The unique experiences of La Gomera, where mild temperatures rarely dip below 18 °C, begin with a short flight or ferry from its larger Canary neighbours, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. Upon stepping foot on La Gomera, visitors are greeted by volcanic cliffs and dramatic ravines that crisscross the island’s lush landscape. From there, La Gomera has something to offer everyone, from beach lovers to adventure seekers to food lovers alike.
Those looking to spend a day on the shore can find one of any style on La Gomera. For something more secluded, visitors will be happy to find that many of the island’s beaches are only accessible by foot. Near the fishing village Playa Santiago on the south coast, Playa del Medio’s gentle surf is perfect for a relaxing day in the sun. In the northeast, just a few kilometres from the town Hermigua, lies Playa de la Caleta, whose crystal clear waters and black sandy shore are amongst the island’s prettiest sights.
Rougher waters can be found between the high cliffs of the north coast, such as at the wind-swept Playa de Vallehermoso, however the Parque Maritimo, an idyllic retreat with salted pools, is a peaceful neighbour and a must visit for families with young children. Closer to the island’s brightly coloured capital, San Sebastián, the isolated coast of Playa de Avalos, cloaked under palm tree groves, provides visitors with a quiet haven in a rural location.
Adventure seekers who enjoy a more active retreat off the beaten path will find a walkers’ paradise on La Gomera’s wide network of trails, whether they prefer to move along at an easy pace or to take a strenuous hike through difficult terrain. Visitors who enjoy history can follow in the footsteps of Christopher Columbus at San Sebastián, the departure point for the Italian explorer’s journey to the New World. At the heart of the island is the mystical Garajonay National Park, one of the oldest laurel forests in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where trekkers can hike through dense evergreens and hardwood trees while witnessing a diverse range of native plants and animals. To the west at Valle Gran Rey, sloping roads curve between valley and sea, flanked by vivid views of rugged mountains, tropical gardens and banana trees. Hikers can also join guided walking tours for a worry-free way to enjoy La Gomera’s striking surroundings.
For those culture vultures, the village of Agulo is home to a historic centre, the rural church of San Marcos, and the picture-perfect viewpoint of Mirador de Abrante. Further south, in the quaint region of Alejeró visitors will be greeted with the beautiful portal of the ancient church of El Salvador, built in 1512 and a paramount part of La Gomera’s history.
After spending time at the beach or traipsing around the island, foodies will find that the exotic flavours of Gomeran cuisine satisfy every taste. Watercress soup, which is served on wooden plates, is a traditional culinary mainstay. Almogrote, a creamy paste made from cheese, peppers, olive oil and herbs, is a deliciously intense appetiser that is usually spread on toast. Papas arrugadas, or boiled potatoes served with a fiery pepper sauce, called Mojo, is a great choice for a hearty meal. Or for something sweeter, Miel de palma, a palm honey made from the sap of the Canary Island Palm tree, is sure to impress.
Bottom line? With everything from year-round sunshine and tranquil beaches to walking trails with breathtaking views, distinctive cuisine and much more, La Gomera is the Canary Islands’ best kept secret for a winter sun escape.
Pictures: La Gomera Tourism