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The viewpoint of Roque de Los Muchachos is above the clouds.

Island of La Palma: “La Isla Bonita” of the Canary Islands

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Have you ever heard of La Palma? You may be thinking of La Palma de Mallorca, but this is actually the island of La Palma. One of the Canary Islands, it is locally known as "La Isla Bonita", meaning "the pretty island". 


Last year in 2021, the island of La Palma suffered a tragic volcanic eruption, devastating a large area of the Island. Now they are recovering, and the island is welcoming tourists to explore again! Each Canary Island has its own charm, and La Palma certainly does live up to that. Keep reading and you'll learn why! 


Let's jump right in! Here is everything you need to know about visiting the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.

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Where is the Island of La Palma?

La Palma is one of Canary Islands, which are located off the coast of Northern Africa (belonging to Spain). It is situated in the north west corner of the archipelago, and can be seen on the map below.

Where is La Palma Island

La Palma is the north western most island of the Canary Islands.


How to Get to the Island of La Palma

La Palma can be reached both by flight and ferry. Additionally, the island of La Palma is on quite a few cruise ship itineraries.


Getting to the Island of La Palma by Flight

The Island of La Palma receives the most of its traffic from the island of Tenerife, and a few flights from Gran Canaria (Las Palmas). You can also find domestic flights from Madrid through Iberia.


As far as International flights, there are a few cities in Europe that do fly direct to La Palma. These include London, Manchester, and Geneva. The airport is located right outside the capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma, and the code is SPC.


Make sure to search for flights to "Santa Cruz de la Palma". La Palma refers to the island of Mallorca, and Las Palmas refers to the island of Gran Canaria.


Getting to the Island of La Palma by Ferry

Another popular way to get to the island of La Palma is by ferry. There are two companies in the market that serve the Canary Islands, and they are Fred Olsen and Armas Navarrias. 


La Palma has one direct ferry to and from La Gomera through Armas Navarrias,. There are also several direct ferries from Tenerife with Fred Olsen and Armas. The ferry from La Gomera is at 7 am, and doesn't happen every day, so make sure you check schedules beforehand.


There is one ferry terminal in La Palma, and it is located in the capital of Santa Cruz de la Palma. It is walking distance from the historical center, and tickets can be purchased in the office or online.


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Entry Requirements for the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are part of Spain, so all of the requirements are the exact same. Chances are you'll be coming to La Palma from another part of Spain, so you won't really have to worry about additional requirements. Nevertheless, we will share all you need to know.


Visa Requirements for the Canary Islands

When it comes to visas for Spain, many countries have a free 90 day stay in the European Union. Keep in mind the 90/180 rule, if you are planning on traveling to other countries within the Schengen Zone. You can only spend 90/180 days in the countries of the EU in total.


For example, we are spending 2 months in the Canary Islands, and one month in mainland Spain, which means we need to stay outside of the Schengen Zone for 90 days, avoiding any countries that are in this part of Europe.


Covid Entry Requirements for the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands happen to be a little behind with things when it comes to Covid. While many countries are easing restrictions, things are still pretty strict in this chain of islands.


They are still using masks inside, and we even had to wear our masks inside the one night club in La Palma. You will find that many people still wear masks amongst each other even outside at times.


In order to enter Spain you need to be fully vaccinated, or to show a negative PCR test or a certificate saying you've recovered from Covid. Vaccination cards are valid from 270 days of issue. If it has expired you will need to get the booster before traveling to Spain.


Update: As of April 22nd, 2022 there are no longer madates for wearing masks indoors. However, it is still required on public transportation.

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Local Adjustments

Here are some of the basic things to adjust yourself to visiting the Canary Islands, and Spain in general.


Language

The official language of the Canary Islands is Spanish. However, the accent on the islands is quite different than mainland Spain, and sounds much more like Spanish from islands of the Caribbean.


A few words differ as well, such as bus, which is called "guagua". You will also find that the island of La Palma has many British and German visitors. So it is common to find signs, menus, and such in both English and German.


