El Hierro has numerous natural landscapes that have remained intact since its origins. An enigmatic island, shrouded in a veil of mysticism, that used to mark the end of the known world. Virgin nature with ancient forests and crystalline water brimming with underwater life that entices you to relax and disconnect. That is why it is known as the ‘island with soul’ and it is the same reason why its list of must-visits is full of natural spaces.
This little fishing village near the Mar de las Calmas Marine Reserve is a top-class attraction for all diving enthusiasts, as it provides the best conditions for scuba diving, in addition to all the services and an exceptionally friendly atmosphere.
But if diving isn’t one of your hobbies, you still can’t miss a visit to La Restinga on a tour of the ‘Meridian Island’. The little cove with calm, crystal-clear waters is an invitation to do some sunbathing and have a relaxing swim. When it’s time to eat, there’s lots to choose from, as there are a large number of restaurants offering a good range of El Hierro gastronomy, where the main menu item is, undoubtedly, freshly caught fish.
Waves have dug into the lava left by the flow that stretched all the way down to the sea and created this idyllic natural pool protected by an impressive arch of volcanic rock. Its calm, intense turquoise waters contrast with the dark rock and the white foam of the waves breaking against it from the outside, creating a unique setting that immediately captivates us.
It is quite easy to get to this dreamlike spot and, to make it even better, it has a sunbathing area too. Nonetheless, it is not busy, so a little quiet time in this paradise by the sea will help us forget about routine and disconnect from the stress of our day-to-day.
Punta de Orchilla
The westernmost tip of the island - and of Spain - hides beautiful landscapes and great stories. This natural area, part of the El Hierro Geopark, happened to be the last land that Christopher Columbus sighted before his arrival in the New World, and is the predecessor of Greenwich as the zero meridian. In fact, its famous lighthouse was built on it. A peaceful setting where you can watch the Atlantic melt into golden sunrises and orange sunsets. The Orchilla lighthouse is also an excellent spot for stargazing. Ideal for the end of a romantic getaway, or to let the imagination of the little ones run wild.
El Sabinar de La Dehesa
Do you know anywhere the trees bow down to the wind? Probably not, as it happens in very few places in the world. El Hierro is one of them.
On El Sabinar de La Dehesa, the trunks of the ancient juniper trees have been twisted by the constant action of the trade winds, creating a very peculiar forest that makes an impression on everyone who sees it. The landscape where this whimsical nature is found contains lots of brown colours from the volcanic earth in wonderful contrast with the green of the vegetation and the blue of the sky and sea that merge into a backdrop.
Lagartario and the Guinea Ecomuseum
El Hierro’s giant lizard is an endangered species that lives exclusively on this island. Conservation work has been going on for decades to try and guarantee the future survival of these magnificent reptiles, unique in the world. The Lagartario is a centre for breeding in captivity with the aim of returning specimens to the wild as they reach the appropriate age. It’s a wonderful experience to observe them close up and discover their particularities, and also to learn about the work done at the centre.
Next to the Lagartario is another must-visit place: the Guinea Ecomuseum, somewhere that takes us back through the island’s history through its local architecture. A tour of these stone houses shows us how homes and tools evolved over the centuries. A real journey into the past!
Mirador de La Peña
El Hierro is an island of viewpoints. The typical orography lends itself to our admiring the scenery from these amazing vantage points. One of the most impressive is the Mirador de La Peña, the work of the acclaimed Lanzarote artist César Manrique, who used his extraordinary talent and sensitivity to perfectly integrate this stone and wooden building, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, into the surrounding landscape.
At 700 metres above sea level, it houses a restaurant from which we can look out over spectacular views of the El Golfo Valley, with the immense blue ocean in the background, as we try some delicious dishes from El Hierro cuisine.
The ‘bimbaches’, the island’s ancient settlers, left us samples of their culture in carvings in the volcanic rock left behind by lava flows. This 5-century-old treasure can be seen on the slopes rising out of the Mar de las Calmas in the El Julan Cultural Park.
They are of such great value that you can only see the famous ‘Letreros’ and the other items in the archaeological area in the company of approved guides, with tours beginning at the Visitors’ Centre. An experience that connects us to the first settlers of this corner of the Earth. You can’t miss it.
Garoé – The Sacred Tree
The island’s ancient settlers, the ‘bimbaches’, had a secret: a magical tree from which they used to get the water they needed to survive, as it was scarce on the island. But, no, there was no tap at the Garoé or ‘Sacred Tree’. The water was obtained via a much better system whereby drops of moisture from mist would be captured in the leaves of the tilo tree (a tree typically found in laurisilva) in a phenomenon known as ‘horizontal rain’.
That tree was destroyed in a storm and another specimen was planted in its place to conserve the magic of that very special spot, permanently shrouded in mist and fog. You’ll love it.