Guide to Barlovento
Nestling in the north east corner of La Palma, Barlovento is not so much the end of the road but rather the gateway to the north.
With the wide main road that runs through the middle of Barlovento town and even a bypass should it open, access to the rest of the north has never been easier. But it really would be a shame to bypass it as after all, you’ll miss dropping into one of the several bars for coffee and cake. Or, if you’re looking for spending some time with the locals, head for the Spar supermarket which acts as the central hub for the town with locals getting their daily supplies and having a chat while they’re there. If you’re looking for ‘old’ and ‘character,’ you'll find that hidden away in the narrow backstreets where the little stone cottages reside. Well worth a stroll about!
So whilst the town has some hidden treasures such as the original springs which feed the natural water basins, it’s a must to discover other areas of the municipality such as the best sea pools on the island, the laurisilva forest, dragon trees and the crazy steep village of Gallegos.
Barlovento lies in the north-east corner between Garafia to the west and Los Sauces to the south east. Just12km from the town of Los Sauces, the LP1 main road passes through Barlovento between the 31km and 33km marker signs as measured from Santa Cruz. The coordinates for Barlovento town are 28.828585, -17.804324
The largest village in the municipality is Gallegos to the west and the hamlets are La Crucita, Topaciegas and La Tosca to the west, La Fajana to the north, Los Paredes and La Cuesta to the east and Los Marantes and Cabezadas to the south.Data
The municipality of Barlovento covers 43.55 sq. km. rising from sea level to ridge of the Caldera de Taburiente at Pico de la Cruz at 2,350m above sea level. Barlovento town is at 548m above sea level and it has a population of 1,855 residents as of the year 2018.
The largest village in the municipality is Gallegos and the hamlets are: La Crucita, Topaciegas and La Tosca to the north west, La Fajana to the north, Los Paredes and La Cuesta to the east and Los Marantes and Cabezadas to the south.
Over the years the municipality of Barlovento has developed a great agricultural tradition with its rich soil and water supply. Mountain springs still abound, and these were a great source for supplying fresh drinking water along with other domestic requirements. To reach larger supplies of water, mines were dug deep into the mountainside and these are called ‘gallerias.’ The galleries are still intact and with water supplies running through them. Although it is not possible to enter the mine, the gushing water can be heard and a few old relics still exist such as the little railway line and ‘dolly’ cart used to transport the remove rock and soil.
After finding the underground fountains, this allowed the production of more successful crops of potatoes and then bananas, avocados, sub-tropical fruits and ñame (a yam) which are water loving root vegetables. Nowadays Barlovento produces the flower Proteas on a commercial basis and exports it to the Netherlands.
Barlovento was particularly noted for its many windmills (the name Barlovento means ‘windward’) which were driven by the north-easterly Trade Winds which are the predominant winds in the Canary Islands. It was therefore an important location for the production of gofio (the Canarian name for flour made from roasted grains). Until about 2008, there was still a little shop in Barlovento where you could purchase gofio directly from the mill.
When it comes to road links to the rest of La Palma, Barlovento has had to wait its turn. In 1941, the compacted earth road from Santa Cruz only reached as far as Los Sauces, 12km to the south. It was 10 years later in 1951 before the compacted earth road arrived in Barlovento. In the late 50’s, asphalting reached Los Sauces and then eventually Barlovento in the 1970’s.
Main points of interest in Barlovento
The Church of Our Lady Rosario, Nuestra Señora Rosario
Area Recreativa de La Laguna de Barlovento
Tunnels of Las Mimbreras
La Fajana Sea Pools
Faro de Punta Complida Lighthouse
La Tosca Dragon Trees
The Church of Our Lady Rosario, La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Rosario
Situated to one side of the main plaza in Barlovento, the exact year of its construction is not known but it is estimated to have been around 1581. However, it is known that the church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1678.
Area Recreativa de La Laguna de Barlovento
Situated at the top (west) end of Barlovento off the LP109 road to Mimbreras towards the Hotel Romantica is the La Laguna Recreation Area. Set at the edge of the laurel forest, the area is of great ecological interest because of the variety of the bird life. It is also a starting point for exploring the trails of the north east (Marcos y Cordero, Los Tilos, etc.).
The park includes a lake with ducks, children's playground, restaurant Las Goteras, BBQ areas with individual stone-built BBQ shacks fitted with table and benches, campsite, toilets and the reservoir La Laguna. There is a small charge for the use of the BBQ cabins and this can be made at the site office at the entrance. At busy times, such as summer weekends or fiestas, the best BBQ cabins are taken, often with large families all joining up there to east. To ensure a BBQ, avoid weekends or you can book in advance!
