La Gomera

La Gomera is the second smallest island of the Canaries, 18 nautical miles away from Tenerife.  There are craggy volcanic mountains.  It is approx 22 kilometres in diameter.  It is steeply sloping and the highest peak is 1,487 metres (4,879 ft).
How to Get There. The simplest way to get to La Gomera from the UK is to get a flight to Tenerife South, (Approx 4 hours from London Gatwick) get a bus to Los Cristianos (approx 30 mins) then walk 20 minutes to the harbour – unless, of course, you get a taxi.  Then you catch the ferry.
Ferry.  There are 2 ferry companies, Fred Olsen which is an ‘express’ which takes 50 mins or Naviera Armas which takes an hour and is recommended for seeing Dolphins.  We used this company on our return journey, we did not see any dolphins.  We booked online, the fares vary and they offer a reduction for seniors.  There is a small airport with Inter island flights through Binter Canarias from North Tenerife.
What a welcome contrast from Tenerife.  If you have ever been to the island of La Palma then you will appreciate La Gomera.
We arrived during one of their four annual fiestas (in January 2018) had fun in the evening dancing in the street to a 10 piece band playing Latin type music.  There was another fiesta the following Saturday too. The downside of that is the music goes on until about 2am.
We stayed in an apartment for 2 weeks in San Sebastián, just a 15 minute walk uphill, lovely views across the town to the sea.  There are a couple of beaches, the harbour with boats to Tenerife, Valle Gran Rey and Playa de Santiago. This is the main town and most traditional.  Our favourite place on the island.  If you prefer a more modern and touristy destination then Valle Gran Rey would be for you.  I read that VGR is the best destination for the walks but we had no problems finding enough to do in San Sebastián and would say that it’s best to go with the type of destination you prefer to stay in.
Accommodation varies from small pensions to small hotels in the town and various types of apartments.  There is a parador in San Sebastian Parador Nacional Conde de La Gomera.
The local tourist info office is located next to the church.  They offer a free guided tour which takes about 75 mins and was about the history of Christopher Columbus.  You can get details of buses and a free walking map.  You can also purchase maps.
Car Hire.  There are a few desks at the Ferry Terminal.  The roads are pretty quiet.  We did not hire a car but it looks easy.
Bus Travel.  They do not operate the Bono card system here for a reduced fare.  The ticket is purchased on the bus.
We like to travel independently but there are a couple of companies that do tours starting at 40 euros. During our 2 week stay we covered most of the island by bus.  The maximum fare was 5 euros for a 1.5 hour trip.
Food and drink on La Gomera.  The food is simple and reasonably priced.  The usual types of coffee are available including the Canarian coffee Baraquito with or without licor, our favourite, prices range from 1.50 about 2.50 euros.  There are a few supermarkets in the town and also an indoor market where you can buy fruit, veg, bread, cakes, meat and rottiserie chicken.  There are a couple of cafes in the market area.  The indoor market is situated next door to the bus station which is about a 15 minute walk from the ferry.
We like to travel independently but there are a couple of companies that do tours starting at 40 euros. During our 2 week stay we covered most of the island by bus.  The maximum fare was 5 euros for a 1.5 hour trip.
Our first trip was to Vallehermoso which is the other side of the island.  The bus left at 10.30 and took just over an hour.  There are a few walks that leave from there.  In Jan 2018 the Botanical Garden was closed and seemed to be undergoing some renovation. It did not look like it would be opening soon. Just seems to be a small town with just a few food shops and a couple of bars.  The municipal market was just 1 fruit and veg stall.  The price of the bus was 4.50 euros each way.  We visited this town twice during our stay and it was much cooler here than our base in San Sebastian.
Walking: Vallehermoso to Playa Vallehermoso.  Approx 8km, easy walk.  We took the road just around the corner from the bus stop at the main square, between a supermarket and a cafe.  It took 40 mins to get there, just has a beach and a dilapidated castle structure.  Nowhere to get refreshments.  We then walked back and about 15 minutes along that road is a path to the left (starting with a tarmac road).  This leads you back to Vallehermoso on a more scenic off road route taking a little longer than the outward trip.
Walking: Our next trip was to Valle Gran Rey.walk 9.  We took the line 1 bus (the first one of the day) to Arure, it took about 1 hour 45. It went through the National park where it was cold and wet.   The walk down to Valle Gran Rey was clearly marked. It’s a 7km walk up and a long downhill, took us 2.5 hours, marked as 3.5.  There were some spectacular views.  In Valle Gran Rey we decided to wait for the 18.00 bus so that gave us a few hours to walk around.  A couple of nice beaches with good waves for surfing.  This is a more modern area with very few shops. An alternative way back was via the ferry but it left in the dark at 19.00.
Walking:  Los Roques to Playa Santiago. This was a very memorable walk.  Allow 4.5 hours.  Start by catching the line 1 bus to Los Roques (2 euros)At the bus stop (which is where the coaches stop for the viewpoint) go down the hill slightly and on your right you will see a red sign for San Sebastián, take that and it will lead to the start of this walk (numbered 23 the green and white markers).
Walking downhill from Los Roques through Benchijigua, Pastrana, Barranci de Santiago then onto the Playa.  There are 2 options for the return journey, either by boat or bus but watch the times. Unfortunately, the ferry was not running the day of our walk but it’s a pleasant bus ride back (3 euros).
Walking.  A short walk is up the hill from San Sebastián, sign posted from near the bus station.  There is a lovely walk all uphill and takes about 45 minutes, worth it as there is a good view of the bay from the top.
Walking.  Los Roques to San Sebastián via La Laja. Appx 13km downhill.  Line 1 bus. The first part of the walk is down through a pine forest until you arrive at La Laja where you join a quiet road that winds downhill to San Sebastián. This took about 4 hours. The last part it’s a busier road and leads through an industrial area. Make sure you take food and drink on this route.
We did not visit the Garajonay National Park, it is a densely forested area, misty and humid.  It can be very cold and misty so you need to be appropriately dressed.  There are many subtropical plant species and laurel forests.  There are several tracks to choose from.  This is on our list for our next visit as highly recommended by many walkers.
We felt sad when we had to leave La Gomera and intend to come back in the future.  A unique island with friendly people, it felt very safe and relaxing.
Our next trip will be to El Hierro

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