There are not many beaches on the island of El Hierro, and of those there are there is only one with white sand. This is called Playa Arenas Blancas and can be found on the El Golfocoast after Pozo de la Salud.
The beach has numerous rock pools, were the lucky ones can see sea urchins, crabs, fish and other wild life.
It is well worth taking time to explore this little beach and to watch the waves crashing to the shore. I would not recommend swimming from here as access to and from the sea is quite difficult. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and it’s best to enjoy the peace and quiet and just listen to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean.
As you explore why not take part in the #trashchallenge and clean up any plastic residue or other rubbish you may find. This coast can see some very rough seas and although the locals do clean it, there is always fresh items brought in on the tide.
After the beach combing, time for a change of footwear. I would not recommend flip flops for this walk. The path in places is made up of sharp volcanic rocks and pebbles.
The walk starts a short distance from the beach and is quite clearly marked. On newer maps this walk is now referred to as Arenas Blancas to La Puente. The walk is about 2 Km in total and the advice notices say it takes about 1 hour. I don’t think 1 hour allows time for taking in the scenery.
This part is quite sandy and virtually is a cliff top walk. The drops to the sea in places are breath taking. The ocean was not calm and the rolling waves had numerous colours within them. You need the sea to be a little rough to roll through the many archways that have been worn away by the constant pounding of the water. At times you can feel the mist from the waves settling on you, which is quite refreshing.
There seems to be numerous little islands off the coast, but it’s just the sea playing tricks with you.
The path now starts to rise and fall with the coast and becomes more volcanic. Occasionally you will find a few steps of varying depths. Keep stopping to take in the scenery and admire the rock formations of the outcrops. From the shore they look to be very smooth, worn away by thousands of years of pummelling from the ocean. Many appeared to have been chiselled away and appear like steps, but I am assured this is all nature’s hand.
As you round a corner you are met by one of the more spectacular sculptures and a line of arches. In the past I have spent hours here trying to get that perfect photograph of the waves crashing through them and throwing spray high into the air. The sound can be quite deafening.
You may think you’ve been stood on solid ground until you walk a little further and realise there is also an archway in the opposite direction, that you couldn’t see at first. In places the ocean has not yet broken through and the thunderous boom as the ocean pounds the rocks makes it impossible at times to hold a conversation without shouting. The colours of the ocean change from pale blue through to a deep blue and then appear green and even black depending on the force of the wave.
The landscape is for ever changing and you find yourself in an area were all the rocks have a red tone. I do not know if these volcanic rocks are a little softer, but the path has gone from being black to a pale sandy colour, which contrasts well with the red stones marking the edges of the path. I advise you to keep to the paths and not try to explore the landscape. The rocks are razor sharp and slice through your skin, like a knife through butter.
The headlands as you walk all seem to have different names. Punta Arenas Blancas, Punta de Arena, Punta de la Sal, Los Andenitas and Puntas de Gutiérrez. Other points are given as Playa de Juan Espinosa and La Baja de Pascual.
As you near the end of the walk you may find others who have taken the car to visit one of the emblematic icons of the island the Arco de Las Toscas.
Here everyone has to take the obligatory photograph and many of the more adventurous and sure footed actually walk out onto the archway its self for a more daring photograph.
Visiting this area around sunset can be quite spectacular as the sun sets of this coast.
It was time for a drink and a bite to eat to allow everyone to get there photographs before the return journey.
You can at this stage if you want, walk up the track onto the road and walk back to the start this way. The walking is easier and even underfoot.
I chose as always to walk back the way we had come as the scenery is different again.
The first part of the walk back as been described by many as what they imagine it would be like walking in a lunar landscape, or even on the planet of Mars. I do know that the heat the rocks throw out makes the walking warmer than you would perhaps expect.
The scenery is forever changing and you catch glimpses of caves and arches you hadn’t noticed on the outward journey. At first you get glimpses of the El Golfovalley with the sun’s rays catching the landscape between gaps in the later afternoon clouds. As you get nearer you get glimpses up the valley wall to Malpaso, Mirador de Jinama and Mirador de La Peña. Often the late afternoon sun can be seen glinting of the windows at the restaurant there.
Once back at the beach it’s time for one last litter patrol #trashchallenge before the journey home.
Just another day in paradise.