El Hierro, Canary Islands
Set amidst the waters of the Atlantic Ocean about 385 kilometers off the coast of Africa, El Hierro is the westernmost island of the Canary archipelago and is the most distanced from Europe. It occupies an area of 278 sq.km. Its closest neighbors are the islands of La Gomera and La Palma. El Hierro is a sparsely populated island, home to fewer than 10,200 people.
About 90% of the population is Hispanic, and 10% are foreigners who live here all year long, attracted because of its beautiful weather, picturesque scenery and relaxed pace of life.
Official language in El Hierro is Spanish, and the main religion is Christianity. The majority of residents are Catholic.
Valverde. Valverde is the capital of El Hierro. It is home to almost half of the islanders. It is located at an altitude above 600 meters in a steep area.
From some parts of the town reveals stunning views to the Atlantic Ocean. The city has lovely Spanish architecture, and the largest landmark is the church of Santa Maria de la Concepcion.
Nature. El Hierro is a typical volcanic island with a pronounced mountainous relief. Its slopes are very steep and rise to a height of 1,500 meters.
The peaks of the island are almost always hidden in clouds. The beaches are black, often rocky. Sea water temperature is between 18 and 25°C throughout the year.
Traveling around El Hierro, you will notice that the island is primarily colored in black and green hues.
The contrast between the coastal areas and mountainous interior is impressive. Island’s low-lying parts are dry, devoid of vegetation, and dominated by black and red volcanic rocks.
Date palm is one of the most popular plants in El Hierro. It can easily adapt to scarce rainfall. Aloe is also quite popular.
It is known for its numerous medicinal properties. The higher parts of El Hierro, where humidity is greater, are fresh and covered with evergreen deciduous and coniferous forests.
Because of the unique variety of plant and animal species that inhabit the island, much of the territory of El Hierro is under the auspices of UNESCO. The protected areas of the island together amount to about 60% of its total area.
One of the most amazing creatures that live here is the El Hierro Giant Lizard. This reptile reaches a length of about 60 cm, and for its survival is making a great effort.
Climate. El Hierro enjoys a pleasant tropical climate that resembles eternal spring. Winter is pleasantly warm, and summer is not very hot. Weather is coldest in January – about 21°C, and warmest in August – 29°C.
Because of the cold Canary current local summers are cooler than in South Europe, and winters can be described as a cool summer or warm spring.
El Hierro receives a low amount of rainfall, especially in the south. The refreshing wind coming from the Atlantic Ocean almost completely eliminates the sensation of heat even during the hottest summer days.
Economy. El Hierro’s economy relies on two main sectors, agriculture and eco tourism, that blend into one another. The tourism industry in this secluded Canary Island, even if it sounds strange, is quite underdeveloped compared to the other islands.
The number of visitors is still small, despite the positive trend. Leading today, and with the greatest prospect for the future, are rural tourism and practising a wide range of outdoor sports and activities. The year-round warm weather makes El Hierro an attractive destination for walking and bicycle tours.
Here you will find many hiking trails that cross amazing landscapes, offering a variety of magic views. The rural atmosphere of El Hierro makes the island very attractive for tourists looking for a clean environment, relaxing atmosphere, contact with nice and friendly people, and ecological food.
The most serious source of income for local people still remains farming, followed by agriculture and fishing. The most popular livestock on the island are cows, goats and sheep that are breaded mainly for their milk.
El Hierro is well known with the producing of delicious tropical fruits that are used for consumption by local residents and tourists, but are also well known export products. Pineapples, bananas, mangoes, papayas and citrus are the most popular fruits on the island.
The two things you should not miss while in El Hierro are local cheese and the exclusive local wines, possessing exceptional taste and aromatic qualities.
When to visit El Hierro? The climate of El Hierro makes the island attractive year-round tourist destination. There is no season with adverse weather conditions.
However, it is assumed that in the late fall (late October, November and December) tourism conditions are just perfect!
What clothes should I wear? Traveling to El Hierro summer clothing is required. However, it is better to add in your luggage also long jeans, a light jacket or anorak just in case, especially if traveling during the winter months.
Accessibility. On the island of El Hierro has an airport that serves domestic flights and provides a link to some of the other Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria and La Palma. It is located in the eastern part of the island, not far from Valverde.
Another way to get to El Hierro is by ferry from some of the neighboring islands. Ferry lines connect the port of Valverde in El Hierro, with the cities of Los Cristianos on the island of Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, San Sebastian de La Gomera, and Santa Cruz de La Palma.