La Gomera, the second-smallest island in the Canaries, is one of the strangest places to visit if you’re only familiar with Lanzarote. In just two short flights, you are transported to an island with luscious forests, streams, and waterfalls.
I’m ashamed to say up until my most recent trip to La Gomera I had only seen Lanzarote and Fuerteventura (the two driest islands in the Canaries, with little-to-no vegetation apart from after the rains.) That changed last week as I looked for popular hiking trips in the Canaries and settled on La Gomera.
I was drawn to the island after seeing pictures of the famous Garajonay National Park, with its dense forests, hidden church, streams, and waterfalls.
The island is circular in shape, with the perimeter towns and villages resembling Lanzarote in colour and dryness. However, as you travel to the centre the island quickly turns into a misty woodland wonderland.
To get to La Gomera from Lanzarote you’ll need to take two flights with local airline Binter, first flying to Gran Canaria or Tenerife and then onward to La Gomera. The flights are short (no more than 45 minutes each way) and while Binter don’t provide an in-flight food service, they do provide free water and a snack with each flight.
La Gomera is a popular destination for keen hikers, seeing a large number of German tourists arriving every winter to enjoy some of Garajonay National Park’s many hiking trails.
The hikes range from easy to hard, however, all of the walks are hilly which can be challenging on longer walks.
Alto de Garajonay loop from Valle Gran Rey
Starting in Chipude, this hike takes 4 hrs to complete and will take you to the Alto de Garajonay peak with stunning views over the island. The walk starts off relatively easily, however, from approximately halfway it is almost entirely uphill so make sure to pack quality boots and spare socks in your backpack.
At the beginning of the walk, you will approach the Fortaleza de Chipude – a mountain with a completely flat top. The access to the top is a steep narrow set of stairs that are challenging, however, there are plenty of places to stop along the way.
Mirador del Morro de Agando loop from Valle Gran Rey
Starting at the Pajarito bus stop, it begins with a short walk to the Alto de Garajonay before quickly plunging into the deep and wet forest in the national park. The hike takes 4 hrs to complete and over half takes place under the cover of the forest.
Approximately 1 hr into the walk you will come across the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes (a small church hidden in the forest).
The church was founded in August 1935 by an English lady named Florence Stephan Parry, who came to La Gomera to be the governess for the children of Don Mario Navaro Parodi. The information board near the church states that once Mrs. Parry retired, she built the church in the middle of the forest devoted to Nuestra Señora de Lourdes.
At the halfway point you will arrive at Bar Restaurante Camping La Vista, a hikers restaurant nestled in the mountainside. Here you can stop off, grab a coffee and a plate of Potaje de Berros and re-energise for the return.
From this point onwards it is a difficult 2 hrs of steep hiking – expect lots of steps and take plenty of breaks in between.
While staying on La Gomera you’re likely to come across many little bars and restaurants that sell typical Canarian soul food – think of soups, chickpea stews, meat, and potatoes. However, La Gomera does have its own unique food items:
- Almogrote: a thick dry paste made from cured goat’s cheese, spicy peppers, olive oil and garlic. This is often served on tostadas or fresh bread. The texture is close to that of pâté, and it has quite a strong flavour. Almogrote makes for the perfect canapé when paired with a glass of cold white wine.
- Galletas Gomeras: these biscuits are unique to the island and come in a variety of flavours that you wouldn’t expect. We tried the traditional biscuits from the Dulcería Sabores Gomeros at the Juego de Bolas visitors centre in Agulo. You can expect to find flavours such as Lemon & Rosemary, Curry, Turmeric, Coconut, Palm Honey, Chili and more.
The biscuits are thick, made from wheat flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, milk and lard, and are traditionally cooked in wood ovens to give them a unique flavour.
WHAT TO DO
Hiking is the most popular activity to do on La Gomera but you could spend a weekend on the island exploring the various little towns and villages. Hiring a car is recommended as walking to different locations is simply not possible and taking taxis will become expensive. Here are a few attractions and landmarks we’d recommend:
- El Parque Etnográfico de La Gomera: a museum dedicated to showing the island’s history and agriculture with a functioning gofio water mill, farm and gardens.
- Mirador de Abrante: a stunning glass bridge that overlooks Agulo and has views of Tenerife on a clear day. Not for those with a fear of heights.
- San Sebastián de La Gomera: the capital of La Gomera was the last place Columbus stopped before his voyage to the New World in 1492. It features small beaches, a lighthouse, a 15th century stone tower, quaint churches, a park, and plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat.
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