La Gomera is the second smallest island in the Canaries island archipelago located a 120km kilometers away from the coast of Morocco. You can either fly to La Gomera or Tenerife and then take a Ferry to San Sebastian as La Gomera is only 45 minutes away from the coast southern cost of Tenerife.
I went to La Gomera during the last week of March, the weather conditions were excellent and the temperatures varied between 20C and 30C. Many people asked me what I was goingto do for a week in La Gomera, when I answer that I was goingto hike around the island, many eyebrows were raised. Clearly not everyone sees the point of spending so much time hiking in an unspoiled and untamed environment. But for those of you who do you will love La Gomera.
UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN: THE RUGGED BEAUTY OF LA GOMERA
Even though La Gomera is smaller than Teneriffe it is clearly the “prettier sister”. The island has a great range of natural wonders, from the ravines and canyons, the Garajonay National park, a forever misty myrtle trees forest covered in moss and the rugid beauty of its cliffs, one thing is certain, you will be surprised by the diversity of landscapes on such a small island. Thanks to the generosity of the landscapes you can find La Gomera offers amazing hiking possibilities and many water sports activities. You could sail around the island, go whale watching or dolphin spotting, try scuba diving or surfing in Valley Gran Rey.
You will not find many impressive buildings on the island but the few historical monuments you will see are well conserved, full of history and quite charming. San Sebastian de la Gomera is the harbour where Christopher Columbus set sail from on his first trip! In the Parke del Torre you will see a defensive tower called Torre Del Conde dating from the 15th century (It was built in 1447). Don’t miss the well next to the tower, the locals say that this is the well which provided water supply to Christopher Columbus and his crew on his first trip to Hispaniola soon to become America. Legend or not, the tower is beautiful and well worth a visit! It is filled with a collection of maps showing the evolution of cartography through the centuries.
There are only a few towns in la Gomera: Vallehermoso, Valle Gran Rey and San Sebastian de la Gomera. In the rest of the island you will find small villages and hamlets with small restaurants serving fish, cress soup, wild rabbit or a typical vegetarian dish served at the wonderful Casa Rural called Casa Eiffigenia.
Last but not least in the list of the highly unuasual treats la Gomera has to offer is its dialect called Silbo. It is beautiful language but don’t expect to understand a single word as they are no words at all.Silbo is a language that you need to whistle! The reason why they used this very peculiar language was to be able to communicate from one side of a canyon to an other when telephone didn’t exist. If you don’t see the point of this language Imagine saying I love you to your significant other from the other side of a canyon for all the birds to hear: Truly romantic!
LA GOMERA, A HIKING PARADISE
Now, you might wonder what I did for a whole week on such a small island.
Well, I mostly walked as my goal was to hike to every Geological point of interests on the island. The topography of la Gomera is very interesting. Like the rest of the Archipelago, its origin is volcanic. It all started in a volcanic eruption 12milions years ago, the material produced by the eruption gave the island its almost circular shape. Over the millenniums erosion did the rest. It dug the beautiful ravines, canyons, columns and gulley that we can see today. Some parts of the island have great Basalt columns called Los Organos which looks like the Gant causeway in Northern Ireland.(Be careful though, you can only see it from the sea and the conditions needs to be excellent for the excursions to run)
The most beautiful walks are through the National park between Vallehermoso and Hermingua, La Fuertalezza de Chipude a “table mountain” which reminded me of South Africa, and Los Roques a mighty rock formation standing between the National park and the desertic part of the island and the pine trees forest. You can also walk to Alto de Garajonay , the summit of La Gomera which culminates at 1487m above the sea level.
The only negative point that can be raised against La gomera is its lack of wild animals. The endemic wildlife books would be the shortest book ever: there would only be lizards. In fact there were very few animals on the island until Columbus imported them from Spain. Now they have goats, donkeys, dogs and cats however the wildlife is not entirely inexistent: The biodiversity is such that the island became a World Biosphere site in the 90’s.
DOLPHINS AND WHALES SPOTTING
When I arrived in San Sebastian the staff working there told me that the Biodiversity of La Gomera's sea bed was remarquable. Later on other people recommended me to go on one of the many boat trips available on the island, so on a beautiful morning I woke up at sunrise to walk down to the hippie town of Valle Gran Rey and then catch a boat to see dolphins... I arrived in Valle Gran Rey early enough to go for breakfast in the little harbour. Watching the sun gradually unlighten the harbour felt like walking inside one of William Turner's painting and this experience alone was worth the hike.
At 10.30 everyone was ready to board and our little boat left the harbour. We couldn’t have ask for better weather conditions, the sun was shining, the sea had a beautiful dark blue color and there wasn’t too many waves. It was only an impression though as soon as we reached the open sea our boat started dancing on the waves and my stomach with it. I felt a bit ill and the crew gave me a compression bracelet, an ice cold towel and a lot of water. 20 minutes later I was feeling much better.
All in all It was a fantastic experience, we looked for dolphins and whales for about 2hours during which I saw more than 80 Dolphins moteados, a few albino dolphins, a dozen tropical whales, a couple of falcons and many sea birds.
After all this excitement the crew took us to a small bay where Tapas and Sangria were served on board. We had the possibility to swim in the very refreshing water surrounded by high cliffs. A beautiful moment despite the water being ice cold! We slowly headed back to Valle Gran Rey, our head full of pretty pictures of dolphins and the deafening noise of the ocean crashing on the rocks. I had a remarkable day thanks to Excursiones Tina and I would really recommend it to everyone.
SUNSETS ARE TRULY UNIQUE
Every country likes bragging about the beauty of its landscapes. They like to talk about the purity of the air that you can breath there or how unique their sunsets are.
I have often noticed that despite the undeniable beauty of the sites advertised the sceneries are pretty but don’t deserve to be described as “breathtakingly beautiful”. However, when it comes to describing La Gomera I genuinely think that the sunsets on this tiny island are amazingly beautiful. In fact my favourite thing during my trip was to sit down at the Terasse of la montagna reastaurant or casa eiffigenia with a glass of local wine while admiring the sunset, soaking up its beauty while zipping my wine.
Some might say that the endorphins of all my hiking clouded my judgement but this sunset one the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen.
You might be right, and I may be mistaken, but I can ensure you that is worth booking a plane ticket just to be sure you are not missing out on what I found to be a very unique experience.