Most Europeans have heard of the Canary Islands in Spain and have spent a week on Tenerife, Fuerteventura or Gran Canaria. These islands are known both for affordable all-inclusive beach holiday packages and their barren landscapes, which had put me off going there. That was until I learned about La Gomera, their surprisingly lush green neighbour and a paradise for hikers! Here are four reasons to fall in love with La Gomera:
The perfect escape
La Gomera, with only a 22km diameter, is one of the smallest Canary Islands. The island is of volcanic origin and very mountainous with alpine quality hikes. Are you looking for palm trees, blue sky and sunny days all year round? Its location off the coast of Africa allows for fantastic 25 degrees even in January and makes it the perfect escape during the cold winter months.
By the way La Gomera was Christopher Columbus’ last stop before he departed to discover America 😉
Great hiking infrastructure
The island has a network of over 600km hiking trails. Most trails I used were in great condition and not overly crowded. You can hike the island following the circular GR 132 in 5-8 days. There is also the GR131 from San Sebastian to Vallehermoso (2-3 days).
I followed a trail from the centre of the island (Pajarito roundabout) to Valle Gran Rey – Las Hayas – Alojera – Vallehermoso – Agulo using the map material of this German page (sorry the descriptions are in German but you can download the maps for free and follow them via the Viewranger app). At the time it was the best material I could find online. Expect to climb and/or descend 950m of altitude per day – I’d recommend hiking poles. Choose one of the cooler months of the year; it would be way too hot in summer. I booked accommodation beforehand via booking.com and found it perfectly safe to hike on my own.
Mass tourism hasn’t made it to La Gomera yet – probably because it takes a little extra effort to get there. But it’s very popular with Germans and Swiss Germans: most hikers I met spoke German (!) – I guess that speaks for alpine hiking quality.
Valle Gran Rey also seems to attract a majority of German hippies in their 50s or 60s, so don’t expect the same party style you might know from Tenerife island next door.
La Gomera offers spectacular and unspoilt scenery in subtropical oceanic climate.
You’ll be rewarded with amazing views like this one – you can see Teide, the highest mountain in Spain on Tenerife island.
Lava stone can be seen everywhere especially when hiking. Valle Gran Rey also has a black sand beach.
How to get there
Fly to Tenerife South and take the ferry from Los Christanos to La Gomera. This is probably the most affordable way to get there.
There is also a small airport near the town of Playa Santiago.
Most people rent a car. I decided to discover the island by foot which was perfectly alright: it’s not that big, has a great hiking infrastructure and public transport is amazingly well established. I used Guagua buses and was impressed! They are modern and run on time even in the early hours.
If you like being lost in spectacular scenery and enjoy mountain hikes all the same you will love this island!
Inspired by One Love photo challenge.