Why it’s time to go to the spectacular Canary Island the crowds forgot...
Think of the perfect ingredients for an outdoor lover’s paradise. Secret beaches. Sub-tropical forest. Dramatic mountains. Magical volcanic rock formations. Clifftops overlooking seas rich with whales, dolphins and turtles. A national park criss-crossed with hiking trails for all abilities. And all of it just a budget flight away. Too good to be true? Almost. But not quite. La Gomera may not be a familiar name, but it’s about to be your new favourite place on the planet.
An island wonder
Situated off the coast of North Africa but part of Spain, La Gomera is one of the Canary Isles. Almost circular in shape and compact in size – 370 square kilometres to be exact – its highest point of Alto de Garajonay outstrips Ben Nevis by a whisker at 1487m and is completely unique. The peak is a series of volcanic spires above canyons – barrancos – that run out from the centre of the island to the sea like the spokes of a wheel. The centrepoint of Garajonay National Park – which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List– with the exception of the very top, the highest point is covered in a dense ‘cloud forest’, home to teeming wildlife and a network of hiking trails. The laurel forest of El Cedro teems with waterfalls, streams and the vivid green vegetation of fairytales. The viewpoint of Los Roques is as staggering as anything in Peru’s Machu Picchu, and there are trails to suit all abilities in the park. Sea views, dramatic rock formations and vivid colours make the island a truly spectacular place.
Wines, views and history
After the day’s activities it is time to discover the cultural highlights of the island, which Columbus chose as his last port of call before his historic voyage to America in 1492. The Mirador de Abrante is a glass walkway over cliffs, with one of the finest views in the Canaries, including the colossal volcano of Teide (3718m) on neighbouring Tenerife. The Valle Gran Rey, with its black sand beaches, offers famous sunsets over the Atlantic. And there are many distinctive local wines and tapas to be enjoyed.
When to go
La Gomera is beautiful at any time of year – it’s warm in the winter and in the summer escapes the heavy heat of West Africa thanks to its coastal, breezy location. Between Easter and the beginning of winter it is perfection itself. Flights are plentiful to Tenerife, from where a ferry will take you away from the crowds to this unspoilt island.
3 facts about La Gomera
- The island has 600km of trails, most of which are interconnected, allowing for a vast combination of routes.
- La Gomera was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2012.
- Silbo Gomero is the island's unique language. Comprising of whistles that can be heard over two miles away, it was designed to allow communication across the barrancos (canyons), and has been declared a cultural heritage by UNESCO.
Hidden places are hard to find, but La Gomera proves they don’t have to be hard to get to. For more about this stunning island, see www.lagomera.travel