Insider's Guide: La Gomera, Canary Islands
Sunday 20 November 2011
Nicky Shafe, marketing manager for luxury independent tour operator Prestige Holidays (prestigeholidays.co.uk), offers tips for a holiday on La Gomera in the Canary Islands.
1. Just 35 minutes by fast ferry from Tenerife, La Gomera is probably the least commercialised of the Canary Islands and enjoys an average coastal temperature of 22C (72F) year round.
2. Step out in Garajonay National Park. This Unesco site conserves beautiful and fascinating plant species. Take warm clothes – in winter, it can drop to 5C in the higher reaches of the park.
3. La Gomera's steep ravines led to the development of Silbo, a nationally recognised whistling language. This tradition recently became part of the local school curriculum.
4. San Sebastian, the capital, was Christopher Columbus's last port of call before heading for the New World. You can follow his trail around town.
5. The best way to explore the island is by car. Driving here is a pleasure, with little traffic and well-maintained roads. Don't forget to pack your driving licence, an essential requirement to take to the roads on La Gomera.
6. Most of the beaches have black sand and pebbles. San Sebastian is one of the largest and safest. Others worth visiting include Playa Santiago and Valle Gran Rey.
7. Take to a boat to see hidden scenery such as Los Organos, viewable only from the sea, a spectacular cliff face like gigantic organ pipes, created through volcanic activity and natural erosion.
8. Pass through the pretty village of Las Hayas on the eastern side of the island and visit the village of El Cercado to see how local ceramics are made – not with a potter's wheel, but by hand.
9. La Gomera produces some excellent wines. Terraced vineyards surround the towns of Hermigua to the north and Vallehermoso to the west. Look out for chalkboards outside the bodegas advertising vino del pais, which has a unique, earthy flavour.
10. Be sure to sample the local fish: sama, cherne and tuna. Goat's cheese with dried figs, almonds, and palm honey makes an excellent side order.
To get further information about holidays to Spain and to other destinations, visit the website of Aito (Association of Independent Tour Operators) at aito.com.
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