Pristine, “Santa Cruz de La Palma”
After we left the port of Funchal, Madeira the Queen Elizabeth traveled South across the eastern edge of the Canary Basin enroute to the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma.
La Palma is the World’s steepest island – a lush, green hideaway far removed from the hustle and bustle of the better known Canary Island resorts. In its centre is one of the largest craters in the World, the Caldera de Taburiente.
This is a land of rugged beauty with superb panoramas and breathtaking contrasts of height and depth. La Palma is the most northwesterly of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
High temperatures throughout the year and an abundant rainfall, leads to luxurious vegetation. We experienced another beautiful weather day – couldn’t be better.
Santa Cruz de la Palma is the capital, chief port and the second largest town (20,000). Its known as the most elegant Canaria capital due to its many flower covered wooden balconies. The population of this island is 82,000.
Most of my group joined me on Cunard’s 4 hour Scenic Island Tour. Our guide arrived on this island in 2002 when he was 21 years old from Belgium. He came looking for a job but ended up studying Forestry at a local school and then nabbed a position working for the National Forest department.
This island has five, 4 star hotels but has not yet attracted mass tourism as its current initiative is all about agriculture not tourism. The local Black sand beaches are not as popular as white sand destinations. Bananas provide the #1 crop. Sugarcane is also grown and sugarcane juice is a popular refreshing beverage.
Our young guide feels this is a perfect place to raise his family as a Slow Life = A Good Life.
We first stopped at the impressive Iglesia de El Salvador Church one of the few building to survive the French pirates. This remote area consists of the church, their gift shop and a bar just Incase you wish a drink instead of attending service!
The views from our panoramic stops were impressive.
We traveled through a long tunnel to the drier West side of the island which is dominated by Canary Pine Trees – it was here that we entered the National Forest with scenery similar to what you would expect in British Columbia, not on a small island in the Atlantic.
We stopped at a visitors centre before heading out on a beautiful scenic walk through the forest.
The World largest telescope can be found at the Islands International Observatory. Chile is currently installing a bigger telescope but for the time being La Palma is the leader. This island brags that it is so close to the stars. They are also very cautious that there is only limited light pollution so that everyone can admire Milky Way.
On our way back to the ship we stopped at home surrounded by , “Bird of Paradise” Gardens. We sampled many local foodie products along with wine and honey rum while we sat surrounded by their gardens – beautiful!
This island is perfect for nature lovers. We were told that many tourists get off flights from Germany already wearing their hiking boots.
Our guide told us that we can expect to meet friendly locals that like to chat. Our guide explained that he doesn’t want this to change so makes sure he takes the time to embrace the local conversations.
We arrived back on board ship at 130pm – I headed to the grill for a turkey burger.
The stores in La Palma cater mainly to the locals – no chain stores except for IKEA – they have opened a pick-up location store. Once you place your order it arrives by ferry and is transferred to this location.
Some of my passengers purchased local embroidery products.
Last nights showroom entertainment featured a talented group of 4 guys from the UK who’s show is similar to the, “Oh What A Night” and “4×4” that perform at the Walters Theatre. The showroom was packed last night – not a single empty seat to be found – my passengers loved their performance.
We enjoyed a terrific day! Our first Canary Island port was a big hit!