Currency

The official currency of the Canary Islands is the same as the rest of Spain- the euro. Right now (March 2022) every USD is equivalent t0 .90 euros, and every GDP is equivalent to 1.2 euros. Credit cards are accepted in most establishments, so you won't need much cash while on the island.


Outlets

The electrical outlets in the Canary Islands are the same as in the rest of Spain, and all over the EU. They use plug types C, E, & F.  La Palma operates on 230V with a standard frequency of 50Hz.


Is the Water Potable?

In some islands (even in the Canary Islands) the water is not suitable for drinking. However, the tap water in La Palma is potable, and totally safe for drinking.

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Food & Drink in the Island of La Palma

The Canary Islands have a great mix of Spanish cuisine, as well as their own specialities. Some of our favorite things that you should try include:



Seafood: Take advantage of the fresh catches in the area.

Mojo: There are a few types of mojo, which is a typical Canarian sauce served on the table with bread, made of garlic. Usually you'll find the red one (made with pepper) and the green one (cilantro based).

Papas Arrugadas: These small round potatoes are served as a starter or side, and mostly come with mojo to be dipped in.

Conejo: Rabbit is a very popular dish served in the Canary Islands, and is usually cooked in a home made sauce or entirely fried.

Cabra: Goat is another common animal served in restaurants, and usually cooked in the sauce of the house.


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Things to Do on the Island of La Palma

The island of La Palma is small, but It definitely has much more to do than you would think! Here are some awesome things to add to your list while visiting.


Visit the Natural Pools

The island of the La Palma has some really incredible natural pools that we suggest you to check out! Unfortunately, when we went, they were completely overflowed due to the immense waves crashing down into them. However, they were beautiful to see nonetheless.


Some of the best natural pools can be found in the northeast of the island such as La Fajana and Church Azul, or you can find some smaller ones along the coast of the region of Garafia. You can also head to Fuencaliente, where there are quite a few natural  pools awaiting.

Charco Azul natural pool, island of La Palma
Charco Azul, island of La Palma
Charco Azul, island of La Palma

Some of the best natural pools are at Charco Azul.

Take a tour around the north with the natural pools included:

Check Out the Fishing Villages

One of the wildest thing about the island of La Palma is that there are small houses that are built right into the cliffs and mountainsides!


There are a few fishing villages that are built right on the seaside of the cliffs, and they are truly jaw-dropping.


Two of the ones we visited were Puerto Punta Gorda and Poris de Candelaria, both in the northwest of the island. For us, Poris de Candelaria is absolutely a must-see while in La Palma, and a great place to swim in the summertime.

Poris de Candelaria, La Palma
Poris de Candelaria, La Palma Island
Poris de Candelaria, La Palma Island

Poris de Candelaria is a small fishing village in a cave.

Go to the Black Sand Beaches

One of our favorite thing to do in the Canary Islands is to enjoy the array of stunning black sand beaches. La Palma has quite a few great ones to check out. 


We personally love Los Nogales, which is north of Santa Cruz, Tazacorte on the west coast (great for sunset), and the few beaches scattered through the southern tip of Fuencaliente.


Walk Through the Rainforest

One of the best spots to visit in La Palma is Los Tilos. This park is free of charge to enter, and is best reached by car. There are a few trails and viewpoints you can check out. The main highlight is the waterfall, which is just a short 10-20 minute hike.

Los Tilos, La Palma Island
Los Tilos, La Palma Island

Take a tour that includes Los Tilos:

Go on a Hike

The island of La Palma is full of natural beauty, and hiking allows you to get some spectacular views of what the volcanos have to offer. 


Head to Caldera de Taburiente for a one hour trail visiting 3 viewpoints of the greenery in the crater, or trek deeper to discover the Cascada de Colores, which multicolored rocks surrounding waterfalls. Fuencaliente also has a great hike that is 3 hours walking along black volcano rock down to the salt pools, which we'll talk further about in a moment.

hiking around the island of La Palma

There are tons of beautiful hikes around the island of La Palma.


