Beaches

Beaches of La Palma

(Written by Ann Easterbrook, Holiday La Palma, http://fincafranceses.blogspot.com.es/)

Perhaps it is no wonder then that the beaches of La Palma sometimes get left out as a major asset of the island. In fact, people often don’t realise what brilliant beaches La Palma does actually have! OK, they are not at all like the almost white sand beaches of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, both islands which are well known for wind surfing. Nor are they like the honey coloured sands of south Tenerife which attract tourism on a large scale. No, these sands are a warm black – in fact, grey with a sprinkling of reddy-brown and a hint of silver – due to the fact that La Palma is a very young island in geological terms. And of course the other important difference is that it’s rare to see a beach on La Palma packed with tourists!  La Palma beaches are what you might call ‘select’ and whilst not as numerous as the larger islands, there are a surprising number of them, many of the smaller ones unknown.

Most people know of the three main beaches on La Palma though – Los Cancajos, Puerto de Tazacorte and Puerto de Naos as they are the main tourist ‘resorts.’

los_cancajosLos Cancajos in the east located between the airport and Santa Cruz de La Palma has a large bay with three beaches divided by natural rocky outcrops. My favourite for swimming is the far one (wouldn’t you just know it) but for snorkeling, it’s hard to beat the first one, at the end where the visitor centre is. With clear waters once you get past the sand near the water’s edge, there are plenty of fish and we love to snorkel out to the breakwater to see if we can spot any empty urchin shells or see what else is going on underwater. And when it’s calm we snorkel around the other side of the breakwater where the sea bed drops away to some crazy depth. Or snorkel along the rocky coastline – but watch out fishermen and their lines. Los Cancajos is also a great place for families with small children as it’s pretty safe and with lots of little puddles and pools.

tazacortePuerto de Tazacorte in the west also has a great beach and with several excellent fish restaurants by the water’s edge, a swim followed by a fish lunch just seems so very right! The safest swimming is definitely near the breakwater end, where the restaurants are as further along the beach, there can be sudden big waves. So please keep children in the safe area. The snorkeling can be interesting here too but it’s better known for its swimming. In summer, there are inflatables in the water and whilst I’d love to give them a go, I can’t say I’ve tried them out (yet).
 

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A little further down the coast is the resort of Puerto de Naos with its large swathe of sandy beach which runs from one end of the bay to the Hotel Sol. With its new promenade which has now taken over what was once a one-way road, this is also worth a visit. Quite naturally it is popular with holiday makers with the Hotel nearby and lots of apartments too, but it’s also a popular spot for SCUBA divers – you can often see them making their way across the sand and then descend into the lovely waters. We’ve discovered that the snorkeling around the headland of the Hotel Sol is surprisingly good – sorry, I see there is a bit of a theme going on here and you don’t have to guess too hard to know what one of our favourite pursuits is!

So just to redress the balance slightly, let me tell you that all three beaches have good restaurants plus bar/cafe’s nearby. At Los Cancajos and Puerto de Naos, there are changing and shower facilities all year round but at Tazacorte, there are usually only facilities available in summer.

So what about beaches on the rest of the island? For access, it would be hard to beat the beach at Puerto Espindola which is below Los Sauces in the north east. You can park right next to the beach and whilst there aren’t any changing facilities, there is the excellent Restaurant Meson del Mar right next to it. Definitely worth a visit!

And by the way, if sea pools are more your ‘thing’ then Charco Azul just along the coast towards San Andres is brilliant and much more fun than you would expect a sea pool to be. And there’s a restaurant there too of course. Although Charco Azul is great it jostles for first place in the sea pools stake with La Fajana de Barlovento and from both places you can swim in the sea when it’s calm.
Hands up if you’ve ever been to the beach of La Fajana de Garafia – my guess then is that you’ve stayed with us in Franceses as it’s certainly a beach that’s not on the general tourist trail. Rather surprisingly for a beach along the rugged north coast, it’s got excellent access – after a ten minute drive from Franceses down a winding road, the road finishes at the banana plantations and the old port of La Fajana. The beach lies to the left, through the little village and there are good stone steps down to it. It’s beautiful and secluded too although it’s not always possible to swim but it’s perfect for beachcombing, a private sunbathe or for getting wet while the mighty Atlantic comes to you.
 
Then of course there is the famous Playa de Nogales near Puntallana in the east. A fabulous stretch of sand that, whilst fairly narrow, is quite dramatic to look at. In years gone by, apparently turtles came here to lay their eggs. Nowadays, it’s a favourite with people who like something a little different but still not at all far from the capital. While road access is good, there are 400 steps down to it. And back up again. My suggestion is that you go in the morning as it loses the sun later in the day.
Speaking of the capital, a really easy beach to get to is the Playa Bajamar at the southern edge of the capital. It’s an incredible beach to say that it is right by the capital of Santa Cruz – and parking is easy as the beach borders the main road coming into the capital. There are changing facilities plus a bar/cafe. And soon of course, we shall have the splendid new beach right alongside the capital itself – now that will be something special!

In the south west there are many beaches, particularly along the coast from Puerto Naos. There’s El Remo which is something of a shanty town but with a couple of great restaurants and the perfect place to watch the sunset over a romantic dinner and glass of La Palma wine. In the same area, there is also Charco Verde, Playa Nueva and La Bombilla.

Further to the south (not from the same road as Puerto Naos) is Playa de Zamora and Playa Chica, Punta Larga, El Faro, Playa Echentive en some more….

Punta Larga La Palma

Along the south west coast is the Salemera beach, just south of Mazo. After the usual twisty road down to it, the road ends at the sandy beach and a smattering of little beach houses. There is also a lighthouse there which goes by the name of Arenas Blancas (white sands) and the whole place is rather reminiscent to me of the little beach places found in Fuerteventura. But ‘white sands’ is probably pushing it a little.

Then there are a couple of small bays in the area of Puntgorda and between Puntagorda and Santo Domingo. And you can also swim from the bay at Santo Domingo where the old port was when it’s calm.
So I seem to have drummed up quite a list of beaches on La Palma but I won’t say that it is necessarily comprehensive, just in case one of my La Palma colleagues shouts at me for forgetting such and such beach!
By the way, the beach in the photo at the top is El Tablado in Garafia. Now who’d have thought it … Just a word a caution, the access is tricky and I don’t say that lightly. It’s not a pirate beach for nothing.