Days out in La Palma can be a little bit different to those on the other Canary Islands. Visits are often more about hiking boots, quiet evenings and incredible scenery than nights out, sun loungers and pristine sand – although, those things are available too!
Like its larger and more popular neighbours, La Palma is an island formed from a volcano rising thousands of metres above the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Its dramatic volcanic origins gave rise to its spectacular geography, which make it such an attractive destination.
Known for its clear night skies for viewing the stars, unbelievable views and quiet, calm atmosphere, La Palma is an excellent place to just relax and take it all in. It also offers scope for seeing and doing things that you can't anywhere else in the world. Here are some pointers from us to help get your holiday underway.
La Palma's location and the height of its volcano make it one of the best places in the world for stargazing – for both professionals and amateurs. At the highest point of La Palma – 2423-metres above sea level – is the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. One of the most important observatories on the planet it is home to the Gran Telescopia Canarias - the world's largest single-aperture telescope.
The best way of reaching it is by car, manoeuvring around hairpin bends and absorbing the amazing views as you go. Once you reach the top you can either take one of several hiking routes, taking in the stars as you go, or be given a guided tour of the telescope itself.
Another way of enjoying the unique skies of La Palma is by taking the Astro La Palma tour, three to four hours of expert explanation about all you can see above. And as well as these more serious options, due to La Palma's strict rules regarding light pollution, you'll be able to see the night sky in unusual clarity wherever you decide to spend your evening.
The Caldera de Taburiente National Park was once believed to be an enormous volcanic crater – and it's easy to see why – but it is actually the largest erosion crater in the world. The shape of this curious landscape is what gives it its name – 'Caldera' means 'cauldron' in Spanish.
With a number of trails to choose from the best way of exploring this incredible natural phenomenon is on foot – be sure to bring a pair of boots and prepare for a long day of walking and absorbing the beauty of this unique and fascinating landscape.
Surrounding the Caldera de Taburiente National Park are mountains rising more than 2000 metres above sea level. The highest point of these is Roque de los Muchachos, home to the biggest observatory in Europe, but also one of the best views anywhere in the world. If it's a cloudy day then you'll find yourself in an unusual situation here – the sky will still be clear as the clouds will be below you. Bring your camera!
La Palma's landscape and variety of microclimates make it a premier spot for paragliding. Paragliding on the island is run by 'Parmaclub', which operates from a launch site above the town of Puerto Naos, with other launch sites dotted around the island. You needn't be experienced to have a go – tandem glides are available for novices, so this unique way of viewing the island is available to anyone.
From up in the sky to below the sea – La Palma is also an excellent place for diving. Year-round temperate waters and excellent visibility lend themselves to underwater pursuits, but it's La Palma's volcanic underwater landscape that makes it really stand out. There are diving spots all around the coast of the island, with the main diving school and information centre in Brena Baja, on the eastern side of the island.
Salinas Marinas de Fuencaliente refers to the salt pans that can be found in the region of Fuencaliente, in the south of La Palma. The whole of this region is worth exploring but a highlight is a tour of the salt pans and the chance to learn about the production of salt, from sea to seasoning. With a restaurant showcasing what can be done with locally produced salt and a bar where you can relax after the tour, this would make an excellent day out during your visit to La Palma.
La Palma's capital has kept its traditional Spanish charm with attractive architecture and the opportunity to visit some interesting museums and learn more about Canarian culture and the history of the island.