La Isla Bonita

No wonder La Palma is called La Isla Bonita – The Beautiful Island. Palm trees, banana plantations, gigantic ferns, dragon trees, pine woods, vineyards and laurius trees all conspired to beautifully disguise this reversed Xmas tree shaped volcanic island. The gaily coloured houses resemble Christmas decorations. To complete the picture, the star decoration would be the beautiful salinas at the southern extreme of the island.

Las Salinas de Fuencaliente

Although sunny throughout the year and abundant in sea life, La Isla Bonita is not exactly the ideal place for sun seekers. This is mainly because it lacks the much sought after golden sandy beaches. These are replaced by black volcanic sand beaches. This is not a bad thing as the island attracts outdoors enthusiasts instead – less numerous than the sun seekers.

During our friends’ one week visit we took full advantage of their company and of the hired car to explore the inland’s beauty. 

A day out sailing on the west coast of La Isla Bonita


Luna taking a nap at sea after a copious bbq


Happy times


Luna enjoying Sorin’s harvest on the way back from Roque de Los Muchachos

The National Park La Caldera de Taburiente, one of the island’s main attractions, is impressive. The La Caldera crater, displaying an incredibly abrupt mountainous landscape, has a well cared for network of footpaths, with various levels of difficulty. These will always meander amongst some sort of green oasis and lead to breathtaking vista points. 

Vista from Los Tilos

The island’s skyline is topped by Roque de los Muchachos that boldly rises to 2,442 meters above sea level from its base 4,000 meters below sea level. The ‘volcanists’ are being kept on their toes with the last eruption (dating 1971) still in living memory…

Roque de Los Muchachos, the highest pick, raising to almost 2,500 meters

According to experts, it is only a matter of time before the entire western part of the island detaches itself from the rest and slides catastrophically into the Atlantic! It is true that there is a feeling of precariousness as one explores the island but still hard to imagine such natural disaster…

The main part of the National Park is the head of the Barranco (ravine) de Las Angustias, a semi-circular ravine 8 km in diameter and 2,000 meters from top to bottom; this resembles a gigantic volcanic crater (‘caldera’). The top is punctuated by fascinating crests (‘roques’), the result of uneven erosion of the diverse volcanic materials. 

Los roques seen from our campsite

We camped overnight in the ravine surrounded by the ‘roques’ and admired the extraordinary quality of the pollution free skies. It was a challenge to reach the deserted campsite. Sorin drove for about 15 km on a very narrow single lane twisted road along the deep ravine to reach a tiny parking; luckily there was one parking spot available. We left the car there and we walked for over 5 km to reach a small and empty campsite by a river. Since we arrived there without pre-authorisation (from the Park authorities) we were asked to obtain it online there and then.

We had the sweetest sleep in a long time under the starry skies, lullabied by the meandering river. Paradise! The next day Sorin told me that he fell asleep worrying that the huge rock behind the tent may collapse on us overnight…I could only feel grateful that he had not shared that thought with me. Saved me from a sleepless night!

Sorin putting away the camping gear

The following day we walked on a river bed and amongst daunting rocks to reach the picturesque Cascada de Colores. Water is scarce throughput the island and this is not really a cascade, but a water stream along a rocky wall containing dissolved ferrous salts; these turn the water course a ruddy orange colour. 

On the way to Cascada de Colores

A not so happy Ana, hating to have wet feet on the river bed to the ‘waterfall’


Cascada de Colores (The Waterfall of Colours)

Our friends and their 1.5 year old daughter, Luna, were a delightful company; well for most of the time as Luna did not always agree with our long drives and late evenings. 

We sealed the end of their vacation with a bonito (small tuna) feast and baked bananas for desert. Surely the local rum was not missing, which meant that I fell asleep on their couch after the second glass of Cuba Libre! Thank you for the lovely time, dear friends!

Enjoying the Bonito sashimi prepared by our host

The universe must have taken offence on them leaving the island so soon, as since Saturday (when they flew back to England), the skies opened throwing on us torrential rain, howling winds and an upset and hungry ocean that completely swallowed the local beach (waves of between 6 and 9 meters).

We are now actively waiting (lots of prep work!) for things to settle to untie the lines, hoist the sails and head south west with the Trade Winds across the pond, to cover a distance of about 4,800 km. 

First pick at the world paper chart bought back in Falmouth, ahead of our voyage
Rental car (not ours!) damaged by a rock fall after a rainy day

13 thoughts on “La Isla Bonita”

    1. Hey Clem, quelle joie de t’ecrire et merci pour ta company virtuelle a travers l’ocean. C’etait une bonne traversee et on est maintenant en Martinique. Qu’est ce que c’est beau!!!! Bisous a vous deux

    2. Ahhh, pas de spear fishing…mais des Bon resultats avec la canne a peche sur l’ocean! On vas te dire quand on a mis les videos sur you tube

  1. Hello Ana and Sorin, it is always good to read your stories of your travels. You both look very fit and well. This travelling obviously suits you both! I understand though how hard it is to make it work well. The photos showing all the areas, not always seen as a tourist, that you send are fascinating! keep safe and well you two and good sailing.

    1. Hello our sailing friends. We just arrived in Martinique, after a 3 weeks and 1 day sailing…the island (the shores really!) looks fantastic. Can’t wait to explore and share! Lots of love and happy holidays!

  2. oh my god this is truly amazing. these views are incredible and you guys look so relaxed and in heaven. Ok now i am truly very jealous!!! Even the salad and the bonito sashimi- is this the most luxury part of your trip!? #weljel. all my love to you both!

    1. Love back our gypsy friend. I saw that you were up to lots of travelling lately. Can’t wait to catch up! Bisous de Martinique ?

  3. Super bien décrit. Et maintenant cap sur la Martinique. On va continuer de vous suivre dans ce beau voyage les amis

  4. Ana and Sorin – we read about massive waves hitting Tenerife. Sounds like you experienced part of this storm. We assume you were tucked away in a nice cosy harbour somewhere. We are waiting for the pond adventure. Good luck.
    Bruce & Cath

    1. Bruce and Cath, we left Marina Tazacorte in La Palma just after the storm. Had a fantastic crossing, mostly enjoyable with some difficult moments, but nothing one would not expect across an ocean. We will update the site soon and we have some lovely movies that we will share on YouTube. Have a happy festive season!

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