Admire the Views

Being that the island of La Palma is very mountainous, it's no wonder that there are a ton of great viewpoints! We suggest just driving and stopping at whichever ones you can, as they are marked with a camera icon, and pretty easy to come by.


Some of the popular viewpoints are Mirador del Time (outside Los Llanos), Mirador de la Cumbre (inside Caldera de Taburiente), and Mirador de la Concepcion, which overlooks the whole capital of Santa Cruz city and port.


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Walk Above the Clouds

Speaking of viewpoints, this is our absolute favorite one! Roque de los Muchachos is the highest point of the island, and if you're lucky, you'll be able to find yourself above an entire blanket of clouds.


We think it's truly a stunning place to visit at any time of the day. Leave yourself time to enjoy the blue skies, golden sunset, or the sky lighting up with stars.

Roque de los Muchachos at sunset.
sunset at Roque de los Muchachos
Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma island

The viewpoint of Roque de Los Muchachos is above the clouds.

Explore Astrology

Right up where Roque de los Muchachos, you can find several astronomy observatories. That is because there is no light pollution, and you can really appreciate the stars at their best up there. The area really will make you feel like you are on another planet.


Learn about the stars, take in some stunning views, or try  astrophotography for some epic photos with the Milky Way. 

Astronomy on the island of La Palma

At the top of the island there is a number of stations for astronomy.

Take an astronomy tour on La Palma:

Check Out the Salt Pools and Lighthouse of Fuencaliente

One of our favorite areas of the island is Fuencaliente, the southern tip of La Palma.


Fuencaliente is a great place to spend a full day, as you can enjoy the salt pools and lighthouse. We suggest going for sunset and having a drink or a nice meal at the restaurant at the bottom.

Check which days are open, as hours and days of operation vary greatly in the Canary Islands. The restaurant is not open every day.

While you're in Fuencaliente, you should also check out the small beaches scattered along the western tip of the island. We loved Playa y Bajas de la Zamora for it's little restaurant perched above the beach, and El Aljibe for it's small natural pools.

Fuencaliente Light House, island of La Palma
Fuencaliente, island of La Palma
Fuencaliente salt ponds, island of La Palma

Fuencaliente has a great hike, lighthouse, and salt ponds.

Explore Fuencaliente by bike:

Stroll Around the Colorful Cities

We visited La Palma right after visiting El Hierro, where there were no real cities. Santa Cruz, the capital, has a very cute historical area worth checking out, and Los Llanos is also a great city to enjoy.

Santa Cruz de la Palma, island of La Palma
streets of Santa Cruz de la Palma
Balconies Santa Cruz de La Palma

The historical center of Santa Cruz de la Palma is super colorful.

The historical center of Santa Cruz de la Palma is super vibrant, and is famous for its typical balconies full of flowers. You can also head to Tazacorte for the small colorful village that it offers, and the beach area with shops and restaurants lined right above the black sands.

colorful town of Tazacorte, island of La Palma


Visit the Local Markets

We also loved the local market right next to the Aqueducto de Argual (aqueduct of Argual). Every Sunday morning you can find local vendors selling their arts, crafts, and antiques. If you're looking to take home a souvenir or something unique, then this is your place.

market in Tazacorte, island of La Palma
market in Tazacorte, La Palma
market in Tazacorte, La Palma

Every Sunday there is a market in Tazacorte.

Buy Volcanic Jewelry

When the volcano erupted in La Palma, the tourism of the island took a huge hit. Now the island is open again, and one of the most unique souvenir you can get is jewelry made from the volcanic rock that was left from the eruption.


Not only the jewelry super different an beautiful, but it supports the local businesses across the island.


Our personal favorite shop was right in the center of the capital, called Artesania Chandy. The jewelry is stunning, affordable, and handmade by a family that has been living in La Palma for decades.

jewelry shop La Palma
jewelry shop in La Palma
Jewelry shop in Santa Cruz de La Palma

Artesania Chandy is a local shop with volcano jewelry.


