Most visitors to the Island will pass through the village of San Andrés without giving it a second thought as they head towards El Pinar, La Restinga, Mirador de Jinama, Malpaso and other places of interest on El Hierro.
Many people visit the island and do not want to hire a car, for reasons I sometimes do not understand.
The roads on El Hierro are the quietest roads I have ever driven on and it’s not unusual to not see another vehicle on your travels.
If you are one of these or anyone else for that matter why not stay in or around the village of San Andrés. You will find numerous Rural houses (Casas Rurales) for rent in the area.
The village has a supermarket Terencios which is open 7 days a week, as well as a couple of other retail outlets.
There are three bar/restaurants serving local Canarian food.
Bar Restaurante La Igualdad is the first as you enter the village from the direction of Isora. This is also sometimes referred to as “The Casino” (Not to be confused as a gambling establishment).
It usually has a good selection of tapas in the main bar area which is usually full of locals. Ask to go into the restaurant if you want peace and quiet. Menu varies.
Brasero Sanjora is almost next door and this has an open grill where you can smell the meat cooking. Serves plain, simple dishes and of course mixed grill.
Lastly there is Casa Goyo. Which has an unusual layout for a restaurant and is made up of numerous little rooms were they serve you your meal. The bar area is tiny and can get very noisy. The small room at the front can also be noisy when the card and domino players are in. The old doors within the building suggest some of the dining room may have once been stables. Again good traditional food served.
Things to do
1. Visit the old abandoned village La Abarrada.
The old village of La Abarrada is within easy walking distance of San Andrés.
Follow the signs for the Ruta del Agua and after about 1 Km on the dirt track you will see another track which leads off to your right up the hill. Take this track up towards the lonely pine tree. It’s a gentle climb taking you to the back of the old cement works.
Here the track becomes volcanic cinders and climbs a little before dropping down to the outskirts of the old village. You can still see the garden walls and many shells of the old long since abandoned houses. This village must have been unique on the island as you have no views of the sea! It is believed they built it so that passing pirate ships wouldn’t be tempted ashore. In the twentieth century when they built better roads the locals gradually moved out and built new home in San Andrés.
There are numerous paths to follow around and explore. Some of the buildings have been used as animal shelters and some have recently been re roofed, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Once you’ve explored there are a few ways back to base. You can follow the track that follows the cement works and brings you back out onto the road at the roundabout for Isora and then a short walk back to San Andrés. Or follow the path to the left which brings you out at the bottom of the hill that leads to the sacred tree.
2. Visit the Arbol Santo, or as it’s referred to more often as Arbol de Garoé
This local visitor centre is again within easy walking distance of San Andrés. Follow once more the path for the Ruta del Agua. This will take you past one of the paths from La Abarrada. Take the route up the hillside which is tarmacked for a short distance. Once at the top of the climb it levels out before dropping sharply down to the visitor centre. Check the opening hours before visiting. There is a small charge now for entering.
The tree stands alone in a sheltered area on the side of the Ventejís volcanic cone. It is different from all the other trees on the island and I can only describe the leaves as being very similar to that of an oak tree, though I am assured it is not. The location is good for catching the moisture sweeping up the valley and the ground is such that deep puddles (wells) formed which gave the earlier inhabitants a fresh supply of water. Many of these wells still survive today and are protected.
3. Camino PR-EH 8 San Andrés – Mirador de Jinama
This walk starts at the side of the building which has Itv written on it. (Local MOT station)
Take the dirt track that runs up the side of the building and walk through all the eucalyptus trees. As you meet the Camino de la Virgen, take a left turn and after a few yards you will see a track of to the right. Enjoy the signposting distances!
At the next T junction in the path again take the left turn. The path here has drystone walls on either side and very often cattle or sheep in the fields. You will find that the path meanders round and upwards giving you spectacular views across the countryside around San Andrés. Take time to take in the scenery and do not forget your camera. At the end of the dirt track Jinama is a short distance up on the left.
You have a number of options back to the village from here depending on how energetic you feel. (Maps of the walks are readily available on the Island and are free)
4. Visit San Andrés in the springtime
The middle of March through to the Middle of April, or even after is one of the most colourful times of the year to visit San Andrés. The wild flowers put on a spectacular display each year. No two years are the same and it is as though the fields are competing with each other to put on the best display. You will have to explore to find the best display. Quite often the fields near the roundabout do not disappoint and you will see all the cars parked and people running round the fields looking for the most colourful shot. I consider myself very lucky to be able to witness nature at its best each springtime.