In the heart of the Atlantic Ocean sits the calm and peaceful La Gomera Island. Surrounded by towering rock walls, this subtropical paradise looks like an impermeable piece of land. The island, seen from up close though, is incredibly charming with its mist-shrouded Laurel forest, soaring volcanic rock formations, and breathtaking cliffs.
Although often overshadowed by its bigger neighbors Tenerife and Gran Canaria, La Gomera is one of the most privileged in the Canary Islands. Wind, sea, and rain have worked together as architects and carved out the beautiful island landscape.
Gorgeous and pristine areas seemingly untainted by mass tourism compensate for the lack of long, golden beaches and commercial attractions. British pubs, upscale hotels, and neon strips are as uncommon as the cold weather here. With all La Gomera has to offer, this tiny lozenge of land is a haven of peace and suits those wishing to escape the bustle of the larger resorts.
UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve
The landscape of La Gomera is as vast and varied as it gets. In the heart of the island, verdant forest wraps the fire and laurel trees with mist and water. On the rim, rugged mountainous slopes dominate the scene. 2,000 plant species and diverse animal population find refuge on this unique terrain, some of them endemic to the Canary Islands. Its natural qualities and enormous variety of ecosystem located in 146 square miles of land are a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve since 2012.
However, the natural landscape is not the only thing that’s unique to La Gomera. Loud, high-pitched whistles welcome visitors to this treasure island. The intriguing Gomeran whistling language, known as El Silbo, is easily recognizable as it travels great distances to deliver messages. Whatever it is they want to convey, there are whistled words to express it. In 2009, UNESCO declared the one of a kind language as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Things to See
In La Gomera, there’s more than meets the eye. The island does not offer the typical tourist resort trappings of golden beaches or a lively nightlife. But what it offers is a perfect escape and a myriad of activities that revolve around its culture, traditions and natural wonders.
Natural Wonders and National Park
Tangled rainforest and volcanic mountain ridges await visitors of La Gomera. As such, walking is the island’s bread and butter. Whether the adventure is deep within the Lauri Silva forest or up a mountain peak, visitors will surely find a surprise at each corner of the island.
Garajonay National Park
When dinosaurs lived, thick green laurel forests thrived in many parts of the world. Today, these forests can only be found in Garajonay National Park and a few other countries. As such, the protected 4000-hectare National Park gives more value to the pristine beauty of La Gomera.
Viewed from Google Maps, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the large green area in the middle of the island. As if being guarded against the outside world, steep slopes surround this gem. And just like the island, this park is also not so impassable. In between rolling hills and mountains are openings that serve as entry points and roads that cross through the park.
One of the park’s highlights is El Cedro. Stepping into this inner forest is like being transported to a fairytale world, where tangled trees have lives of their own. Follow the hairpin bends and witness El Chorro de El Cedro, the highest waterfall on the island.
Los Roques Natural Monument
When visiting Garajonay National Park, guests will surely not miss the impressive natural rock formations on the entrance. These monuments are astounding examples of intrusive volcanic landforms that were only made visible by continuous erosion. These imposing rocks, set amidst the deep green forest canopy, bless the landscape with their majesty.
Head to the Los Roques Viewpoint for a sweeping view of the monuments. Here, visitors can enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets made even more dramatic by the rocks silhouettes. Be a witness to this stunning natural phenomenon and watch the sun splashes wonderful shades of red to everything its light touches.
Los Organos Natural Monument
To experience the best of La Gomera’s land and water attractions, head out to the northern coast of Vallehermoso. Here, a short boat trip will take visitors to the fascinating Los Organos Natural Monument. This stunning natural attraction is an imposing volcanic sea cliff that rises to 700 meters high. Sculpted by nature and shaped like a church organ, this monument is a sight to behold.
Set in the southeastern town of Chipude, La Fortaleza is one of the most recognizable images of La Gomera because of its flat mountain top. This impressive rock formation is as mysterious as it is magical when experienced up-close.
Since the ancient times, the monument was held in high regard and deeply sacred to the residents of the island. Its mountaintop houses 25 stone-made sacrificial arches. A great church that has the sky for a roof and the celestial vault had witnessed different rituals which took place here. Conquering La Fortaleza involves a challenging hike, but the peak rewards visitors with astounding views.
