La Palma, Canary Islands
La Palma is the northwestern-most of all the Canary Islands. It covers an area of 706 sq.km. and lies about 420 km off the coast of Africa. Its closest neighbors are the islands of La Gomera and El Hierro. The island’s capital Santa Cruz de La Palma is located at 28 degrees and 40 minutes north latitude and 17 degrees and 46 minutes west longitude. La Palma is a small island. Its longest distance from north to south is about 45 km and from west to east barely exceeds 27 km.
Climate. La Palma has a fresh oceanic tropical climate. Because of the humid air masses coming from the Atlantic, La Palma gets more rain than the other islands, especially the northern slopes of the island.
Daytime temperatures are usually around 20 – 21°C in January and reach around 26°C in August. The southern parts of the island are about 1-2 degrees warmer and much drier.
Although La Palma also enjoys a lovely sunny climate, the number of cloudy and rainy days is greater than the other Canary Islands, especially arid places such as Fuerteventura. In the highest parts of the mountains is possible non-lasting snow cover, but this does not happen every year.
Nature. Like the other Canary Islands, La Palma has a volcanic origin and mostly mountainous relief. The highest point of the island is about 2400 meters above sea level. In the central parts of La Palma is located Caldera de Taburiente. This is the largest volcanic crater in the world.
Because of its uniqueness, Caldera de Taburiente was declared a national park in 1954. In north – south direction along the ridge of the island have formed many smaller volcanic craters. La Palma is the most active volcanic island in the Canaries. The last eruption was in 1971.
La Palma is one of the greenest Canary Islands. Much of the island, especially its northern slopes, is covered with very beautiful and lush rainforests. Due to the mild, moist climate and unchangeable temperature local vegetation is evergreen.
There are both coniferous and broad-leaved species. Among the trees there is a thick network of vines. Every stone is covered with green moss. The low-lying coastal areas are much drier, and covered with scarce vegetation.
Along the coasts of La Palma grow date palms, aloe, cactus and other dry-loving species. Here, like the other Canary Islands, one can see coconut palms. This is not a native plant, but is very well adapted to local climate.
Beaches. Most of the coast line of La Palma is rocky and beaches are almost completely absent. Rocky shores descend steeply to the dark blue waters of the Atlantic. However there are some not very large beaches, offering coolness to their visitors.
Since La Palma is of volcanic origin, local beaches are almost black with a shade of ash gray. Some of the best beaches you will find in two of the leading tourist destinations on the island, Puerto Naos and Tazacorte.
They are both located on the west coast of La Palma. For lovers of raw beauty is recommended to visit Playa Nueva. The place is quite isolated, and its visitors are very few. The sand is black, mixed with oval volcanic rocks, and high cliffs are overhanging above the beach.
It is most beautiful at sunset when the sand and the rocks begin to reflect the orange shades of the setting sun.
Population. The population of La Palma is around 86 000 inhabitants and most of them are local. Foreigners constitute an insignificant part of the total number of local population. Official language in La Palma is Spanish, and Christianity (Catholicism) is official religion.
The largest city is the island’s capital Santa Cruz de La Palma, located on the east coast. The city has a population of about 17,000 people and tends to decrease.
Since La Palma is one of the most rural and isolated islands in the archipelago, the rhythm of life here is relaxing and stress-free.
People are friendly, enjoying the idyll of their little world. Since the distances here are quite small, local people can go everywhere without a car, unless if they travel to other town.
Economy of La Palma. The economy of La Palma is mainly based on agriculture. The most important source of income for local people are the huge banana plantations, located on the west coast.
The combination of good climate and rich volcanic soil is favorable for growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, citrus, olives, mangoes, pineapples, apples and dates are just a small part of the unusual variety in La Palma.
The mild climate allows the cultivation of vines and production of unique local tropical wine. La Palma is known for its delicious honey. Livestock is second in importance. Goats, cows and sheep are grown mainly because of their high quality milk.
La Palma, like some other islands in the archipelago, is known for its production of exceptional goat cheese. The fishing industry is also well developed and ensures much of the food that local residents put on the table.
Tourism industry of La Palma gives way to the well developed agriculture. Rural and ecological tourism are most popular. The island offers a wide range of opportunities to practice sport tourism.
The beautiful scenery of La Palma offers exceptional tourist routes, passing through amazing places and varied landscapes.
Ideal location for an observatory. Like the Hawaii Islands in the Pacific, the island of La Palma is considered one of the best places in the world to build an observatory.
This is because the clouds covering La Palma are usually between 1000 and 2000 meters height, i.e. at least 400 meters below the mountain peak.
Thus, the peaks of La Palma always enjoy clear and cloudless sky, providing excellent working conditions to the numerous satellites located here.
When to visit La Palma? Although the climate of La Palma is more humid than the other Canary Islands, local climate conditions are also very good throughout the year.
You could visit the island throughout the year depending on your personal preferences. During the winter months for example the weather is mild and fresher, which appeals to most tourists, but is also more variable. In summer the weather is more stable, but the sun is much stronger.
What clothes to wear? If you want to spend an unforgettable vacation on the island of La Palma, summer clothes are necessary.
If you are planning to go for a vacation during the winter months, however, would be very wise to add a light jacket and long pants to your luggage, because in some days the weather is cold, rainy and windy.
You will need your beach accessories throughout the year, no matter if you are planning to stay in one of the coastal resorts or just to relax near the swimming pool of the hotel.
Transport accessibility. The International Airport on the island of La Palma is located approximately 6 km south of the capital Santa Cruz de La Palma.
The island maintains regular ferryboat links to La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, and the province of Andalusia in southern Spain.