Europe

Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera – keep it secret

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La Gomera – what is it? 

La Gomera is the second smallest Canary Island, with UNESCO status and its own unique biosphere. It’s accessible by ferry from south Tenerife at Los Cristianos port to its capital, San Sebastian. From San Sebastian to the small town of Valle Gran Rey, it’s about 50 minutes by ferry or an hour and forty-five minutes by bus. IMG_1990

What you will find on La Gomera:

Tranquillity.

Incredible natural beauty due to striking contrasts between the arid, scorched, volcanic terrain on its periphery and the sheer greenness of the landscape as you move inwards and upwards.

Its own unique biosphere.

Hiking trails and forests in Garajonay national park.

Year-round sunshine.

A decent (but not fantastic) range of restaurants, Canarian cuisine, some vegetarian options, an abundance of seafood and fish.

Home-grown bananas and mangoes.

Fabulous beaches (albeit rocky ones).

Exhilarating hairpin bends on cliffs with stunning views of the valleys below.

Locally owned artisan shops and boutiques.

Mostly German tourists.

A yoga and wellness scene. (Aragayall Yoga Retreat overlooks Argaga beach.)

The Tropical Fruit Garden, open for tours on Tuesdays and Fridays.

What you won’t find in La Gomera:

Traffic

Mass tourism

British/Irish pubs

Wild nightlife

International chains

Shopping malls

What I love about La Gomera:

I loved its natural beauty and the fact that it has an unspoilt, ‘hidden gem’ quality about it. It doesn’t have the brashness of the more commercial Canary Islands. If you want a quiet, relaxing break in the sun with plenty of nature trails and hikes, then this is for you.

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Vueltas beach

Reaching La Gomera

The island of La Gomera is accessible from Tenerife South  by ferry or aeroplane. The ferry from Los Cristianos to its main port of San Sebastian took me 50 minutes, and then I got another boat to Valle Gran Rey which took about 40-50 minutes also. Alternatively, the bus from SS to VGR takes 1 hour, 45 minutes but I’d missed it due to a 40 minute delay on my ferry so the boat did just fine. A taxi from SS to VGR takes close to an hour and, I’m told, costs about 80 Euro. Driving is also an option but it looks terrifying due to the hairpin bends and cliffs mentioned above.

Stopover at Tenerife

I would strongly recommend spending a night at Tenerife at each end of the trip where possible for the sake of comfort as there can be a lot of waiting around between flight and ferry. If this isn’t an option, there is a left luggage at the Ferry Terminal in Los Cristianos and it costs 3 Euro for each bag. I didn’t want  spend a day in the sun before my late plane ride home so I popped out to Siam Mall to do a bit of shopping and mainly to cool off. It’s mostly outdoor but the design ensures cool breezes throughout. A trip to Costa Adeje is also a possibility as it’s only about 5 KM from LC and accessible by taxi for about 10 Euro.

Restaurants to check out in Los Cristianos: La Mezcla, El Tagoro, El Cine.

Getting around La Gomera

The bus service isn’t bad but it’s somewhat limited. If you miss Line 1 bus at – say – 8:00 a.m, the next one arrives at 13:00, so it’s very important to look up the schedules before you arrive as this will affect your travel plans if you arrive by ferry and need to catch a bus. Car hire is also an option either from Tenerife or on the island itself.

Where to stay in Valle Gran Rey

If you want to stay on the coast, VGR has a stretch of a 25-minute walk from Vueltas to the Playa area. I stayed at Apartamentos Condesa at Vueltas overlooking the sea. Vueltas has a lovely little warren of side streets on a hill with restaurants and small gift shops. It’s right beside Vueltas beach and the ferry port. You’re also minutes from Spar, a very good pharmacy, the bus stop and La Salsa.

 

 

Playa could be considered the ‘main’ centre and it’s where you’ll find Tourist Information, a decent beach and Mango restaurant.IMG_1943

Between Playa and Vueltas is La Puntilla and this may well be the best spot as you’re equidistant between both.

La Calera is also nice but it’s very hilly so you need to be fit.

 

 

If you decide to stay inland you really need a car.

Restaurants in Valle Gran Rey

Naturally, there’s no shortage of standard Canarian seafood restaurants serving produce that’s been caught locally and then there’s a few restaurants that have a little bit more to offer. Two of these are La Salsa and Mango, both of which I really liked.

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Mojito sorbet at La Salsa

Things to see and do:

Swim all day on its many beaches. (The beaches in VGR are small and rocky so if you want a good swim you need to go out a good distance. I found the huge boulders and stones on the shore very uncomfortable so it’s not great for paddlers and people who just like a little dip.

Hike all over the island on well-marked nature trails with varying degrees of difficulty or challenge. Garajonay has a totally different climate from the rest of the island so you will need a rain-jacket as it’s cool and sometimes misty up there.

Boat trip to Playa Santiago, the Tropical Fruit Farm, the Sunday market, Mirador de Abrante, pit-stop villages dotted around the island, Casa Ephigenia restaurant at Las Hayas.IMG_1925

No doubt there is much more to the island of La Gomera than Valle Gran Rey. For a more luxurious stay, closer to San Sebastian Port, I’d love to try Hotel Jardin Tecina: https://www.jardin-tecina.com/en/#/.

 

 

 

 

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