Alto de Garajonay
La Gomera’s highest point, Alto de Garajonay, is almost 1.5 kilometers above sea level. The roof of the island is a natural platform for observing the skies and verdant vegetation below. From this vantage point, visitors can see as far as the neighboring western Canary Islands on a clear day. At night, with the relative lack of light contamination in the island, Alto de Garajonay is the perfect spot to enjoy stargazing.
Beaches and Water Activities
In La Gomera, with numerous black sand beaches, lovers of tranquility will surely find their favorite spots at one of these wild, pristine beauties. Also, for those who want to see the wonders beneath the sea, there are boat tours for snorkeling and scuba diving. The warm waters and welcoming waves in the Canaries are also a favorite of dolphins and other mammals so expect to see them along the way.
Playa del Valle Gran Rey
Backed by green fields full of banana plantations and cliffs rising on either side of the beach, Playa del Valle Gran Rey has a dramatic setting. At the same time, the tranquility and remoteness of this beach are enough incentives for visitors who braved winding roads to get here. Furthermore, the waters are crystal clear and perfect for a refreshing dip anytime of the day. Finally, refreshments are available via two cafes by the shore.
Playa de La Calera
Experience the Atlantic Ocean at its calmest state at Playa de La Calera. The longest beach on the western coast of the island boasts splashing fun for visitors of all ages. Gentle waves, dark volcanic sand and a clean beach set among cliffs await here. Spend a day building sand castles, lazing on the powdery sand and soaking up some sun. The beach has an air of remoteness on most days. However, it’s not entirely devoid of facilities. As the day ends, guests may enjoy some hearty meal at one of the quaint beach-front restaurants.
Playa del Ingles
Known as a nudists and tranquility lovers’ haven, Playa del Ingles is also one of the best beaches in Valle Gran Rey. This pristine beach is made up of black volcanic sand and rocks with waters that are perfect for surfing. Towering cliffs dominate the backdrop, giving a remote feel to it. Even so, this beach is not completely devoid of amenities. Nearby are cafes, restaurants, and other entertainment, enough to keep visitors going until the magical golden hour.
Playa de Avalo
Despite many tourists visiting on a regular basis, Playa de Avalo is still the way nature intended it to be. In other words, it remains pristine with no amenities, restaurants or even sun loungers. As such, it’s the perfect spot for families, couples and even single travelers to enjoy a private picnic. Nearby, visitors will also spot a small chapel as well as one of the most beautiful palm tree groves on the island.
Playa de La Cueva
Located in San Sebastian’s rural area, this 220-meter stretch of black sand is one of La Gomera’s liveliest beaches. There’s a yacht club close by, as well as a slew of bars and restaurants dotting the coastline. Here, visitors enjoy basking in the heat of the sun during the day, and as the sun sets, have some drinks over acoustic entertainment.
Charming Villages and Towns
Some of the most charming bucolic villages in the Canary Islands are in La Gomera. Without the influx of mass tourism, the locals did great in preserving its traditional localities. From coastal fishing villages to towns perched high up on a mountain, visitors can’t help but fall in love with each area’s exceptional character.
San Sebastian de La Gomera
Retrace the steps of Christopher Columbus’ voyage at this historic island capital. Aside from the rustic Canarian-style houses, many of the attractions are related to the explorer’s journey in discovering the Americas. One is Casa de La Aguada where Columbus drank water from a well. Another is the nearby Church of the Assumption (Iglesia de la Virgen de la Asunción). It is here where he prayed before his expedition. After a day of strolling, visitors may take delight in some snacks in one of the old town’s beautiful colonial terraces.
Dubbed as the Green Balcony of La Gomera, Agulo sits on a natural platform with expansive views of the ocean and Mount Teide. A lovely patchwork of green banana fields creates a stark contrast to the ochre roofs of the houses. Visitors strolling through the old streets of this peaceful village will see well-restored stone houses. Within the village, the Moorish-style church of San Marcos, with its four white domes, is also worth a visit.
