La isla bonita
La Palma is a veritable showcase of Canary Island flora. Two nature reserves, in addition to the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, reflect the tremendous diversity of the island, declared a Biosphere Reserve in the year 2002. It is recognised as a stargazing destination by the Starlight Foundation.
Because of the luxurious vegetation characterising it, La Palma is also known as la isla bonita (the pretty island). In spite of its small size, this island is a true natural paradise, with two nature reserves and a national park, Caldera de Taburiente. The Caldera de Taburiente National Park borders on an extensive territory in the island's centre, with a spectacular crater, eight kilometres in diameter, and the peak of Roque de los Muchachos. Many waterfalls and springs drain the island, rendering a landscape filled with lush vegetation that includes many indigenous species. Lime, laurel, heather, and arbutus, along with many other plants, make up an impressive mosaic of vegetation. The Canary Island pine forests are also worthy of note, taking up the highest areas of the park. Las Nieves Nature Park, located in the northern part of the island, is proud to include the spot of Los Tiles, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983, the first part of the island to enjoy this status. There we find one of the most important laurisilva forests in the Canary Islands, a group of endemic plant species that became extinct in Europe during the Tertiary Period. To the south of La Palma is the Cumbre Vieja Nature Park, the landscape of which reveals the volcanic origin of the island. Within park limits we find abundant populations of Canary Island pine, fayatree, heather and laurisilva. The thick forests that covers the entire island shelters diverse fauna, including many birds like the dark-tailed laurel pigeon, the sparrowhawk, the blackbird and different types of finches. The immense environmental diversity of La Palma is in great shape thanks to sustainable tourist development and the use of traditional methods of agriculture. These were key factors in the declaration of the island as a Biosphere Reserve.
What you need to know
On the island, we can visit several places of interest, such as Los Llanos, Breña Alta, El Paso, Mazo and Fuencaliente. The historic quarter of the island's capital city, Santa Cruz de La Palma, preserves numerous palaces and houses built in the traditional architecture of the Canary Islands. The sanctuary of Virgen de las Nieves is the stage for a fiesta that constitutes an ancient tradition: the descent of the island's patron saint.
The rugged orography found in La Palma favours the thriving number of plant species. Among them are species that are endemic to the Canary Islands and to this island in particular. The Canary Island pine and the laurisilva forests are the most remarkable elements in this natural space.
Information for visits
Daily flights connect the airport of La Palma with the rest of the Canary archipelago. As an inter-island transport alternative, visitors can take the ferry. The visitor centres at El Paso and Roque de los Muchachos will provide information about the best trails to take in order to explore the Caldera de Taburiente National Park and also holds exhibitions and projections about the island and the premises.