La Palma Towns & Villages

Garafia mapHighlights:

  • Spectacular scenery
  • Good walking opportunities
  • Excursions by coach

Garafia is found on the northern coast of La Palma and is one of the most stunning areas of the island. Excursions are popular to the region which offers rugged scenery, deep ravines and twisted roads.

The Roque de los Muchachos is a popular look-out point offering spectacular views and is also the highest point of the island. You will also find the Astronomical Observatory here which is home to one of the most extensive fleets of telescopes in the world.

The area of Garafia is a popular spot for serious walkers and many trails and tracks can be found here that take you over ridges, along ancient donkey tracks, past dragon trees, into rainforests and more.

Highlights:

  • Spectacular scenery
  • Good walking opportunities
  • Natural salt water pool

BarloventoBarlovento is situated northeast and is the wettest and greenest part of the island due to the prevailing winds. The landscape is rural and covered with pines, laurel forests, heathers and much more and the beauty of the region attracts many visitors each year.

The area is popular with walkers and many ancient paths and tracks can be found throughout the area offering a network of routes.

Barlovento has a large reservoir called Laguna de Barlovento which was originally a natural crater lake and has now been transformed into a fresh water reservoir for the local area. The area next to the reservoir is now used for recreational and camping activities.

Just to the east on the coast you will find Charco de la Fajana, a natural salt water pool area set into volcanic rocks which is a very popular spot for visitors to the area.

San Andrés

san_andres_map

Highlights:

  • Small traditional town
  • 16th century church
  • Natural salt water pools

San Andrés is a very charming, well-kept little town with a real unspoilt La Palma feel to it. Situated in the north east of the island, it offers an ideal stop for a couple of hours if you are touring the island by car, coach or on foot. Strolling around the charming cobbled streets, soaking up the quiet atmosphere and viewing the fine but simple architecture is a delight.

It’s a good starting point from which to walk or explore and the surrounding area is good for hiking with many major trails accessible by foot. This is a definite bonus as in other areas of the island, the trails are not within walking distance and you need transport to get to them.

The area itself is lush and green compared to some parts of the island, with its volcanic history set way in the past. The community consists both of the town of San Andrés and Los Sauces, which together house some 5,500 inhabitants.

The beautiful church is the 16th century Iglesia de San Andrés Apóstol which is situated near to the centre of San Andrés in a street of date palms and typical examples of Canary balconies. The church was one of the first temples to be built in the islands by Spanish conquerors and the patron saint of Nuestra Señora de Monserrat is celebrated with a festival in the first week of September each year.

Los Sauces is around 2.5 kilometres north west of San Andrés and can be accessed by the newly constructed bridge of Los Tilos. This spans the Barranco del Agua which at 357 metres is said to be the longest arched bridge in Spain. The town is busier than San Andrés and is wrapped around the road which passes through it.

Close to this area are the springs of Marcos y Corderos, set in the hills above San Andrés and the forest of Los Tilos. This area is considered to be a place of outstanding natural beauty and is therefore under the protection of UNESCO.

If you are visiting this area, we also recommend a visit to Charco Azul (see below).

Honest Reviews by Outdoor Views

We visited San Andrés on one of the Natours Walking Tours and loved it. It was a beautiful, quiet little town full of character and charm with cobbled streets and beautiful palms. The exterior of the church was lovely. We also saw two papaya trees, one male and one female which have different shaped fruits and you can guess which one is which! At the end of the tour, the group met up at the Bar Miami, a basic but quaint little bar in the town for a quick drink before heading home.

Don’t expect to be wowed here but it’s a nice little traditional town to stop off at and enjoy at your leisure and is worth a visit.

Charco Azul

Highlights:

  • Natural salt-water sea pools
  • Swimming (seasonal)

Charco Azul is located slightly north of San Andres and offers a unique swimming experience with natural sea pools set in the rocks. The pools have been slightly modified to make them safer for swimming but the seabed is still visible at the base. The protection offered by the rocks gives the impression of being in the ocean but without the danger of being swept away.

The area was originally a well-kept secret and just used by islanders but is now a popular tourist attraction and a regular stop-off point for coach trips. Due to this, the area can be quite busy in the summer months.

Charco Azul also has restaurants, showers and sunbathing areas for visitors to use.

The town itself has a rum distillery which prospered until a short time ago because of the plentiful water supply and sugar cane grown in the nearby area. They principally produced Ron Aldea.

Honest Reviews by Outdoor Views

We visited Charco Azul during one of the Natours excursions and although it was a rather gloomy day in February and too cold for swimming, it was well worth the trip and is something that we have never seen before. The colours in the pools were amazing and offered a great photographic opportunity. Our visit was quite brief but enjoyable all the same and I can imagine it must be gorgeous on a hot summers day. A unique experience to remember.

cancajos_mapHighlights: Beach Resort

  • Black sand beach with sheltered bays
  • Children’s play area
  • Watersports

The popular beach resort of Los Cancajos is located on the east coast of the island between the airport and Santa Cruz de la Palma. It serves as the principal beach area and seaside town for the capital city.