Valle Gran Rey
A lovely village to unwind between the palm trees and the sea, Valle Gran Rey seems like a world away from other crowded towns in the Canaries. The calm, bohemian atmosphere surrounded by the pristine beauty of nature is a delight to senses. Holidays here consist of hours swimming in the ocean, relaxing on the black sand beaches and watching the day go by at one of the cafes. Also, visitors should not miss the traditional cuisines offered at local restaurants.
Playa de Santiago
Time seems to be at a halt in Playa de Santiago, a fishing village that is as laid back as it gets. Sunbathing sessions on the beach officially start the day that eventually progresses to leisurely walks on the harbor. At lunchtime, guests may choose from a plethora of seafood restaurants that not only serve the catch of the day but also offer stunning views of the ocean.
Cultural and Historical Hotspots
La Gomera holds one of the most fascinating and rich histories in the Canary Islands. The island’s past is well-displayed in its museums, churches and visitor’s centers. Additionally, guests may relive it by strolling at one of La Gomera’s charming old towns.
Torre del Conde
Standing tall and proud as it should amidst greenery is the historic Torre del Conde. This 15th-century tower is the only military-type building in the archipelago that has been preserved in its original state. Here, visitors can enjoy peaceful walks on the surrounding subtropical park before heading to the old fortress. Stepping inside the museum is like being transported to the years gone by with its fascinating historical exhibition. Expect to see old La Gomera maps and photographs dating back to thousands of years ago.
La Gomera Ethnographic Museum
The two-story ethnographic museum is home to exhibitions showcasing the island’s natural resources and local crafts. Guests will surely find the information and artifacts of Gomeran fishing, forestry, farming, weaving fascinating. There is also an area dedicated to the island’s unique whistling language and an AVP room for various short films. The museum, set in a charming historic building, has a rustic ambiance that makes visitors feel as if they’re stepping back in time.
Church of the Assumption (Iglesia de la Virgen de la Asunción)
Guests following the paths of Christopher Columbus will undoubtedly come across this small yet fascinating church. It is the area where the explorer and his men prayed before setting off to the New World. Although fire destroyed the original chapel, what visitors will see now is a reconstructed place of worship with beautiful and intricate details. Anyone wandering inside will be treated to a feast of colors from the religious sculptures, paintings, and Mudejar ceiling.
Food and Drinks
Visitors will be surprised by the gastronomic treats of La Gomera. The simplicity of cuisines using a variety of local produce from the land and the sea are a delight to the palate. Having food as vast and varied as its landscape, many tourists feel as if they’ve been to different places when dining at La Gomera’s slew of restaurants and bars.
Parador de La Gomera
This elegant restaurant in the island capital is, without a doubt, the most refined establishment in town. Set in an old manor house with an excellent view of the ocean, Parador de La Gomera offers a superb dining experience. Try servings of mouthwatering creative versions of traditional Canarian favorites such as their Gomeran fish casserole, watercress soup, boiled blennies and caramelized milk with palm syrup. Parador de La Gomera is perfect for special occasions for couples and the whole family.
La Forastera Restaurant
Ranked number one on TripAdvisor, La Forestera provides a dining experience like no other in the heart of the island capital. This tiny bistro set in the old town, with the menu chalked up on a green board, boasts delicious local and international cuisines. Also, it is proud to cater to particular dietary requirements including vegan and gluten free options. Because of their excellent service and reasonably priced food, it is no wonder visitors keep returning to this delightful hole in the wall.
Situated opposite the harbor of Playa Santiago is a local favorite, Restaurante Juniona. Upon arrival, their friendly staff welcomes guests to an elegant dining room decorated with contemporary artwork. Sample their unique take on vodka and prawn sauce and black pasta with salmon in a lobster. Also, the exquisitely prepared Dorada a la Plancha is also a must-try.
Visitors looking for good atmosphere and great food in Hermigua should not miss Las Chacaras. Traditional Canarian dishes like tuna steak, goat stew, and local grilled cheese await. Also, the homemade desserts and wine top off any meal perfectly. The clean dining area and kitchen, as well as the swift and polite service, make Las Chacaras a perennial favorite among locals and guests.
