La Gomera Island



The island of La Gomera, second smallest of the Canaries, hovers off the southwest coast of Tenerife. It has a laid-back lifestyle, balmy climate, fresh fish and unpolluted waters (though few beaches). Go to the island to appreciate its unspoiled natural beauty.

Its capital, San Sebastian, whose brightly colored houses rise amphitheater-like above a harbor, is connected by regular ferry service with the Tenerife port of Los Cristianos. There is also a small airport with connections to the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Bus services in turn link it with other tiny Gomeran townships such as Vallehermoso in the north and Valle Gran Rey in the west.

La Gomera is a nice change from the bustle of the other islands. The terrain is wild and mountainous, serrated by deep gulleys and rising to its highest point at the 5,000-ft/1,524-m Alto de Garajonay.

The island's few beaches are of mainly black volcanic sand, but diving in the clear, deep Atlantic waters is a popular activity and there are some fascinating sea trips to be taken past surrealistic lava formations such as the Los Organos cliffs. You can also observe many species of marine life from the boat.

Unique to the island is its famed silbo (whistling language), by which locals have traditionally communicated with each other from one high point to another. It's still used today, though more often in the form of a folklore-style performance to entertain tourists. (The conventional day-to-day means of communication, as with the other islands, is Castilian Spanish.)

This island was Columbus's last stop for supplies before sailing to the New World. Purportedly, he chose La Gomera over the other islands so that he could dally with the Countesss Beatriz de Bobadilla, a beauty of ruthless Borgia-esque fame.

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