Guide San Andres y Sauces

Guide to San Andrés y Sauces

The municipality of San Andres y (and) Sauces is so good, they named it twice - just with two different names. San Andres is the smaller and more historic of the two and almost without doubt the prettiest village on the island. It’s what one imagines of a Spanish village with cobbled streets, ancient houses, bougainvillea flowing over the whitewashed walls, the sea close by and a plaza with seafood restaurants in front of the village church.

On the other hand, a few kilometres inland and 250m above sea level, Los Sauces is a busy little town – in the fact the 3rd largest after Santa Cruz and Los Llanos - and certainly the main hub for the area. But it still has that element of charm with its golden, domed church right by the plaza and a beautiful second plaza with its ornamental garden. But if you’d like to know why the diminutive San Andres got to have its name first, read on!

Location

The municipality of San Andres y Sauces is located in the north east of La Palma and covers 42.75 sq. km. rising from sea level up to the Cumbre, and borders Puntallana to the south and Barlovento to the north.

The LP1 main road runs through the centre of Los Sauces town between the 21km and 23kms marker signs, distances which are measured from Santa Cruz along the LP1. But despite it being a busy town, there are no traffic queues and indeed no traffic lights - but watch out for numerous pedestrian crossings.

Data

Most of the housing is clustered around the town of Los Sauces but as a municipality as a whole in 2018, the population was 4112. The areas that make up the municipality include, by order of most populated:

Los Sauces, San Andres, Quita Zoca, Garachico, Hoya Grande, Las Lomadas, Verada Bajamar, Los Galguitos. The coordinates of Los Sauces are  28°48′20″N 17°46′30″W

History

San Andres is one of the oldest villages on La Palma and at one time, was one of the most important communities mainly thanks to its port of Espindola which facilitated the shipping of locally produced merchandise to Santa Cruz.
However, San Andres was only able to do this thanks to Los Sauces and its production of honey and the mass cultivation of sugar cane. And this in turn was made possible by the abundant waters from the natural Marcos and Cordero springs of Los Sauces.
Historically, with a constant supply of water, fertile land and a sea port, San Andres along with Los Sauces was a highly desirable place to live and trade from. So much so that after the Spanish Conquest of 1493, the Conquistador Fernández de Lugo who had conquered La Palma and Tenerife, chose Los Sauces as his second home.
Nobility were not in short in supply and mansions still line the cobbled streets today, although not quite as splendid perhaps as they were. 
In the late 16th century, there was a downturn in the demand for sugar cane and as a result, Los Sauces grew in importance as it developed in industry such as with a flour mill powered by water which also served the neighbouring municipalities.
And in later years, with the introduction of roads which rendered the port less necessary, the importance of San Andres further receded.

Economy

The main crops are bananas of which there are swathes of terraces given over to the growing of bananas. Unlike in the west, the majority of banana plantations are not covered and look like a sea of green.

The root vegetable taro (Colocation esculenta), known locally as ñame is an additional but much smaller crop. As is sugar cane, which is grown for the Ron Aldea rum distillery in San Andres. This is now the only distillery on the island as opposed to 39 such distilleries in the past. Over recent years, the distillery has diversifyed into different types of rum (coffee rum, banana rum, honey rum, etc) and is gaining in popularity.

Main points of interest in San Andres y Sauces

  1. Church of Nuestra Señora de Montserrat – main plaza of Los Sauces town
  2. Church of San Andrés Apóstol – San Andres plaza
  3. Los Tilos forest of laurisilva trees
  4. Marcos y Cordero – heart of La Palma’s natural springs
  5. Puerto Espindola with sand beach and fishing port
  6. Charco Azul sea pools
  7. Caves El Tendal
  8. Rum Distillery – San Andres
  9. Horno de la Cal
  10. Marine walk between San Andres and Charco Azul
  11. Single span bridge over Barranco 353m in length.

