Guide to Puntallana
The island of La Palma is divided into 14 municipalities, each one with its own Town Hall. The municipality of San Juan de Puntallana lies in the east of La Palma, between the capital of Santa Cruz to the south and San Andres y Sauces to the north. To the east lies the Atlantic Ocean and inland to the west, it is bordered by El Paso, meeting at a height of 2000m on the mountain ridge of the Cumbre, the spine of the island.
Puntallana has a surface area of 35 km² and a population of 2,500 (as at 2010) a figure which has not changed significantly over the past 100 years.
The area of Puntallana is made up of the small town of Puntallana itself which is 10km north of Santa Cruz plus the following four distinct areas of Tenagua, Santa Lucía, El Granel and La Galga.
In times gone by Puntallana was a large producer of wheat and was known as the granero – the granary - of the island. This was later taken over by wine production, vegetables, fruit and particularly bananas.
Amenities in Puntallana
Most facilities are available in Puntallana and these include:
Spar supermarket – open 08.00 – 20.00 hrs. Closed Sundays
Post office (open a couple of hours in the morning)
Various bars which serve snacks
Bank with ATM
Public Library and Internet open 15.30 to 20.30hrs Monday to Friday
Alternatively, Los Sauces which is 11km to the north is a larger town with more facilities including two supermarkets which stay open all day.
If you need a chemist outside of normal hours, there is always at least one duty chemist open in Santa Cruz.
Places of interest in Puntallana and nearby
Fuente de San Juan (Fountain of St. John): A tranquil cobbled area with a cross, declared The Peace Corner, tucked away in the lower part of Puntallana town. Close to the cross, water from natural springs oozes from the rocks and is collected in several small ponds. Each year the holy patron is carried in a procession to the source in gratitude for the precious water.
Cardonal de Luis Martin (Cardonal Spurge of Luis Martin): Along the road leading from Tenagua to Martin Luis, is the largest natural reserve of the cardonal, or Canarian Island spurge (Euphorbia canariensis) on the island and which is included among the areas protected by the Canarian Government as a Site of Interest. Although this plant may look like a type of cactus, it is in fact a tree. In appearance, it could be described as looking like a tall candelabra (it grows up to 4 metres) and is sometimes referred to by horticulturists as the Hercules Club. Although interesting to look at, the inside is a highly toxic latex in addition to which it has thousands of sharp spines which run down the four sides of each branch.
Playa Nogales (beach): A long stretch of sandy beach which is accessed by 400 steps. At one time, turtles would come here to lay their eggs. For sunbathing, the best time is in the morning because in the afternoon, it looses the sun due to the high cliffs. The currents are very strong and it is not recommended for swimming. The road down to Playa Nogales is at the side of the Bar Hayley in Puntallana, opposite the chemist.
Casa Lujan: A beautiful Colonial manor house built in the 19th century, used as a town hall and school until the 80's. It now houses an ethnographic museum and centre, promoting and selling handicrafts. There is a café alongside selling home-made foods.
La Fuentiña (water source): Quite different to the tranquil water source in the town of Puntallana, this was used as the laundry for the villagers. Down a path leading out of the village, a row of stone basins line up by a natural spring ready for the washer-women to do their chores and catch up on news.
Iglesia de San Juan La Bautista (Church of St. John the Baptist): This beautiful church became a parish church in 1515 and it is home to valuable alter pieces and sculptures, especially a Flemish sculpture from the 16th Century of San Juan Bautista. It is declared a site of particular cultural interest.
Salto del Enamorado (Lover’s Leap) Tradition has it that a shepherd boy was in love with a young maiden who, tired of his claims, decided to test his love. She tells him that in order to win her affection, he must turn around three times whilst stood on the cliff in La Galga. The brave shepherd accepted the challenge and took the first of these turns shouting, ‘In the name of God.’ At the second turn he shouted, ‘In the name of the Virgin!’ The third time, thinking that he was about to pass the test, he cried, ‘In the name of my beloved, that I have won!’ But unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell through the cracks. Since then the place is known as El Salto del Enamorado and has been dedicated with a statue of the shepherd boy in the Mountain of La Galga.
Mercdadillo (Market): - This is a relatively new indoor market selling fresh fruit and vegetables, La Palma cheeses and wines, etc. It is located off the main road by the entrance to Puntallana and is held every Saturday, 09.00 – 14.00 hrs.
