So last week I spent a seven days holidaying and relaxing the hell out in La Palma Canary Islands. I am going to be honest with you, I had never given any thought to the Canary Islands as a holiday destination before. Even when it was suggested I was dubious but in the end I thought why the hell not try somewhere new. We wanted a winter sun spot, somewhere that wasn’t too far and just easy. I wanted a switch off to the world adventure. Nothing fancy, no Instagrammable brunch marble topped tables (for once ey). Just me, the sea, some hiking and time out.
Once I had finally agreed on Canary Islands, we then decided out of all the islands to head to La Palma. It was one of the smaller islands and is known for being one of the greener lusher ones….you guys know how much I love plants and greenery right so a natural choice. It’s also got beautiful volcanic landscape which makes for epic walks and hiking…..all ze mountains.
I wanted to stay on one of the less touristy islands, Canary islands is known for Tenerife and Lanzarote right. But had you ever heard of La Palma or La Gomera…both Canary Islands known for their beauty and dramatic landscape. Nope me neither. I wanted to visit both but in the end stuck with La Palma as you could fly direct from Gatwick (very reasonable flights as well!).
Accommodation wise, we stayed in an Airbnb as their weren’t that many hotels really and we fancied our own place. So got a tiny cottage in the middle of no where. You need a car FYI as everything is driving distance. It was simple, the decoration quite dated but it did the job and became our little home for the week. We made breakfast every morning and sat in the sun filled patio then hopped in our car for a day of adventures. There are loads of airbnbs and holiday home/cottage rentals on the island so if a do it yourself vibe is something you fancy then its ideal.
Weather…it was sunny every day and around 22-23 degrees, meaning it was perfect for sunbathing and I pretty much lived in swimwear and shorts. The evenings did get colder so needed a jumper or jacket once the sun goes down.
What surprised me was how quiet it was, we found so many deserted coves, beaches, walks, natural pools. No where was busy or touristy so kind of felt like we had the place to ourselves which I loved. It had an undiscovered feel to it, all the locals spoke Spanish…handy to know some if you are heading out FYI.
What I loved is how much my opinion of the Canary Islands changed. I kind of thought of them as a crappy holiday destination (soz Tenerife for judging you) but what I found was a tiny non touristy spot perfect for winter sun and some stunning finds.
If you are after somewhere glam this is not the one, there’s no beautiful swanky restaurants or beach clubs. There is however craggy dramatic landscape, beautiful nature and sunshine. Food wise there are tiny pizza places looking over banana plantations where you can watch the sunset. Or seafood restaurants right on the beach. It has a slow relaxed vibe, lots of hippies and older people (mainly keen hikers). I did my research and found some great little spots. I forgot real life and felt myself unwind and switch off and just felt happy and content and that’s all I wanted from my trip.
So a few top places and recommendations below:
Where to stay: There are two sides of the island weather wise, the sunnier calmer West side which is where we stayed. The sea seems calmer here for swimming and paddleboarding and it gets a lot more sun. We stayed in a tiny village near Los Llanos, which was an ideal location to get to everywhere. It was driving distance from good beaches, mountains, hikes the lot.
Getting around: Be prepared to drive a lot though, car hire isn’t expensive but you’d be seriously stuck without it!
Beaches: Tazacorte was our nearest beach, the beaches are all black volcanic sands. It’s a good place to sunbathe and chill, there is paddleboard hire and Kayaking as well (my dream) and a few hikes around there. Food wise there are a few beach side restaurants which seemed popular, serving fish and pizza etc. We also found a few hidden beaches when we explored the Natural pools on the other side of the island, these were stunning and we stumbled across them so can’t remember their names (sorry useless blogger) but you couldn’t swim there as the rocks and waves were too much! Damn pretty though.
Natural Pools: On the other side of the island there are two natural pools set into the rocks. One called Charco Azul and the other La Fajana. The waves are a lot choppier here so you can’t swim at the beaches so these natural pools means you can safely swim in what feels like the sea. With incredible mountain views and waves crashing into the pools it makes for a very dramatic dip! I loved our day exploring these beautiful pools and highly recommend a day trip.
Secret Coves: after a bit of research I found a beautiful hidden pirate cove near by us near a town called Tijarafe. The drive was pretty insane, very windy steep mountain roads. We drove there, parked up and hiked down. It was deserted when we arrived and we spent the day exploring the coves, near by beaches and hikes then finally sat and had a picnic in the sun. It was by far my favourite discovery of the trip. We had the whole place to ourself and it was just insanely beautiful.
Mountain hikes: There are hikes at every corner of this island, literally the whole place is a hike. We stumbled across so many but one of the days we decided to actually head into the national park and climb a mountain. We chose Pico Benjando for our hike, it was recommended loads online as a great hike, beautiful views etc. We drove to Mirador de la Cumbrecita before…you have to book parking prior FYI which can be done online as parking is limited. Then we hiked to the top…I didn’t time it but it took around 3 and a half hours round hike. We had a good pace and it was steep at parts but nothing too crazy. It’s challenging but do able. Once we got above the clouds I had to put on an extra jumper as the temperature drops. I was really proud of that hike and the views climbing up the mountains were insane over the valley…once we got to the top it was all cloud ha.
Boat/Dolphin/Whale watching: So I had no idea but the Canary islands have ALL the sea life, I am talking dolphins, turtles, whales etc. My inner sea baby was super excited…have I mentioned I like the sea? No…weird, swear I talked about it on IG about 100 times. That said, on our last day we booked a boat trip. There were only 3 boat trip options, so we were feeling fancy and chose the biggest one with the least people (coz I am secretly very anti social!) It was more of an old school sailing boat with a deck you could sunbathe on. They took us around the coves and dropped anchor so we could go for a swim and snorkel. Then after lunch on our way back we came across a load of dolphins…they swam right by the boat and were huge. I was literally hanging over the boats edge and was so damn happy. I have never seen a dolphin that close before and it was magical. They are such stunning creatures it made my heart so happy seeing them swimming alongside the boat jumping out the waves. Dream day.
Food: Now I am not going to lie there aren’t many great foodie places, we went on a lot of road trips and packed a lot of snacks and picnics from local supermarkets which I loved. But one of my favourite places we did find was…..Venezia Pizza in Tazacorte. Simple little Pizzeria with a seating area across the road over looking the banana plantations which are all over the islands, beaches and mountains. Came here for my birthday dinner, ate all the pizza and drunk all the aperol spritz…naturally. The pizza was so tasty and I loved this little spot!
So yes that’s my roundup, I wasn’t planning on doing a blog post on this holiday as it was purely no work, read my book and chill out. So I don’t have photos and details of all the places and areas as sometimes I just didn’t bring my camera or phone or just forgot to take pictures. So sorry if its not as precise as normal! But so many people have asked questions on where we stayed, what we did etc. It seems silly for me to keep this little hidden gem to myself right?! La Palma, I went with no real expectations and you came up trumps. What a delightful little island. No frills, nothing fancy just sunshine, sea, mountains and all the greenery.