As a huge fan of the Med and in particular the smaller, less commercialized islands such as Porto Santo, Corsica and Gozo, I have had the Canary Island of La Gomera in my line of sight for some time.
It was probably 15 years ago that the tour operator that I then worked for started to sell the principal hotel on the island – the Hotel Jardin Tecina. I remember the hotel’s sales team coming over to visit our offices and make a presentation.
From those distant days, I have always had a desire to visit and enjoy the property’s superb facilities and sensational golf course not to mention get the chance to discover the island’s nature and some rather unique traditions.
Then just a couple of years ago when I was considering some options for a week’s break to recharge and unwind I once again considered the Jardin Tecina however it was just my bad luck that this time my dates coincided with the hotel being closed for some renovations.
I feel it may be third time lucky very soon as it is still very much on my wish list and a post-pandemic dash may be on the cards particularly now my appetite has been whetted once again by my good friend Lawrence Peachey who, out of the blue, sent me the following blog on the beautiful and somewhat mysterious island of La Gomera.
A Perception Changed
Seven years ago I had never visited the Spanish Canary Islands. It was not on my radar, I was not a beach person and I avoided what I considered to be holiday destinations. A visit to La Gomera changed that perception.
Just a 45 minute fast ferry crossing (www.fredolsen.es) takes you from the bustle of Tenerife to the tranquillity and spectacular scenery of San Sebastián de la Gomera. On route make sure you look out for dolphins and whales from the ferry or take a boat trip out to see them swimming in the Atlantic.
La Gomera, a biosphere, is a small volcanic island of 378 km2 with a population of around 23,000 inhabitants and boasts the ideal all-year-round destination with an average temperature of 23°.
Stunning Landscapes & Tranquility
The capital of San Sebastián de la Gomera reflects the island’s Maritime history and it was from here that Columbus made his last land stop before heading off to discover the New World. La Torre del Conde (The Count’s Tower) is a medieval military fort and the oldest building in La Gomera. The volcanic rock and sand beach at La Cueva is sheltered by an artificial reef that calms the sea. Look for the Olympic Torch which visited the island on its way to Mexico City in 1968.
One of the first things you notice is the long and windy roads that meander across the dramatic landscape. This offers many spectacular views of the picturesque towns, deep ravines, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Garajonay National Park.
The many signposted Miradors all offer great photographic opportunities. The Mirador de Vallehermoso and the Mirador de Igualero, particularly, provide spectacular views.
Sea & Volcano View
The best views of Mt. Teide on the island of Tenerife are also to be found in La Gomera. If you are fortunate to get a low cloud day it offers the opportunity for some unforgettable views and photographs.
The Mirador Morro de Agando on a clear day offers Mt. Teide in the background, great views of Garajonay on one side and on the other the Benhijigua reserve and the Los Roques Natural Monument. Some very good walks are signposted around the area.
The island is a walkers’ paradise with over 40 walks and 600km of paths chartering different terrain and differing degrees of difficulty. Discover laurisilva forests, by way of its vast palm groves, to the impressive ravines and cliffs overlooking the sea. A network of paths covers the whole island and lets you explore its most extraordinary spots, especially the Parque Nacional de Garajonay (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) a leafy mass of prehistoric vegetation. Wear warm clothes as the forest has a varying range of temperatures.
The island’s walking trails vary from easy, mainly flat walking to the harder terrain of goat herders’ tracks. Walking the ravines or ancient paths that link tiny villages offers dramatic landscape and ocean panoramas. You can see why there was a need to create their own whistling language to communicate across these impressive gorges. This language ‘Silbo Gomera’ was declared by UNESCO in 2009 as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This landscape, more than any other factor, helped to cultivate the island’s history and culture.
Cyclists can enjoy the rugged terrain and many cycle paths. There is a combination of road cycling and dirt road cycling. Some of the routes are not ideal for anyone that suffers from vertigo! For cyclists remember that there are limited flat surfaces on the island so most of your cycling will be up or down hills.
Bird Watchers and horticulturists are also in for a treat on the island. Bolle’s and Laurel Pigeons, Corey Shearwater are to be found. The Hotel Jardín Tecina has over 50 plants that are not native to the island and is also home to the award-winning Eco Finca Tecina – a 100% organic garden.
Exploring Local Life
Hiring a car gives you an opportunity to explore the whole island. Valle Gran Rey has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The tiny hamlets, the villages like Vallehermoso, and towns like San Sebastian de la Gomera offer picturesque exploration. Check for local festivals, experience the dance of the drum, or visit Los Chorros De Epina and benefit from good fortune and love. The Shepherd’s leap is a traditional way to move between the rocks and steep terrain (not one to be tried by the amateur).
I like the secluded black sand beaches, the craft shops, and the many bars and restaurants serving local delicacies. Whilst tourism is the main business of the island it is not mass tourism. In every bar or restaurant, you will find local people and a place not just full of tourists. This lack of mass tourism, the rugged, unspoiled landscape, and the mild climate are some of the major reasons why the island is perfect for holidays.
Talking about food and drink there are lots of great restaurants that serve fish caught that morning along with locally grown fruit and vegetables. Sample El almogrote or some of the other Gomeran cheeses or the local palm honey. Try the restaurant at Mirador de Abrante for great views, excellent food, and at certain times an explanation of Silbo Gomero (the local whistling language).
From Simple Homes to Golfing Resorts
The island has a few hotels, apartments, and houses. If you want a holiday with sporting facilities, a spa, golf course, good food, and bars then stay in Playa de Santiago. The Hotel Jardín Tecina has the only golf course on the island along with tennis, squash courts, swimming pools, a banana plantation, and easy access to a couple of beautiful beaches.
The golf course was designed by Donald Steel and was the host of the 2015 European Challenge Tour. The par 71 – 18 hole course offers stunning views of Mt. Teide and offers the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. The hotels Eco Finca Tecina, an organic garden that supplies fruit and vegetables to the hotel.
Relax & Recharge
The island has something for everyone (unless your holidays are all about designer shopping). I use my time there to recharge with a little walking, checking out the great views, practicing my Spanish, and swimming in the sea. I usually stay at the Hotel Jardín Tecina and enjoy their many facilities.
With five swimming pools, there is always the opportunity for a swim. The Ahemon Spa offers delightful views of the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife, and the hotel banana plantation. It is also a great place to enjoy a cocktail whilst sunbathing or sampling the many heated pools and jets of refreshing water. The table tennis tables are frequently visited as on occasion are the Tennis Courts. The 19th hole of the Golf Course is visited on a lazy stroll to the beach and a perfect midway point to recuperate from any strenuous walking. Breakfast on the terrace looking out over Playa de Santiago whilst eating fresh papaya is an ideal way to start the day!
My thanks to Lawrence Peachey for his blog on the beautiful island of La Gomera.
A trip to La Gomera can be booked via your local Travel Agent, Travel Homeworker, or Tour Operator such as Fred Holidays, Prestige Travel, Classic Collection, Sovereign, Kuoni, or TUI.
It is a great island to combine with Tenerife or indeed with parts of mainland Spain and Southern Europe. Check the Canary Islands website and social media accounts below for more information.
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