Moving Around the Island of La Palma

La Palma is definitely most easily navigable by car. Rental car companies can be found in the capital of Santa Cruz, at the airport, and in the second biggest city of Los Llanos. The roads are well paved, but can be very windy, so we suggest getting a smaller car to get around.

Driving in the island of La Palma
Driving in the island of La Palma
Driving in the island of La Palma

Driving around the island of La Palma you experience some stunning scenery.

It's important to note that due to the volcanic eruption, some of the roads are closed connecting Los Llanos (the west side of the island) to Fuencaliente (the south of the island). So if you want to visit the south of La Palma, ignore Google Maps, and go through Santa Cruz to get there.


If you don't want to rent a car, you can still get around by public transportation, known as the "guagua" or the bus. It services many of the main areas of La Palma, and there are also taxis found in the most popular areas.


Where to Stay in La Palma

The two best places to stay in La Palma are in the cities of Santa Cruz and Los Llanos. They are in areas where you can easily walk to restaurants, shops, and supermarkets, and are both well connected with the rest of the island.


Los Llanos is located close to the west coast, where you can enjoy warmer weather, great sunsets, and some awesome restaurants. Santa Cruz is located near the airport. and is where the port is. It is a great place to be able to easily get almost anywhere on the island, and has plenty to offer (although the weather can be temperamental).


Book a place to stay in Los Llanos:

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If you are a young or solo traveler, we suggest staying in Hostelit, which is an affordable capsule hostel located right in the center. They offer free breakfast, have a balcony, and it's clean and well equipped.


Want to see other options for staying in Santa Cruz de La Palma? Just take a look at the map:

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Is the Island of La Palma Safe?

La Palma, just like the rest of the Canary Islands, is a very safe place to travel for families, women, and solo travelers. Many may wonder is the island of La Palma is safe due to the eruption that happened. The volcano erupted quite a bit ago, and doesn't appear to have any more activity coming up to worry about.

Island of La Palma Volcano

The island of La Palma was devastated by a volcano, but is now very safe to visit.

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Other Things to Know About Visiting the Island of La Palma

Now you know the best things to do around the island of La Palma, how to get around, and the best foods to try. So here are a few other things to know when visiting.


The Best Time to Visit the Island of La Palma

The Canary Islands are pretty great to visit year round! However, we found that of all the islands, we wished we would have went a little later in the spring. This is because it gets pretty cold in the mountains, and the waves are so strong they overflow the natural pools that the island of La Palma is so well known for.


One thing we can appreciate though is that we were able to see a pretty unique formation at roque de los muchachos. Being so high up in the mountains, the entire area was covered in frost and icicles, giving it a pretty stunning look. However, it was extremely windy and cold, making it pretty difficult to enjoy the area to its full potential.

frozen roque de los muchachos, weather in La Palma
astronomy site, island of La Palma
frozen roque de los muchachos, weather on the island of la Palma

The top of Roque de los Muchachos is covered in frost in the winter months.

Weather & Packing for the Island of La Palma

The weather is pretty warm in the winter compared to the rest of Europe, and you can definitely get some beach days in! If you visit at this time, you will want to be ready for any kind of weather.


Being that the island is very hilly, the weather changes dramatically. Our one piece of advice is to layer up, and bring a swimsuit, sneakers, and jacket to be prepared for the different types of landscapes and climates.


One day we were lying on the beach in the morning, and then later drove up to the highest point of the island, where it was freezing. So make sure you are prepared for every season when visiting the island of La Palma.


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La Palma truly lives up to its name "The Pretty Island". The volcano is mesmerizing, and there is a variety of landscapes for its visitors to enjoy.


We spent one week on the island, and felt that it was more than enough to enjoy what La Palma has to offer. Planning on visiting the other Canary Islands? Make sure to check out what the other islands have to offer!


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