ROL Cruise recommends…
1. Savour spectacular sights – at your own pace
La Palma’s luscious landscape is alive with wonders: rocky ravines, sky-high volcanic peaks, craggy coastlines, exotic vegetation and the seemingly endless Atlantic sea. Within easy striking distance of the port are the dramatic black sand beaches of Bajamar and Los Cancajos. A 20-minute bus ride from Santa Cruz and you’re at the Mirador de la Concepción, overlooking the city and its coastline. Or head out on the island’s 600 miles of footpaths, first grabbing a walking map from the tourist office or booking transport to and from self-guided walks with Natour (natour-trekking.com). Scramble over rocks in the Cubo de La Galga gorge, savour 360 degree views on the way to the laurel forest of Los Tilos, or venture into one of the world's largest volcanic craters, Caldera de Taburiente.
2. Immerse yourself in local history
The Canaries were a stop-off for Columbus and his crew on their 1492 voyage of discovery – a seafaring story celebrated at La Palma Naval Museum. Housed in an impressive scale replica of the explorer’s own ship, the Santa Maria, it’s a short walk from the port and boasts historical maps and documents among its exhibits. A few minutes away is the Museo Insular, formerly a sixteenth century monastery, where historical displays jostle for space with Spanish art. Equally as beautiful are the elaborately carved wooden ceilings and, outside, the mountain view.
3. Enjoy the heat of the moment on the Volcano Route
The island’s most famous hike allows keen walkers to see more spectacular sights in one day than others might manage in a decade. The Volcano Route follows a ridge down the centre of La Palma which rises to more than 1,900m above sea level, offering incredible views in every direction. The 19km walk from El Pilar to Los Canarios takes in mind-blowing volcanoes, imposing pine forests and incredible panoramas of the neighbouring islands. Allow seven hours to complete the walk, whether you’re on an organised tour or have arranged for a taxi at each end.
4. Add sparkle to your life in the Starlight Reserve
Go strolling around La Palma after dusk and you’ll find it hard to watch where you’re heading, as all you’ll want to do is look directly up. That’s because restrictive lighting laws have created one of the best places in the world for stargazing. If the sky is clear, you’ll get decent views virtually anywhere, or make the most of the island named the first Starlight Reserve on Earth by booking a nighttime tour with Astro Camp (astrolapalma.com). Although the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos doesn’t allow nocturnal visits, a daytime trip to La Palma’s highest point still impresses. Fifteen gigantic telescopes line the ridge and you can see above the clouds to Tenerife and La Gomera.