The La Laguna reservoir is the largest artificial reservoir on the island with a capacity of 5,000000 m3 water although, looking at the map, it is often mistaken for a large and attractive lake. For safety reasons, the reservoir is fenced and not possible to gain access to the water, but you can still look at it!
Barlovento has several natural springs, usually with the old wash basins alongside. This is where water was collected not just for drinking and cooking, but also where the women of the area would come and do the washing of clothes. Fuente (Spring) del Llano is by the path below near the Tourist Office, another on the GR130 between Barlovento and Gallegos and another on the Mimbreras road.
Tunnels of Las Mimbreras are a set of three single file tunnels a few km after Barlovento on the LP109 road (keep straight on after reaching the uppermost part of Barlovento town, do not go right on the LP1). These tunnels were hand dug in the 50's and just wide enough to get the bus through. But don't worry, it's all entirely safe - the road is asphalt and if you are just driving from A to B and want to get there as quickly as possible, take the main LP1 road. But you're missing a treat if you don't go along this road which has been voted one of the most beautiful on the island. Near the start are BBQ's set into the rock face and by going down the steps at the side, you come to a picnic area with children's playground. Towards the end there is a fabulous mirador with a great view and from where you can see the main road far below. From Barlovento, the road comes out on the LP1 main road near Roque Faro.
La Fajana Sea Pools
The sea pools are located halfway between Los Sauces and Barlovento at the 28km marker sign. These are a group of three quite large seawater pools where you can swim or snorkel or simply sunbath. In summer steps are put in place so that it is possible to get in and out of the sea, but meanwhile it is worth taking a dip in the sea pools which have clear water and are teeming with fish. There are good changing facilities and toilets available plus outdoor showers for which there is no charge. There are two bar/restaurants close by, La Gaviota (seagull) and Restaurante La Fajana a little further along.
Faro de Punta Complida Lighthouse
Consisting of a 36m high tower with a single story at its base, the Punta Complida lighthouse is usually cited as being the oldest lighthouse on La Palma, although it has apparently been rebuilt, one part or another, several times.
In august, 2011, it became the first lighthouse in the whole of Europe to use LED high power lamps which allowed an important saving in energy. The new optical consists of a hexagonal array of six panels with four LED lamps, each giving the light of 505,000 candles. The matrix is mounted on a rotating drum to give a flash in 5 seconds with a nominal range of 24 nautical miles. With the previous lamp now redundant, it was carefully extracted and eventually placed in Barlovento town as an open exhibit for all to see.
And even more amazing – the lighthouse is now a high-quality 3-bedroom hotel which opened in 2018. With sea view of course!
La Tosca, around the 33km marker sign, has the greatest concentration of dragon trees (Dracaena) in the Canaries. Although usually called ‘trees’ and can grow up to 18m tall, these are not really trees at all and do not have rings in the trunk. In fact, they are part of the asparagus family and on La Palma, it is only in the north that they seed themselves naturally.
Dragon's blood is a natural plant resin, dark red in colour, which is part of what gives dragon's blood its name (the other part, according to me, is that they usually have many heads, like a dragon).
In the old days, the trunk of a fallen tree was hollowed out and used as bee hives. The trees are now protected and it is illegal to cut them down.
Fiestas in Barlovento
03 May: Fiesta de Las Cruces - Gallegos village. This Fiesta of the Crosses is a very common one in Spain.
On La Palma, it also marks the founding of the city of Santa Cruz de La Palma by the Spanish Conquistadors which took place on 03 May, 1493. Indecently, this is also why many towns name a street ’03 Mayo’ or ‘El Tres de Mayo.’
Last weekend in May: Fiesta de La Laguna with live music in a great setting.
August: The most important fiestas in Barlovento are held in August and are dedicated to the Virgen del Rosario. Every year, there is a traditional procession where the statue of the Virgen Mary is taken from the church and, born shoulder his, leads a parade around the town to the accompaniment of the local brass band.
A highlight is the Batalla de Lepanto which is held twice every five years, once after two years and then three years later which is perfect to make sure that those not in the know, remain confused.
The Battle is a great spectacle with a mock-up of a castle set in a field some distance away from the viewing public who enthral at the sight of a ship being marched across the fields. A fight between the Moors and Christians ensues to the sound of canon-fire, shouts, screams and plenty of smoke.
23 October: Fiesta de la Virgen del Cobre – Gallegos
Beaches and sea water swimming pools
La Fajana de Barlovento sea pools and open sea – located halfway between Barlovento and Los Sauces. There are three sea pools, one quite large, another medium and a pool designed for children with steps to enter, fairly shallow and rail. All have lots of fish so it's a great place for snorkelling!
