Spain Guide

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La Palma Canary Islands

La Palma is one of the Spanish Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean 200 kilometres west of the coast of Morocco. This is widely regarded as being the most beautiful and unspoilt of the five main holiday islands. Tourism development has been strictly won't even find a McDonald's here! If it's bangers and mash and all night foam parties you're after, you'll be better off in Tenerife.

The island is just 30 kilometres across at its widest point and less than 50 kilometres long. Flying time from London is four hours; there are also air connections to Tenerife, Gran Canaria and mainland Spain.

Unlike the livelier islands in the archipelago, La Palma doesn't depend on tourism for its survival. There are no bustling seafront promenades lined with high rise hotels, no Ibiza style nightclubs to attract the attention of the British fact there's little to do here at all except enjoy the peace and natural beauty of the place.

The island is popular with Dutch, German and, to a lesser extent, British visitors who come here for walking holidays or to simply "chill out" away from the madding crowds of Spain's busier holiday spots.

And talking of chilling out don't expect the near perfect climate that you'll find on the neighbouring islands. La Palma is much greener and wetter than the "big four" (Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Fuerteventura). It can rain here for several days at a time and visitors expecting a cloudless sky will be disappointed by frequent grey skies and mists.

It's a common mistake to believe that the Canaries, because they're part of Spain, are in the Mediterranean. In fact they're in the Atlantic the nearest land west of La Palma is Brazil! Consequently you must expect decidedly chilly seas in the winter and often rough waves.

La Palma, needless to say, doesn't attract a wealth of Baywatch babes. But nature lovers and eco tourists will fall in love with this very "untouristy" tourist destination which offers a fascinating landscape of volcanic mountains, rugged cliffs, black beaches and lush tropical vegetation.

Relax on one of the volcanic beaches (if there's more than 50 people around you, you'll know it's a local fiesta!). Explore the island on foot, sample some delicious Canarian cuisine and the local wines or stroll through the narrow alleyways of the charming town of Santa Cruz.

The island is divided into three main tourist areas the "busiest" of which is Los Cancajos on the east coast, near the airport. The resort (but remember we're not talking Torremolinos or Benidorm here!) has a few bars and restaurants and several hotels which, in general, are cheaper than the holiday accommodation available on the west coast.

The mountainous ridge which splits the island into two sections provides an impressive backdrop to Cancajos; to the east you can see Tenerife and the small island of Gomera. Get up early enough and you'll be able to enjoy some truly spectacular sun rises.

Puerto Naos and Tazacorte on the west coast enjoy a warmer climate. The majority of holiday accommodation here is provided within self catering apartments.