 

  1. Church of Nuestra Señora de Montserrat – main plaza of Los Sauces town
    In 1513, the religious building of Our Lady of Montserrat was erected to provide a place of worship for the owners and workers of the sugar mill in Los Sauces which was founded by Marcos de Montserrat. Only in 1960’s was it demolished and a far larger church built which is the church as it is today. The building itself is stunning as it has three naves, an apse (a semi-circular recess) which is crafted from marble and tea wood (the heart of the Canarian pine). Additionally, it houses pieces of undoubted value, such as the flamenco panel that represents the Virgin of the mountain, Our Lady of Montserrat. For about a hundred years, this exceptional painting was placed on the main altar until in 1686 it was replaced by a wooden altarpiece with three niches and a tabernacle from the convent of Santa Clara in Santa Cruz. 
  2. The church of San Andrés located in the plaza of San Andres is one of the oldest religious buildings in the Canary Islands, having proof of its existence as a parish since 1515. The first baptism book dates from between 1554 and 1606.

The bell tower is the only one in the north of La Palma and was constructed in 1686. These and other historical-artistic values ​​determined its declaration as a Cultural Interest with the category of Monument in 1986.

  1. Los Tilos forest of laurisilva trees
    Los Tilos, or Los Tiles meaning lime tree, is one of the most important Laurel forests in the whole of the Canary Islands. In 1983 UNESCO declared El Canal and Los Tilos a biosphere reserve in respect of the Laurel forest – a type of tree which dates back to the Tertiary period millions of years ago - becoming the first place on a Spanish island to receive this accolade. In 2002, the whole island was granted the status of La Palma Biosphere Worldwide Reserve.
    Hidden away 4km inland from the bridge of Los Sauces, the Los Tilos might appear to be just an ordinary forest – apart from the giant ferns which grow higher than an average person. However, a look at the exhibits and information panels at the Visitor Centre will certainly enlighten you! And a walk in the lush woods along with the gentle sounds of the Bolle’s Pigeon and the White-tailed Laurel Pigeon is a very pleasant experience although there are some fairly heavy duty walks too!
    Information centre (with toilets) open 7 days a week, 09.30hrs to 18.30hrs. No charge.
    Restaurant Demetrio near the Visitor Centre, open 7 days a week 10.00hrs to 18.00hrs.
  2. Marcos y Cordero Springs
    This could be classified under walks or things to see and do on La Palma – it certainly falls into both categories!
    The Marcos y Cordero fresh water springs emerge gushing from 3 waterfalls high above Los Sauces. This is what is referred to as the birth (Nacimiento) of the springs.
    More than a hundred years ago, finding the water and the route to get to it was an arduous one and even more so to channel the water. However, in 1900 a series of 13 tunnels were dug in the rock by hand to do just that, the longest tunnel being 400m in length. In this way, the water was transported in a narrow canal approximately 30cm wide and brought down to a lower level where it could more easily be used. In 1955 a Hydroelectric plant, El Mulato, was built and this is the only working one of its type in the Canaries.
    The springs can be reached either from Los Tilos just before the Visitor Centre or from Casa del Monte which is 1,350m above sea level and preferably reached by shared taxi. The latter brings you to almost the start of the walk and the first tunnel. fThe path runs along the side of the canals and through each tunnel – so do bring a torch and watch out for your head as the tunnels can be as low as 1.7m in places. Do not walk it in heavy rain but even so in the last tunnel, you are most likely to get wet.
  3. Puerto Espindola with sand beach and fishing port
    Just to the north of San Andres is the small fishing port of Puerto Espindola. This is a relatively new port which was constructed on the other side of the small bay, with much of the old port still remaining.
    The old port was an important commercial port in the 16th and 17th century and was very active until the 1930’s after which its use gradually subsided, particularly after the 1950’s when transport by road became possible.
    Between the old and the new port is a 200m long sand beach - the swimming is usually good within the protected breakwater area.
    The name Espíndola comes from Francisco Espíndola, the Mayor of Sanlúcar and rich merchant that contributed to the export of sugarcane.
  4. Charco Azul sea pool
    This natural seawater swimming pool is a great favourite for both sunbathing on the stone terraces and swimming in the clear water of Charco Azul meaning Blue Pool. For some extra fun, a waterfall into the pool is sometimes turned on.
    There is also a small pool for young children which is man-made, very shallow and safe.
    Changing cubicles are provided.
  5. Caves El Tendal – next to LP1 main road at 19km marker
    The Tendal caves in the ravine of San Juan, Galguitos, are one of the most important archaeological sites on the island. Clustered in a large, natural shelter at the base of the rock face, there are nine caves which were inhabited by the ancient aborigines. In addition to these, there are 2 necropolis which are a type of designated cemetery or tomb.
    In 2019, an information centre was opened so that people could learn more the findings and how the aborigines lived.
  6. Museum Ron Aldea Rum Distillery – San Andres