As a relatively new resort, it offers most of the features you’d expect including hotels, bars and restaurants, grocery stores, sun loungers, showers, a children’s playground and a black sand beach situated in three sheltered bays. It’s a small holiday resort compared to some of the other Canary Islands but offers all you need in one place with easy access to other areas. The capital city is 4km away and it’s just a 10 minute drive to the airport.

Watersports are popular here and it’s known as one of the best places on the island to snorkel and dive. The beach at Los Cancajos has been awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness and offers a safe environment for the whole family to enjoy.

Many coach excursions depart from here so you can easily pick up a tour to see the rest of the island. A regular bus service also runs frequently to Santa Cruz and other areas of the island.

Honest Reviews from Outdoor Views

Since we stayed on the west coast, our only views of Los Cancajos were from the coach window as we sat waiting to leave for our excursions but it looked like a busy little place that was a popular spot for tourism. There were hotels, shops, restaurants and bars all on offer together with a beach area for swimming etc which looked clean and tidy.

We generally preferred the more remote west side of the island but Los Cancajos had more to offer with regards facilities outside of the hotels and was in a good position for exploring the rest of the island. It is quite close to the airport but I think flights are rare!

fuencaliente_coast

Highlights:

  • Teneguia & San Antonio Volcanoes
  • Good walking opportunities
  • Fuencaliente Lighthouse
  • Rugged coastal views

fuencaliente_map

Fuencaliente is situated in the south of the island and is also known as Fuencaliente de la Palma. The main town, found in the higher region, is fairly small but has a few restaurants, bars and cafes together with a couple of supermarkets that offer all you need. Fuencaliente also has several small villages surrounding it including Las Indias and Los Canarios.

There’s not much to see if you are planning a day trip to be honest but the town has some interesting features and a church that dates from the early 18th Century.

The highlight and main attraction of the Fuencaliente area are the two volcanoes, Teneguía and San Antonio, which are well worth a visit and very popular with visitors to the island.

Fuencaliente’s rugged coastal areas are abundant with banana plantations and offer quiet black sand beaches and coves. Two lighthouses and a museum can be found on the southern tip of the island, an area called Punta Fuencaliente, which can be reached by car, bus or foot.

With the exception of the volcanoes, Fuencaliente is not a tourist area but because of this, it offers a quiet, peaceful, relaxing place to stay if you are looking for something more remote and away from it all and the coastal views are more impressive and rugged than the east coast.

Honest Reviews from Outdoor Views

We spent two weeks at the La Palma Princess Hotel on the Fuencaliente coastline which makes an ideal spot for a ‘get away from it all’ break. The hotel was good and if you are staying there, it’s easy to hop on the local bus, take an organised trip or hire a car to get around the island and overcome the remoteness if it gets too much!

The main point to make about Fuencaliente (and one of the reasons for this website) is that it’s an undeveloped area and there is not much around. We enjoyed the peace and quiet and nature but there were some holiday-makers at the hotel who weren’t prepared for it and didn’t like the location so bear this in mind. You only have to read some of the more negative Trip Advisor reviews to be put off but as long as you know what to expect, the hotel is a good choice in our opinion.

The town of Fuencaliente itself is quite small but upon further investigation, it had quite a bit of charm and some interesting buildings on offer. The surrounding area is quite varied with greenery and flowers in one part and volcanic rock in another and the volcanoes are definitely worth a trip. If you want a touristy beach resort with bars, restaurants and cash points on every corner, this is not for you.

You can read our full review of La Palma Princess Hotel which describes what we saw and what we thought in detail and also check our Hints & Tips page for some notes on the hotel.

puerto_mapHighlights: Small Town & Beach

  • Longest black sand beach on the island
  • Good year-round climate

Puerto Naos is located on the south-west coast and has one of the best beaches on the island which is formed from ground volcanic rock. It belongs to the Los Llanos community.

Puerto Naos was originally a traditional fishing village and is still fairly undeveloped and small but is a popular tourist area due to the beach and the climate. It’s located in one of the sunniest and warmest parts of the island and is therefore a popular winter spot too.

The town consists mainly of apartments and also has a few streets away from the beach offering restaurants, bars, cafe and shops.

Situated approximately 45 minutes from the airport, 20 minutes from Los Llanos and the Caldera De taburiente a further short drive away, it is a fairly good centre from which to explore.

The back esplanade is the landing point for two paragliding flight routes.