Playa de Puerto de Espindola – close to San Andres, the iconic village below Los Sauces, has a large sand beach with easy entry/exit.
Charco Azul – just a few minutes’ walk along from the Puerto de Espindola.
Facilities in Barlovento
Bank - La Caixa in side street from roundabout – has ATM. Open 08.15 to 14.00hrs Monday to Friday plus 16.30 – 19.45hrs Thursdays only.
Bank - Caja Siete Ruralvia next to the Pharmacy, 28, Main Street - card needed to access ATM
Chemist (Farmacia) 27, Main Street
Spar Supermarket, main street – open 08.00 to 20.00hrs, Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday.
UDACO mini-supermarket – open Monday to Saturday plus Sunday morning. Bocadillos made to order. Open from approx 07.00hrs.
Butcher (Carniceria) – side street from roundabout
2 Hairdressers Terri next to the florist and Isabel opposite the Post Office
Post Office (Correo) – open approx. 09.00 to 11.00hrs Monday to Friday, except Bank Holidays
Petrol Station (Gasolinera) – the attendant serves you or self-service
Florist - next to Terri hairdresser
Clothes shop, gifts, shoes, walking poles, sleeping bags, etc – Ana Delia in the main street opposite the chemist
Town Hall – (Ayuntamiento) – accessed from the plaza
Information (Tourist Office) – opposite lighthouse light
Hotel Romantica offers tennis court, sauna, jacuzzi, massage (by appointment only), indoor and outdoor swimming pool. Non-guests can also use some of these facilities on a paid-for basis.
Tyre workshop (Taller neumatico)– down side road, next to the butcher’s - this is where to go if your car has a puncture.
Restaurants in Barlovento Town
Restaurante/Café Bar Las Goteras, La Laguna Area Recreativa – a good menu with creatively presented dishes – good portions, reasonable price
Restaurante/Café Bar La Pradera – an original ‘road house’ with pork chops probably the biggest you’ve ever seen. For vegetarians, apart from goat cheese or omelette, salted fish is available. Popular with families and groups as there are plenty of long tables with bench seating so you might just find yourself sharing a table with a dozen other people. Sunday is the most popular day. Located on the old road on the right just before La Laguna.
Restaurante/Café Bar El Campesino, Barlovento at the top end of town, right on the corner of the LP1 to Santo Domingo. A good restaurant with a varied menu.
Hotel Romantica, Barlovento – restaurant in a small country hotel. Open 7 days per week. Good reports and English speaking Tfn: +34 922 18 62 21La Cueva, in La Cuesta between Barlovento and Los Sauces, if you’ve never eaten in a cave this is your chance. Upmarket dining with a difference J
Bars/Cafes in Barlovento town
El Vino – next to the florist and hairdresser in the street near the roundabout
Bar Malibú – near the chemist, clean and spacious
Bar Pompidu – opposite roundabout, locals bar with good atmosphere.
Bar Centro de Día – opposite roundabout, locals bar recently renovated
La Hamburguesa – by the roundabout, mainly a stand-up bar
Bar El Campesino – at crossroads at top end of Barlovento on GR130, very good and cheap bocadillos (crusty bread with filling)
Bar Viveres - in the steep street going down to the sea. A pretty good place to stop for a drink and meet the locals. Snacks may be available. On request, there is a shop behind the bar. Closing day usually Thursday.
Community Centre bar - in the plaza La Fuente, open irregular days/hours.
Walking trails to and from Barlovento
1. GR130 Camino Real to Franceses (bus return)
2. GR130 Camino Real to Los Sauces or onward to San Andres (bus or taxi return)
3. Barlovento to the sea pools of La Fajana (taxi return or walking)
4. Los Tilos Visitor Centre to Barlovento via La Laguna LP 7.1
5. Circular route Barlovento to La Pajaritas water mine, La Palmita, Barlovento LP8, LP40, GR130
Number 120 bus runs between Barlovento and the small town of Puntagorda in the north east. It goes via Gallegos village, Franceses village and Santo Domingo town. This bus is referred to as 'el micro' because it's a small 19-seater bus. The bus stop is opposite the chemist and Marabú bar/cafe and bus runs every two hours weekdays and every four hours at weekends, bank holidays or fiestas.
Number 100 heads south and terminates in Santa Cruz. It runs every hour during the weekdays and every two hours weekends, bank holidays and fiestas. The bus stop is outside of the chemist. Check the bus timetable here : www.tilp.es
0 – 10 km Price: 1.50€
10 - 20km Price: 2.40€
20km+ Price: 2.60€