Bar-Restaurante El Puerto
Located by the port of Valle Gran Rey, visitors can expect the freshest seafood dishes at Bar-Restaurante El Puerto. This traditional restaurant is one of the highly-recommended spots to sample traditional delicacies such as Lapas a la Plancha (grilled limpets) and Paella. Guests here not only feast on affordable and delicious Spanish cuisines but also enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Hotels in La Gomera
While many visitors only plan a day trip from Tenerife or other islands, La Gomera really can’t be explored in a single day. So, anyone wanting to stay a little longer will surely find a home away from home at one of the island’s holiday resorts.
Hotel Jardin Tecina
Perched on a cliff just 10 minutes from Playa Santiago, Hotel Jardin Tecina is surrounded by nature’s grandiose. This 4-star hotel, set amidst a lush and well-manicured garden, has ravishing views of the Atlantic Ocean and Mount Teide. It also has an impressive array of amenities which include several outdoor pools, a fitness center and a lido by the sea. At night, guests looking for fun don’t even have to leave as the hotel has a selection of bars, two of which serve cocktails and live entertainment.
Parador Conde de La Gomera
Located on an elevated platform over San Sebastian Harbor, Parador Conde de La Gomera has an almost 360-degree view of the sea. Like many accommodations in the Canary Islands, this hostel offers a charming traditional style architecture. The guestrooms of this former manor house surround the palm-shaded inner courtyard. Another thing that makes this hotel popular among visitors is its proximity to bars and restaurants by the harbor.
Gran Rey Hotel
Set on La Puntanilla’s beachfront promenade, Gran Rey Hotel guests wake up to the view of the ocean or the valley. This 3-star hotel, opened in 1996, offers cozy rooms, a sunbathing terrace, and a tennis court. There is also an outdoor pool for visitors to cool down after a day of exploring the island.
Baja del Secreto Apartments
Baja del Secreto is the place to be for visitors wanting ultimate tranquility and relaxation. Traditionally Canarian in design, the complex has hand-carved stone walls and wooden balconies. Location at the mouth of a gorge in Valle Gran Rey, visitors have some stellar mountain views to enjoy. It takes only a few minutes to walk to the beach, but guests have the option of using the rooftop pool.
Hotel Playa Calera
Remote but not completely lacking of modern amenities, Playa Calera offers one of the most relaxing stays on the island. The location is privileged, just a couple of minutes to the beach and surrounding nature. This 4-star hotel offers a clean rooftop pool, stylish rooms with mountain or sea views and a restaurant. Also, there is a lounge bar to enjoy some drinks while savoring the scenery of the lavish surroundings.
Getting to and Around
Unlike the other bigger islands in the archipelago, the airport in La Gomera is only served by local planes from Tenerife North Airport. Binter Canarias, an interisland airway, connect La Gomera to the rest of the Canaries via Tenerife, several times daily.
Most visitors opt to fly to Tenerife South, then board a ferry from Los Cristianos. The fastest option for boats cost €32 and takes 40 minutes. On the other hand, the daily trip from Santa Cruz de La Palma costs €42 and takes about 120 to 150 minutes.
Once in La Gomera, getting around is easy with a car hire. However, bear in mind that the roads are narrow and winding. It is better to drive conservatively and never exceed 50km/h. Most car hire company have offices on the island’s main port.
Alternatively, guests can take the convenient and reliable bus service. Public transport has improved in recent years with regular bus services to the main centers of the capital.
La Gomera in a Nutshell
With all the stunning and unique sights La Gomera can offer, it is unquestionably more than the island Christopher Columbus stopped by in transit to the New World.
At the island’s center, visitors can literally and figuratively surround themselves with the grandiose of nature as they follow the walking trails. Those who have a penchant for traditional villages find more than enough options and perhaps end up having each as their favorite. Although the beaches are limited and not as glamorous as some of the famous ones in other islands, they do have their brand of amusement.
La Gomera is a real paradise that emerged from deep within the Atlantic Ocean. This self-made island, shaped by time and its inhabitants, remains pristine and welcomes its visitors with open arms.