Tazacorte

Highlights: Small Town & Beach

  • Small traditional town
  • Black sand beach
  • Beach promenade
  • Fish restaurants, cafes & bars
  • Children’s play area

Tazacorte mapTazacorte and Puerto Tazacorte lie on the western side of the island, almost opposite Santa Cruz de la Palma, and the area is split into two main sections. Tazacorte is the main part of the town in the higher region and Puerto Tazacorte is the lower beach area. The area originally belonged to Los Llanos but was given its own independence in 1925 and became a separate village then.

The town of Tazacorte is situated slightly above the coast and is the main centre which houses the shops, supermarkets, post office, banks and town hall for the local community.

Puerto Tazacorte is the very attractive lower area on the coast which has a black-sand beach, fishing harbour and a promenade with colourful cafes, bars and restaurants together with a children’s play area.

The beautiful area is abundant with banana plantations and around 85% of the land area in Tazacorte is used for this purpose. Crops grow well with Tazacorte having the greatest number of hours of sun in Europe during the entire year so it makes an ideal holiday base from which to explore.

Honest Reviews from Outdoor Views

We reached Tazacorte by foot after a steady walk down from Los Llanos. The main town itself was simple but interesting with lovely tree-lined streets, pretty flowers and colourful houses and we found a great supermarket (with toilets) in the centre of the town and stocked up on drinks and snacks for the rest of our walk.

After stopping at a lovely seated area along the coastline with old-style balconies and gorgeous flowers, we continued towards the coast and came across a lovely square with old-style buildings and a statue. If you continue along the track towards the ocean through the banana plantations, there is a lovely wide path that seems to follow the coastline back up the coast. We didn’t have time to explore but did get some great photos of birds of prey that were flying around.

The walk down to Puerto Tazacorte followed a fairly steep and long road (LP1) but the footpath was safe and easy on the feet. There were a number of bus-stops along the road so you could catch the bus from top to bottom if you prefer.

Puerto Tazacorte itself was a lovely little place and we stopped for an ice-cream at the first cafe we saw (it was absolutely roasting for February!). The area looks fairly new and well-developed with play areas for children and a lovely stretch of black sand beach. Our walk then continued along through banana plantations and up a very steep track to Los Llanos again which was quite a hike but well worth the effort!

All in all, both places were interesting, varied and worth a visit if you are passing through.

Los Llanos balconies

Highlights: Traditional Spanish Town

  • Shopping
  • Plaza España
  • Walk to the coast
  • Old style wooden balconies throughout the town

los_llanos_mapWell worth a visit, Los Llanos is a large, lively but charming town with many old features that will appeal to all. The shops offer a good mixture of both modern and traditional and the many cafes and bars give you a welcomed opportunity to sit in the sun and watch the world go by.

Los Llanos is located central west and has grown larger in population than the island’s capital city of Santa Cruz de la Palma. The lower areas are dominated by bananas with the main part of the town being developed in the higher regions.

The main Plaza España is popular with young and old alike and the church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios, is well worth a visit with beautiful stained glass windows and carved wood throughout. Just behind the main plaza is the Plaza Chica, offering colourful boutiques and cafe’s in a tree-lined area.

With a bus station in the town, regular bus services to Puerto Naos, Tazacorte, El Paso, Santa Cruz, Tijarafe, Puntagorda and Garafia are available so it’s easy to get around. It’s also a popular base for those exploring the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

For the active explorers, Los Llanos is a good place to spend a couple of hours before walking down to the coast of Puerto Tazacorte. You can continue round in a circular route by returning up a steep track through the banana plantations (see our route), double-back towards the town at a suitable point or catch a bus to return from where you began.

Taking the Bus

We travelled to the town by bus from La Palma Princess Hotel, changing at Fuencaliente, then onto Los Llanos bus station and back again later in the evening. The roads are a little windy at times but the bus journey offers an interesting and fairly inexpensive option for travelling that enables everyone to enjoy the scenery without the need for a car. The cost from the hotel with a change at Fuencaliente was around 8 euros per person for a return journey (Feb 2008) and the bus trip was an interesting and enjoyable one with very few passengers!

Honest Reviews by Outdoor Views

We caught the bus to Los Llanos on a lovely, hot sunny day in February and loved it, exploring the area around the main plaza and wandering through some of the shopping areas before starting our (long!) walk to Tazacorte and back again in a circular route.

The interior of the church at Plaza España was beautiful and is well worth a visit. It’s just a small church but with many outstanding features and the surrounding streets and plazas are all worth a look too with beautiful carved balconies and stone walls.

All in all, Los Llanos seemed a very clean, tidy and relaxed place and we liked the general look and feel of it although we didn’t have time to see it all. Similar to Santa Cruz de la Palma, I think it would appeal to all but is a slightly ‘younger’ and more vibrant town in general.