It's Beach Time on La Palma!

With the beautiful landscape of La Palma perhaps it's no wonder that the beaches are sometimes left out as a major asset of the island. In fact, people often don't realise what brilliant beaches La Palma actually does 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 apart from August which is a very popular time with locals and the Spanish from mainland Spain.
So let's talk about the beaches on La Pala and I think you might be surprised at just how many there are!

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 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.

Puerto Naos

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!

El Puerto, Tazacorte

Puerto 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).

Puerto Naos

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!

Puerto Espindola

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!

07 and 08 October – Inmaculada Concepcion, Santo Domingo, Garafia. Kart racing, 4 x 4 on the challenging purpose-built course in the town plus inflatables for the children and live music and dancing in the day and evening.
October – Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Our Lady of the Rosary, Barlovento. During the day/s there are inflatables for the children, free of charge. Also the Tagarage Trail cross country running which is called A Run for All. The toughest ones are 16k, 25k with ‘significant’ ascents, also a 16k and 8k race and then a 3k, 1k and 750m for the littlies. In the evening, a local theatre group puts on a play and on the final Saturday, live music and dancing.
01 November – Todos los Santos, All Saint’s Day. All the cemeteries around the island are adorned with flowers in memory of those who have passed away. Whilst there might be a few tears shed, it is also very much a celebration of life and it’s not uncommon for there to be singing between a small group of ladies as they trim and place the flowers.
11 November, Fiesta de San Martin. Wine cellars are opened to the public and dinners or fiestas are organised with plenty of wine, chestnuts and grilled pork fat.
Christmas time in general – various celebrations around the island and special mass. The Belen (Nativity Scenes) are nothing short of a passion with every town and village or even hamlet making their own little or large scene. In the towns and cities of Los Llanos and Santa Cruz, these are available to see at certain hours either in the main church or Town Hall.
The nativity scene is usually of a miniature village with tiny houses, complete with a rock or two on the roof. And there might be caves for the peasants, goats grazing, a natural spring and of course Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
25 December – Navidad/Christmas is a Public Holiday and family time and in general, everything is closed although you might find the occasional bar/café open, but not many.
31 December – Año Nuevo/New Year. Before midnight, there is live music in the bigger towns or cities. As midnight, younger people emerge looking beautiful in their ball gowns or tuxedos. When the church bells begin with the first chimes for midnight, the tradition everywhere on the island is for a grape to be eaten at each of the 12 chimes. For this reason, you’ll see plenty of grapes for sale in the shops – I suggest you buy seedless ones if you’re to have a chance of eating one every second!
However, many people will celebrate the turn of the year in their homes with family and then only emerge after midnight. As somebody once said to us when we commented it was a fairly quiet occasion in one of the smaller towns where we had gone to celebrate but went home at 12.30am, ‘Oh it doesn’t get going until 4 in the morning!