A tour through the quiet island of El Hierro
El Hierro is a quiet and attractive destination with a warm climate throughout the year. Just as with the rest of the Canarian archipelago, there are many places on the island to attract the cruise visitor. El Hierro, famous for the friendliness of its local people, has been designated a bioreserve by UNESCO thanks to the astonishing natural beauty of the area.
What follows is some essential information for cruise passengers that use El Hierro as a port of call.
Mar de las Calmas
Mar de las Calmas is popular with diving enthusiasts from around the world. In the area each year a widely recognised underwater photography competition takes place called Open Fotosub The beautiful fishing village of La Restina is a focal point for divers and has several dive sites, the most popular of which is called El Bajón. This impressive underwater mountain with vertical walls is home to an impressive display of fauna. There are fishes that range from large groupers to devil rays.
Mirador de La Peña
There are many amazing viewpoints on El Hierro but one that stands out is called the Mirador de La Peña. This landmark was created by the famous sculptor and architect César Manrique. It is located in Guarazoca, in the north of the island, and gives an impressive panoramic view of the El Golfo Valley whose geography is a result of an enormous landslide which took place thousands of years ago. As is common in Manrique’s work, the viewpoint is man-made but blends very tidily into nature. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden with many native species. A local restaurant called El Mirador de La Peña comes highly recommended.
Roque de la Bonanza
The Roque de la Bonanza, or the Rock of Prosperity, is one of the symbols of the island of El Hierro. It is a breath-taking geological formation, a solitary stone emanating from the ocean floor. Around the formation is a staggering collection of underwater life. From the nearby shore it is possible to see the silhouettes of the islands of La Gomera and Tenerife.
The sacred tree of Garoé
The sacred tree of Garoé is another symbol of El Hierro. Its intricate intertwining branches were sacred to the bimbaches, the first settlers of El Hierro. After being felled by a hurricane in the seventeenth century, it was replanted in 1949. A trip to the local visitor centre, el Centro de Interpretación Árbol Garoé, will allow cruise passengers to discover some of the legends which are associated with the tree.
Sabinar de La Dehesa
La Dehesa is a plain on El Hierro. And the Sabinar is a type of juniper tree native to the island. These trees contorted into extraordinary shapes by the wind are a firm favourite with visitors. A trip to the Dehesa plain can be combined with a stop off at the town of Sabinosa, in the municipality of La Frontera, where there are impressive views of the western part of the El Golfo Valley.
Pozo de las Calcosas
This location is a magical place with two beautiful natural pools that provide visitors with an immersive nature experience. The twenty or so houses nearby that complete the landscape have been built with lava stones and local plants. The pools of Calcosas, located in the municipality of Valverde, can only be reached on foot, but they are well worth a visit.
Charco Azul is a picture postcard destination, a haven of turquoise waters, a cove drilled into the ocean floor by thousands of years of waves. Any photograph taken from this swimming spot is sure to amaze Instagram. There are few locations in the world with such singular beauty.
The Forest of La Llanía
This charming forest is straight out of a fairy tale. Visitors will find it easy to enjoy all the pleasures of the local area by joining one of several simple and accessible trails. The landscape with mountains in the distance offers a mixture of thick forest and arid clearings. One of the larger clearings is called the Bailadero de las Brujas, the dance floor of the witches, because legend had it that no tree grew in the area thanks to the activity of the local sorceresses.
The Orchilla Lighthouse
This lighthouse is located in the most westerly point of Spain. Before the arrival of the modern world and the discovery of America, this spot was considered to be the end of the world. With wild looking cliffs below and menacing volcanoes in the distance, the Orchilla lighthouse is a monument to the victory of science over ignorance.
The Natural pools of La Maceta
The three natural pools of La Maceta are a secret of El Hierro. This spot is normally frequented by locals, so cruise visitors can take an insider’s tip and bathe in a wonderful spot which is surrounded by a landscape of astounding natural beauty. There are plenty of facilities available nearby to cater for visitors.
This cultural park combines nature and culture. It allows tourists to marvel at picturesque landscapes and gasp at the insights of archaeology. The park has been made to celebrate the legacy of the bimbaches, the original settlers of the Canary Islands, and a guided tour will take tourists on a voyage of discovery.