La Palma is the steepest island in the world. They say. Well, as I myself live in the flattest country of the world, I believe it.
Me and my husband went to this Canarian island for a walking holiday. Don’t expect that walking here is like making a stroll. It comes nearer to a struggle. But a screaming one! Some walks of only 11 kilometers took us about 7 hours. Because we had to descend and climb several deep ravines, one after the other. In phantasmal tropical nature. So no complaints at all!
We followed the Northern and most exciting part of the GR130 route, the circular coastal path. The GR131 is the circular height path. Local paths link the two.
Our accommodation and luggage transfer we had booked at a travel agency (see information below this post). We walked with our light day packs (picnic lunch, raincoat, water).
Where do you wanna go?
Day one wel walked from Los Tilos (a driver took us up here) to Barlovento through a beautiful wood with giant ferns. Nice starter.
Day two: start of the red-white marked Camino Real. Beautiful subtropical flowers, like Leptospernum, cactus and steep green hills,
We hiked a beautiful but challenging part of the GR130 to Franceses where we stayed in a charming B&B, where we slept in the cutest tiny house.
From up the high slopes to sea level and up again. Several times. We hit about 1500 meters down and the same amount up. But it’s absolutely worthwhile doing it. It was a gorgeous walk through a green fairytale. I feel my knees know and ate a large plate of home made pasta and drank some local wine to recover
Day 3: walk from Franceses to Santo Domingo and back with the bus.
La Palma seems to be an island of diagonal lines.
After a quite exhausting but splendid (nature, views!) walk on the coastal path (more than 2000 meters up and down all together, aaaaah) we arrived a bit dizzy at Santo Domingo to get the bus back. Which only goes every two hours… So we even had to hurry a bit on the end.
Day 4: Santo Domingo to Puntagorda. Green hills, nice village Las Tricias with flowering almond trees. The almond blossom was early this year. On this side of the island there’s hundreds of almond trees, they send great scents in the air.
Day 5 en 6: Puntagorda to Tijarafe and Playa de Tazacorte. Nice villages and not such a heavy walk. You see a lot of amazing flowers like kniphofia (redhotpoker ❤), bougainvillea, hibiscus. When approaching Tazacorte there’s more and more banana plantations, see this fresh banana harvest on the right.
(left above) Friday Flatlay with my path findings of the past two stretches on the hiking track GR130 on La Palma.
Wow! What an enormous laurel tree (Ficus microcarpa) near the church of Tijarafe. Those trees were taken from Cuba around 1860. They do very well here too.
This is an island with quite a few abandoned houses. Nature has taken them over finally. In the fifties, youngsters moved to Cuba and Venezuela – some of them even then still lived in caves – and saw emigration as a way to get more wealth. Which they presumably didn’t find in their new countries either…
In the end, nature takes over, always.
Dragon tree. A mysterious tree that you will find in villages, as if they mark where people live.
Cactus on the road! This is a beautiful walk in steep barrancos and on ditto slopes. The nature is a beauty with plenty of plants, flowers, birds and bees, an occasional butterfly and beetle.
Information about hiking on La Palma
Follow the red-white signs and wear sturdy walking boots. When doing this particular hike, make sure you are fit enough to walk for a few hours and have some mountain walking experience.
We booked our trip with the Dutch travel organisation Stap Reizen, luggage and were transferred when necessary (or we went by bus) and we stayed in nice local hotels, B&B’s and guesthouses.
More Canarian Island blogs
Read about the tropical botanic garden of Tenerife
Extra information on hiking on La Palma
- We hiked a short week on the northern & western part on the GR130, on 3 to 4 day tracks. Very steep, but also very very beautiful. I have a bit of a weak knee and that did hurt after those days of climbing and descending (the worst for a knee).
- You really should have some mountain hike experience for that part, and in summertime: try to avoid the hottest hours and take abundant water with you.
- We did some other hikes on the island and those were moderate mountain hikes. We always use the German (translated to other languages like Dutch and English) Rother hiking guides.
- It is also a good idea to rent a car and just make some loop hikes here and there (with the hiking guide mentioned above). There are also some great hike tours on top of the mountain ridge. Be aware: driving is a challenge on La Palma: steep and loopy…
- La Palma is a pretty island, actually everywhere it is okay to stay, we also slept some nights in the southern part. I have no special recommendations on accommodation or agency. Just Google for ‘Hiking Holiday La Palma’ and look for the organisations that offer luggage transfers. Via AirBnB there’s lots of rooms or houses for rent. Just choose what fits your standard and taste best.
- If you choose to do separate hikes, here and there on the island: choose to stay at Los Llanos or Tazacorte: the first is a charming town with shops, restaurants, and outdoor terraces, the second one is a harbour town with a beach and restaurant and outdoor terraces as well.