Founded in the 1950’s the Ron Aldea is the last remaining distillery out of 39 which once operated on the island. It has survived and thrived due to its method of distillation using the juice of the freshly ground sugar cane as opposed to molasses. This gives it the pure flavour and aroma of the sweet cane.
The original distillery is now a museum and open to the public with the working distillery just across the road. There is also a rum warehouse next to the museum where different types of rum can be purchased, such as original rum, honey rum, white rum, single cane, reserve, caramel, etc.
Open Monday to Friday : 09.00 to 14.00hrs and then again 15.00 to 18.00hrs
Saturday and Sunday: 10.00 to 14.00hrs and 15.00 to 18.00hrs

  1. Lime Kiln - Horno de la Cal, San Andres
    Lime was a very important building material, used for both mortar and for whitewashing stone walls. However, the lime stone that was imported, or the raw lime, had to be baked before it could be used and this resulted in lime kilns being built by the sea in the places where it was unloaded. The lime kiln at San Andres is located by the sea and dates from the start of the 20th century. Restored around 2009, visitors are able to view not just the outside but also to peer down into the inside - it’s a fascinating construction.
  2. Marine walk between San Andres and Charco Azul
    In 2009 a very attractive, flat marine walk was created between San Andres and Charco Azul. At one end is the beautiful little village of San Andres and at the other end is Charco Azul, the beach and Puerto of Espindola and the Rum Museum. Along the way is the Lime Kiln.
  3. Single Span Bridge – Los Sauces
    The Puente de Los Sauces as it is known, crosses the deep Barranco de Agua which comes from Los Tilos just to the south of Los Sauces at 21km from Santa Cruz. At the time of its building in 2004, it was the longest single span bridge in the Canaries at 353m in length although other bridges may now have superseded this! .
    Many locals were not trusting of its strength and at its inauguration in 2004, it was tested with 30 wagons crossing it, each weighing 26 tons. So far, so good.

Fiestas

San Andres y Sauces: La Cruz y Santa Rita festivity (held on the last weekend of May), the San Juan Bautista Festivity, during the first week of July, or the Nuestra Señora del Carmen festivity on the first weekend of August.

Restaurants

Los Sauces:

Restaurante El Canal – main street, north end, at the roundabout. The only true restaurant in Los Sauces. Closed Sundays http://www.restauranteelcanal.com/

Bar/cafes Los Sauces (starting from the south end)

Bar El Drago

Tasca el Bejeque with restaurant in addition to snacks and drinks

Bar Sisigam

Bar/café Caboco

Kiosk la Plaza, a kiosk style outdoor bar in the plaza

All of the above offer snacks or meals

Cafeteria la Roma opposite the plaza specializes in ice creams, cakes, pastries, snacks

Parrilla Asadero Rosan – north end of Los Sauces town – open 7 days a week

San Andres:

Restaurant La Placita (closed Sunday and Monday) and Restaurant San Andres (closed Wednesdays) are both in the square opposite the church.

Restaurant Rompecabos – Charco Azul – closed Wednesday

Restaurant Meson del Mar – Puerto Espindola – closed Tuesday

Facilities in Los Sauces Town

Hiper Dino Supermarket, one road back from main road

Spar Supermarket near main plaza

Banks – Santander and Caja Siete

2 x Chemists (Farmacia)

Taxi rank next to plaza

Police Station (Guardia Civil) –

Health Centre (Centro de Salud) – north end, just out of town. Open 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Nearest Beaches

Puerto Espindola

Playa Nogales, Puntallana

Playa Santa Cruz which runs the length of the city

Playa Bajamar, 2km south of Santa Cruz

Walking

GR130 Camino Real (linear walk) from San Andres or Los Sauces heading north to Barlovento via Las Cabezadas, a steep uphill road.  Or heading south on the GR130 to Puntallana..
Marcos y Cordero walk to the natural springs of La Palma