La Palma of the Canary Islands (the westernmost island) made for one of our favorite holidays (and in my opinion has some of the best food and coffee in Europe). The Canary Islands is frequented so often by German tourists that many of the signs and menus are written in German, English and Spanish. The main tourist islands and the islands with the majority of accessibility options are Tenerife and Gran Canaria, however the other islands have provided quite a few options on their own. La Palma is renowned for adventure enthusiasts and mountain bikers, like my husband, since it is actually the most mountainous island in the world. Banana trees are also grown all over the island, the scent of which got us into our island groove right away. But there’s so much to see and do on this island, we left knowing we had to come back! See our video to get a glimpse!
Please use my guide to La Palma, Canary Islands to know how to make the most of this wonderful island and find where to stay for an accessible vacation! See the Word Canary Islands
For an accessible stay, we chose to do half-board at a resort. While we enjoy hostel hopping, it’s harder to predict the accessibility and availability of meals when you’re not in a city setting. The majority of La Palma island is fairly remote and the hours reflect the relaxed island lifestyle, meaning it’s not always guaranteed to find a place for breakfast on Sunday morning. We also rented a car from the airport- **NOTE: Do not expect public transportation to be adapted for disabilities!** The flight as well is longer and unless you can find a direct flight (Germanwings, for one), it can take an average of 8 hours to get to the islands.
The most populated part of the island is the city Santa Cruz de la Palma, which is also where the airport is located. The island is so small, however, that we were able to travel the entirety in just a few days. When eating out, make sure to taste infamous salsas; moho verde, moho pecan con conejo or mojo rojo
FUN FACT! Remember the pirate “Pegleg”? That was a real pirate by the name of Jean-Paul de Billiancourt who raided the frequently plundered shipbuilding island of La Palma in 1553
Morning: RUTA DE LOS VOLCANES (day trip)
- Ruta de los Volcanes is a hiking trail along the Cumbre Viega mountain ridge on the southernmost part of the island. It passes some unforgettable sights, including Volcan Martin (which can be seen the road and erupted in 1646), Montana de los Charcos (its 1712 eruption is responsible for flattening much of the southern part of the island), Crater del Duraznero (caused by the San Antonio volcano in 1949) and Crater del Hoyo Negro (formed from the 1949 San Juan volcano that’s responsible for flattening the southern part of the island)
- The aforementioned road drives down the southernmost part of island, from which you can see the shore on one side and the volcanoes from the other. At the southernmost tip of the island is Punta Fuencaliente, the location of a historic lighthouse and the salt pans Salinas Marinas de Fuencaliente
Morning: PARQUE NACIONAL de la CALDERA de TABURIENTE (day trip)
- This national park is a massive crater formed by successive volcanic eruptions and now is one of the highest spots on La Palma. The views are magnificent and were a highlight of our trip. One the drive up to the top, you pass the International Astrophysical Observatory with some of NASA’s telescopes as well as Spain. Because of the prime location and clear skies of the Canary Islands, La Palma is regarded as one of the best places in the world for astronomy observations. The sky is lit up at night by the stars so bright that it’s still easy to navigate the beach
- The park is plentiful with walking trails that allow you to walk the circumference of the crater, but there is a driving path where you can get to the top easy. Bring food, there aren’t nearby restaurants!
Afternoon: ROQUE de los MUCHACHOS
- The driving road of this national park leads you first to La Cumbrecita, an information and viewpoint, and then to the beginning of the trail to Roque de los Muchachos. This trail walks along the highest peaks of the crater and while challenging, is still doable for a wheelchair. **NOTE: I would have not been able to do this trail without my husband or without the adaptive equipment, FreeWheel, on my chair**. There are lookout points on the trail (which takes approx. an hour round trip) to see the rest of the island and because it was a clear day, we were able to the highest point on Tenerife, another Canary Island!
Morning: PLAYA NOGALES
- A beautiful beach (but no boardwalks to make it accessible). However, a black sand beach can never grow old.
- While these pools are in different locations, both of these are beautiful infinity pools naturally formed by the Atlantic. The shallow formations are heated by the sun and the waves are diverted away from the pools. Both pools were fantastic experiences, very relaxing, however **NOTE: There’s no accessible infinity pool on this island, but both have ramps leading down to the pools. Getting into the water is challenging and I required my husband’s help**
**Stop at Mirador El Time Overlook lovely café!**
- Literally translated to “door”, the town of Puerto is a beautifully scenic spot for a sunset dinner that we stumbled upon. The town is nestled in between two canyons on the west of the island and look out over the water.
Morning/Afternoon: SANTA CRUZ de la PALMA (day trip)
- A very picturesque city that’s both modern and representative of the rich shipbuilding history of the island during the reign of the 16th century Spanish Empire
- The main steet is Calle O’Daly where you can walk, eat and shop (**NOTE: cobblestones, not always paved**) and see the famous residence Palacio de Salazar
- The most beautiful and best preserved shoreline of La Palma and one of the best in the Canary Islands is Avenida Maritima. It’s worth strolling down for a hour (it’s not too long though, so make that stroll lead to a café or two) , but the road is always very busy
- In front of the Museo Naval is a real replica of El Barco de la Virgen, the ship of Christopher Columbus. You can board the ship and look around, but you have to climb steps and ladders. My husband jumped aboard and he was pretty shocked by the ship’s small size. Columbus’s crew must’ve gotten very familiar with each other!
- The center square is Plaza Espana and this is one of the more accessible (read: paved) pedestrian roads. True to the Spanish island style, it’s also very lively and melodious and colorful.
WHERE WE STAYED:
Calle Punto del Pozo, s/n, 38769 Los Llanos, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain Tel. (34) 922 408000 – Fax. (34) 922 408014. **NOTE: Very accessible resort with large, equipped bathrooms. Only difficulty is reaching the pool due to a large decorative bump in the path. We did half-board and greatly enjoyed the food. I was able to reach the beach and beachfront stores and restaurants from an accessible path provided by the hotel.**