HOTEL HACIENDA DE ABAJO ~ Calle de Unamuno, 11 - 38770 Villa y Puerto de Tazacorte, LA PALMA, Islas Canarias (España)

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La Palma

La Palma

La Palma, one of the western islands of the Canaries, has as its capital Santa Cruz de La Palma and an area of 708.32 km² populated by 87,324 inhabitants in 2010, with a major presence of foreign residents.

With a very steep territory (La Palma is the third-highest island in the world in relation to its area), its highest point is the Roque de los Muchachos (2,426 metres above sea level), where numerous telescopes have been built, making the observatory located there one of the three most important of its kind in the world. Indeed, its geographical location in the Atlantic and its peculiar climate lead to the formation of clouds between 1,000 and 2,000 metres high, which act as a mirror and prevent the very little light pollution of coastal populations from hindering the observation of stars. In fact, these intensely blue and pure skies by day, jet black and full of twinkling stars by night, with breathtaking sunrises and kaleidoscopic sunsets of indescribable beauty, are one of the greatest attractions of La Palma.

Thanks to some truly unique landscapes, La Palma is nicknamed La Isla Bonita and even La Isla Verde (Green Island) for its lush vegetation, with amazing lava fields that reveal the island's volcanic origin and provide a sharp contrast between the black lava and the verdant forests of laurel trees (true relics of prehistoric flora) and Canarian pine. What's more, the bizarre phenomenon of horizontal rain, caused by trade winds that bring water-laden clouds to the peaks of the island, forms a mist cover that the vegetation condenses. Other scenic highlights include the farms of the Aridane Valley or the terraces that fall like waterfalls down the seemingly inaccessible cliffs of Puntallana, San Andrés and Sauces and Barlovento. The exotic banana plantations found here, cultivated as if they were small gardens, directly or indirectly generate 85% of the island's GDP and make La Palma the second-largest banana-producing island in the Canaries and the place with the highest yield per hectare in the whole world. Another great example of the enormous wealth of La Palma's landscape is La Caldera de Taburiente, a national park since 1954. Criss-crossed by the Caldera creek (the only continuous water flow on the Canary Islands) and surrounded by peaks between 1,700 and 2,400 metres high, such as the Roque de los Muchachos, this is the largest erosion crater in the world, formed more than half a million years ago by a violent landslide that opened up the volcano into the current caldera, which has a diameter of nine kilometres and a circumference of twenty-eight kilometres.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the whole island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002, following on from the same award to the area of El Canal and Los Tilos back in 1983, making La Palma the first island in the Canaries to boast such a place.

Meanwhile, in Tazacorte, an agricultural town par excellence, there's some of the best farmland in the Canary Islands, with swathes of lush banana trees whose vivid green contrasts with the intense blue of the Atlantic. Tazacorte, due to its location on the western coast of the island sixty metres above sea level, enjoys a mild year-round climate that's unique in the Canary Islands, with low rainfall and a pleasantly warm temperature every day. In fact, it's one of the sunniest places in the whole of Spain, which attracts the admiration of foreign visitors, unanimous in describing the climate as one of the best on Earth.

From an artistic point of view, La Palma cherishes what is probably the most important artistic heritage of Flemish origin in the Canary Islands, the result of trade deals with Flanders. In exchange for the coveted sugarcane that the island produced from the sixteenth century onwards, traders imported magnificent paintings and carvings in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that today adorn the numerous churches and chapels across the island. And, of course, there's a wealth of images and paintings from Andalusia, also the result of fruitful trade relations.

As for transport, La Palma has an excellent road network that has received substantial investment in recent years. By sea, large cruise ships call at the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma, as they will do at the new port of Tazacorte once the extension works have been completed. By air, the airport doubled its capacity in 2011 after its expansion, ensuring passenger transport with the rest of Spain and various cities in Europe.

With a select range of hotels and holiday properties, La Palma has successfully managed to fend off mass tourism, despite its amazing attractions. There are few large hotels and a widespread desire to avoid the construction of such properties, which would inevitably shatter the small island atmosphere. Visitors are largely nature lovers who travel to the island to enjoy the wealth of spectacular landscapes, totally unspoilt in most cases, where sky, sea and land form a combination of unspeakable beauty.

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