Some of us like to wind down on the beach when we’re on vacation, some of us prefer exploring pastures new, and probably most of us like to do a bit of both. So a ferry ride to another island depends partly into which category you fall. It may seem like too much trouble, compared to, say, a drive around Tenerife.
The ferry from Los Cristianos takes around an hour to cross to the second smallest of the Canary Islands, which is around the same time it takes to get to Santa Cruz or Icod de los Vinos, but there is no doubting that you arrive in a different world. The slower pace of life is evident the moment you land.
If you’ve hired a car, then there are, basically, only two directions in which you can go when you leave San Sebastian, right or left.
Right will take you straight up into mountains, where you cut through a series of tunnels until you arrive in the northwest of the island. This is an area of spectacular mountains and valleys, with graceful palm trees dotting the hillsides. Historically it was the heart of the banana industry, and before that sugar plantations. Nowadays, acres of bananas remain, though nothing like before. Valley floors are a patchwork of allotments, where locals grow maize, potatoes and fruit for their own use or to sell in local markets, and vines trail along terraced hillsides.
Left from San Sebastian takes you through volcanic landscapes, with stunning views of the island of Tenerife on a clear day, and into the Garajonay National Park. These acres of temperate rainforest are living history, the last surviving example of forests once abundant around the Mediterranean. In 2012 devastating forest fires consumed acres of this precious scenery, and recovery will take several lifetimes.
From here you can drop down into Playa Santiago or Valle Gran Rey, the two spots on the island which could be described as touristy, though it’s very low key and laidback.
Both roads will lead you to Valle Hermoso, which means “Beautiful Valley”. Not at all difficult to understand from whence the name came. This village, of something over 3,000, souls nestles in a storybook valley, the surrounding hills are dotted with juniper, and roads too narrow for buses arrive at pretty reservoirs.
On a day trip, taking the first morning and ferry and the last one back in the evening, it’s perfectly feasible to see much of these landscapes in one day, by sticking to the circular route around the island, perhaps checking the map and deciding on one detour, say to the beaches of Valle Gran Rey, those reservoirs in Vallehermoso, or for a lazy lunch in a bar in the north, looking over the breathtaking views towards Tenerife, dominated by Mount Teide.
For me a trip to La Gomera is always a rewarding experience, not as much effort as you might think, and always worth it.
Category : days out
Subscribe : RSS 2.0