There is also an outdoor fruit and vegetable market on the first and third Saturday of every month and this is held in the Plaza in the centre of Puntallana.
Mirador y Cuevas de La Galga (Look-out point and caves of La Galga): The Mirador by the church of San Juan at 19km is still under construction but you can stop the car there anyway and look down into the barranco (ravine) and the caves. If you drive a bit further towards the tunnel, you can leave the car and have a clamber down to the caves.
San Andres nearby is a picturesque village and well worth a visit. With cobbled streets and little old houses, 15th century church, it also has two good restaurants where you can dine outside.
Cubo de la Galga: see ‘Walks’
Nearby Restaurants and Bars
There are two main bars in Puntallana, Bar Halley and La Molina Vieja. Both serve snacks and basic meals. There are at least two other bars which open ‘as and when’ – one being in the cultural centre and the other in the main plaza. The one in the plaza serves ‘churros y chocolate’ which are deep fried batter dipped in chocolate with a cup of hot chocolate.
Other recommended restaurant in the approximate area
Meson del Mar at Puerto Espindola, San Andres. An absolutely gorgeous restaurant in a lovely old two-storey building. The best tables are on the full-length balcony upstairs where fish is the speciality. Snacks are also available downstairs where you can eat outside under the balcony.
The small harbour, Puerto Espindola, is just 50m and there is a large sandy beach just by the restaurant.
Restaurante San Andres in the village of San Andres has a lovely seating area outside, just by the 15th century church.
You can also combine the two restaurants with a walk – walk from Meson del Mar along the seafront path to San Andres.
Charco Azul – signposted for San Andres, just before Los Sauces – a lovely sea pool of clear water with fountain. It is also possible to get in the sea when calm. There are free changing facilities.
Puerto Espindola – just by San Andres – is a large sandy beach.
La Fajana – half way between Los Sauces and Barlovento at the 28km mark – three sea pools, one of them quite large. Great for snorkelling as well as they are teeming with fish. Free changing facilities.
Santa Cruz – this is the nearest beach, the Bajamar, just south of the capital and also the main beach which runs the length of Santa Cruz.
Los Cancajos – between the airport and Santa Cruz – has three beaches and is great for swimming snorkelling. With clear water and lots of fish, they are certainly some of the best beaches on the island. Changing facilities and showers for a small charge.
Los Cancajos has two water sport centres that offer canoeing and SCUBA diving.
If you walk south on the GR130, Santa Cruz is 15km away. The walk leaves Puntallana opposite the school at the entrance to Puntallana. Quite fun to walk into the city, but maybe not exactly the best walk on La Palma!
If you walk north, Los Sauces is 15.2 km away. At one point, approx. 4km from Los Sauces the walk actually goes down to a rocky beach. A couple of kilometres further one, the walk goes through the village San Andres which has a couple of bars. It finishes with a 1.5km walk uphill to the town of Los Sauces.
To start walking northwards, turn left out of the door of Casa Maria and walk downhill where you will soon see the GR130 signs.
Cubo de Galga: A mainly circular walk of 15km (3 hrs 45 mins) walking along the base of a deep and narrow gorge and then upwards through a natural forest of ancient laurel trees. The laurel tree is a specific type of tree which has survived from the tertiary period when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The laurel tree is very scarce and only found in certain parts of the world – the ones on La Palma are therefore very important.
Eventually, the walk takes you to a look out point with a view down to Los Sauces far below. The Visitor’s Centre at the start of the walk has various displays and the helpful staff will be pleased to explain walks and the flora to you. It lies just off the main road, a little north of La Galga.
Los Tilos – the original UNESCO heritage site before the whole island was granted this accolade. It is one of the biggest Laurisilva forests in the Canary Islands. There are several walks possible including: - The Los Tilos Visitor centre to Barlovento and The Marcos y Cordero springs which take you through 13 hand-dug water tunnels. For the Marcos y Cordero walk, take the 4 x 4 taxi in Los Sauces and walk through the tunnels back down to Los Sauces. It’s about 45 minutes in the taxi, so arrive early and then you can join other people going up and share the cost of the taxi.
Alternatively, for the Marcos y Cordero walk, drive into the area of Los Tilos, just before Los Sauces where you can leave the car and walk up to the tunnels and back again the same way.