This La Gomera drive is one of the great Canary Islands road trips as it takes you from town to National Park and then on to a spectacular valley where the palm trees really do produce nectar.
The GM2 road starts in the cozy capital city of San Sebastian. Anywhere else it would be a small town but it’s as close as La Gomera has to a busy place. That said, don’t expect traffic unless someone in the car in front of you stops for a chat with a friend.
At first, you drive up through the lowlands of La Gomera with rocky terrain studded with candelabra plants. Look back for a beautiful view of San Sebastian with Tenerife island on the horizon.
However, things soon green up as you climb with little groves of palm trees by the road and flashes of green to the north.
Every palm tree in La Gomera has an owner as they are all tapped once every seven years for their sap. This is boiled down to yield miel de palma or palm honey, a dark and delicious syrup that is superb on pancakes and vanilla ice cream.
Stop at the Mirador Degollada De Peraza for a first real glimpse of the forests that cover La Gomera’s green heart and the Garajonay National Park.
Then continue along the GM2 until you come to the vast Roque de Agando.
A vast La Gomera rock often hidden in the mist
Even if you can’t see it, stop at the car park and wait because the rock, even though it is right by the road and 180 metres high, is often hidden in the swirling mists that cling to the top of the island.
One minute all you can see is white, the next the vast rock appears in a bubble of clear air. Then, often before you have time to snap a photo, it has gone again.
The tunnel of green in the Garajonay National Park
Stay on the GM2 and soon you drive through a tunnel of twisted tree heath trees, often with wisps of mist flowing over the road ahead of you. This is one of the most atmospheric spots in the Canary Islands that you can drive to and it’s just the fringe of the National Park forests to the north and north east.
Stay on the GM2 until it meets the GM1 and then turn south west towards Arure and Valle Gran Rey. Stop are Arure for a coffee and stretch your legs in this quiet hill town with a long history of making wine and tapping palm syrup from the local palm trees.
Then it’s back on the road and downhill until you reach the tunnel through the rocks and into Valle Gran Rey: The Valley of the Big King!
Timeless terraces and a sea of banana plants in Valle Gran Rey
It’s hard to look down on Valle Gran Rey and not think that you’ve just popped out in South East Asia. Every possible hillside is terraced with traditional stone walls and thousands of palm trees soar high over the little whitewashed houses.
Every curve on the road down to the sea reveals a new view of the valley, an attractive cluster of palms or a picturesque little house by the roadside. As you get closer to the ocean, the banana plantations take over; a sea of green before you reach the actual Atlantic Ocean.
What to do in Valle Gran Rey: Well, that’s the subject of the next post but you won’t go far wrong with a first swim at Playa de Vueltas, the little beach by the harbour at the south end of town.
The drive from San Sebastian to the sea at Valle Gran Rey takes about 90 minutes but plan for double the time to allow for viewpoints, coffee and perhaps a spot of lunch at a roadside restaurant.