Spain Guide

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La Palma Car Hire

If you're not heavily into hiking you'll probably want to hire a car or jeep for at least part of your holiday so you can explore La Palma's volcanic interior and rugged coastline.

Standard cars, cabriolets and 4x4s are all available for hire here. Don't expect motorways and fast, straight roads though. There are only three kilometres of dual carriageway (between the airport and Santa Cruz); the rest of the roads are well surfaced but winding and hilly, generally following the contours of the mountains.

Most roads are asphalt and well maintained but be warned that whilst many give spectacular views there are not always safe places to stop and admire the scenery. For safety reasons, and to avoid upsetting the locals who are just going about their normal daily business, pull aside to let cars behind you pass if you're on a leisurely sightseeing trip.

Don't forget that this island's survival doesn't rely on tourism and local people can get very irritated with international visitors who block the road to marvel at the scenery. Some of the most beautiful areas of the coastline and interior can only be reached via rough dirt tracks but before you head off on an expedition into the unknown, be aware that your hire car insurance may not cover you for going off road.

With the freedom of a car you'll be able to visit the three main tourist centres of Los Cancajos on the east coast and Puerto Naos and Tazacorte on the west side of the island. Explore the capital, Santa Cruz, and the Aridane Valley where you'll find the attractive town of Los Llanos. Sit in the town's plaza under the shade of the laurel trees and enjoy a local fiesta, concert or simply people watching over a glass of the local wine.

Take a trip to the El Time viewpoint which gives spectacular views of the national park of Caldera del Taburiente, the world's biggest erosion crater.

Cueva Bonita, close to Tijarafe, is a beautiful grotto well worth visiting. Or spend a day swimming and sunbathing in the natural seawater swimming pools of "Piscinas la Fajana" near Barlovento in the north.

These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself before choosing your car hire company:

  • If you've booked the car to be waiting for you on arrival, you'll want to know if the company will arrange for a representative to meet you. There's nothing worse than arriving in the middle of the night to find no car.and no one to complain to! Or will they deliver the car to your hotel with no extra charge?
  • Does the company give a commitment on the quality of its cars are they, for example, all under a certain age?
  • Will you have to pay the local IVA tax (Spanish VAT) of 16% or is it included in the price?
  • Does the company offer "no quibble" insurance to cover such things as collision damage and theft? Is unlimited third party insurance and basic personal accident damage for the driver and occupants included?
  • Will you have to pay an "excess" charge in the event of an accident?