the beach. It still is a 10 minutes drive down to either Tazacorte Beach or the more touristic Puerto Naos, a small spot of flat land on a small spot of flat beach on the side of steep foothills.
Beaches La Palma and Beach sizes on this side of the island are limited by natures geography here, but Puerto Naos seems to be particularly popular with winter escapees from central Europe.
Going south from Puerto Naos one hits some pretty black bizar cold lava fields, remnants of eruptions of smaller volcanoes in recent history, the latest back in 1971. This side seems destined for future tourism development, a first big complex has already been built, more to follow for the sea, sun and fun loving mass tourist.
The north of La Palma is often referred to as the „forgotten north“ as there is not many businesses or modern infrastructure that ever had a big interest in settling here, but it too has beautiful sights to discover and it is the least prone to any newvolcano eruptions that may or may not happen in La Palma’s future.
To sum it all up; La Palma is not exactly a bustling modern hub of creativity or innovations, it’s a mild easy living island in the sun that has not lost touch with nature and escaped so far the pitfalls of modern mass tourism quite well.