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Tamara Hinson reviews La Palma in the Canary Islands

  • The Daily Mail's Tamara Hinson explored the pretty island of La Palma
  • One of the quirkier Canary Islands, it has black sand and is popular with hikers
  • She stayed at the Hacienda San Jorge hotel and enjoyed a dolphin-watching trip

By Tamara Hinson For The Daily Mail

Published: 10:53 GMT, 25 March 2017 | Updated: 10:54 GMT, 25 March 2017

The bright white speck on the deserted beach below doesn’t look like a human. But it is, albeit a naked one. The blackness of the volcanic sand on which he’s frolicking makes him stand out.

No one seems bothered. But, then, La Palma has long been one of the Canaries’ quirkier islands.

This is evident at the observation point near the town of Tijarafe, where an enormous statue celebrates the dexterity of shepherds who once navigated La Palma’s volcanic valleys and forested ravines on foot.

Tamara explored the pretty island of La Palma (pictured) which was quieter than some of the other Canary Islands Tamara explored the pretty island of La Palma (pictured) which was quieter than some of the other Canary Islands

Tamara explored the pretty island of La Palma (pictured) which was quieter than some of the other Canary Islands

They did this by lowering 10ft poles over steep drops before sliding down, fireman-style, or wedging poles against boulders and shimmying up.

The practice, known as salto del pastor (or shepherd’s leap), still happens at inter-island competitions.

La Palma is ‘the size of Anglesey, but with two Ben Nevises on top’, explains a local. But it’s the Caribbean which comes to mind.

The water is clear, the beaches wide and empty. The sand might be black, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s partly why the island, home to just under 100,000 people, hasn’t been taken over by the sun-lounging masses — although easyJet’s new Gatwick to La Palma route could see it become a hotspot.

The tourist board proudly describes it as a ‘slow island’, but I suspect locals reacted quickly when the Teneguía volcano erupted in 1971. 

We look down on its blackened interior as we wander around the pencil-thin rim of the nearby San Antonio caldera, part of the crater-studded Cumbre Vieja ridge.

The water here is clear and its black sand beaches are one of the reasons it hasn't been overrun with tourists The water here is clear and its black sand beaches are one of the reasons it hasn't been overrun with tourists

The water here is clear and its black sand beaches are one of the reasons it hasn't been overrun with tourists

La Palma is popular with hikers, with a vast number of well-marked trails.

Then, there are dolphin-watching excursions, when we gawp at colourful fish through the boat’s glass floor before the dolphins burst out of the water.

Back at our hotel, the Hacienda San Jorge, the manager produces a piece of Mars which landed after a meteorite hit the red planet and spat chunks of rock towards Earth. 

‘Soon I hope to buy a bit of the Moon,’ he says. ‘But it’ll take a while.’

Not a problem. La Palma, shaped by thousands of years of volcanic activity, is a reminder that good things come to those who wait. 

TRAVEL FACTS 

EasyJet (easyjet.com, 0330 365 5000) flies from Gatwick to La Palma on Tuesdays and Saturdays from £41 return. 

Hacienda San Jorge doubles from £94 per night (hsanjorge.com, 0034 922 18 10 66). 

More information, visitlapalma.es/en. 

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Tamara Hinson reviews La Palma in the Canary Islands
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