La Palma, Spain cruises
La Palma port guide
Fondly referred to as “La Isla Verde” (the green island) and “La Isla Bonita” (the beautiful island), La Palma is smaller than many of its popular neighboring islands, but it holds no less natural splendor.
The most north-western of the Canary Islands, La Palma is just 706 square km in size, making it an ideal size for guests hungry to explore much of what the island has to offer in a day.
Tucked away along the east coast of the island lies the capital city and port town of Santa Cruz de La Palma. A relaxed ambience greets you as you step off your cruise ship and into this delightfully sleepy town. Catch your first glimpse of the dramatic landscape beyond the harbor, with mountainous ridges rising up over 2,000 meters in the distance, while the town’s cobbled streets, quaint cafes and abundant boutiques beckon.
Top landmarks and sights in Santa Cruz de La Palma
A quiet town with a charming ambience, Santa Cruz is an ideal starting point for your cruise to La Palma, with plenty of colorful streets to explore, eateries to discover and a breathtaking coastline.
The cosmopolitan center of the town, Calle O’Daly is a vibrant cobblestones street lined with a rich assortment of local souvenir shops, clothing boutiques, furniture and vintage stores. There are also a number of cafes and restaurants to choose from as you rest your feet and enjoy a spot of people-watching in the warm afternoon sun with a cool refreshing drink.
Sitting parallel to Calle O’Daly, the Avenida Maritima lies along the picturesque waterfront, bordered by the impressive traditional 18th and 19th-century wooden balconies of the former merchant homes and fisherman dwellings. Now, the buildings are home to charming shops, bars and restaurants that enjoy uninterrupted views across the harbor.
Plaza de la Alameda
Stroll through the town center of Santa Cruz de La Palma and you will encounter the beautiful Plaza de la Alameda. The neatly manicured plaza is home to the Museo Naval – a concrete reconstruction of the Santa Maria – the flagship of legendary explorer Christopher Colombus.
Playa de Bajamar
You don’t need to stray far from the port to discover some of the island's most unique beaches. Playa de Bajamar lies just a short stroll away from the main cruise terminal and offers a pristine stretch of black volcanic sand, gently waving palm trees and azure blue seas sheltered from the rough Atlantic waves thanks to the breakwater of the cruise pier.
Things to do in La Palma
La Palma is a nature lovers' paradise, with lush greenery, Martian-like volcanic peaks and endless trails to explore.
La Palma Observatory
Sitting atop the Roque de los Muchachos, one of the highest peaks on the island, the La Palma Observatory is your gateway to the stars. The observatory is the largest astronomical observatory in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to the clear skies and outstanding weather conditions the island enjoys. During the day, guests can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the island. By night, weather permitting, the skies come alive as the glittering stars above perform their celestial show.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park
The beating heart of the island, the Caldera de Taburiente National Park is a jaw-dropping feat of natural wonder. Formed around 2 million years ago, the caldera stretches around 10km across and is now designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. Witness slow-moving waterfalls of cloud as they ascend and descend over the valleys and peaks of the caldera. Head to La Cumbrecita viewpoint for panoramic views of the lush green landscape or embark on one of the many walking trails around the national park.
Another popular spot with keen hikers and nature lovers alike, Fuencaliente sits close to the southern edge of Le Palma. An active but dormant volcano which last erupted in 1677, the landscape is dominated by the volcanic ridge of Cumbre Vieja. Various trails snake through the craters and crevices dug into the landscape, while atop the peaks guests can experience awe-inspiring views of the Martian-like landscape below.
These ancient laurel forests, also known as the "enchanted forests," are a natural wonder of La Palma, bursting with countless species of flora and fauna. Explore the moss-covered trees, listen to the sounds of nature, and immerse yourself in the mystical atmosphere of these lush green forests. Embark on self-guided walks into the heart of the forest, or climb the towering hills to reach the refreshing natural springs of Marcos and Cordero.
Eating and drinking in La Palma
Boasting a rich culinary heritage, cuisine on La Palma pulls inspiration from traditional Spanish, African and Latin American dishes.
A staple dish popular with locals and guests on the island, papas arrugadas are small wrinkles potatoes, grown locally and boiled in saltwater until tender. You will often find them served with a spicy mojo sauce made with fragrant garlic, paprika and chilli pepper.
Another local favorite comes in the form of queso palmero – a creamy, tangy and slightly salty cheese made from goats’ milk, typically served as tapas or as an accompanying ingredient in various traditional dishes.
For those with a sweet tooth, bienmesabe is a sweet dessert made from almonds, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon combined into a creamy, pudding-like texture. You’ll often find this moreish dessert served with a healthy serving of whipped cream on top.
Shopping in La Palma
La Palma is known for its local craftspeople and their expertise in producing ceramics, woodworks and various textiles which guests can find at local boutiques, markets and souvenir shops.
The island is also well-known for its “Miel de Palma”, a unique type of palm honey that is produced from the sap of palm trees.
Guests can discover an array of local wines, cheeses and other delicacies peppered throughout Santa Cruz de La Palma and other smaller local villages. Spend an hour browsing the rich sights, sounds and smells of the Mercado Municipal market, just a short walk from the cruise terminal.
Getting around, La Palma transport
The port is located just a short stroll from the city center of Santa Cruz de La Palma and the city itself is easy to explore on foot.
Hiring a car is an excellent option for experiencing more of what the island has to offer and car rental facilities are available close to the port.
Public busses run between the capital and the surrounding villages and main tourist areas and ferries are available at the port which runs between La Palma and the nearby Canary Islands.
Taxis can be found outside of the port and around the city with set prices for the main island attractions.
Santa Cruz de La Palma port facilities
A shuttle service is available from your ship to the cruise terminal with shops, restaurants and other facilities within walking distance.
La Palma quick tips
The official currency of La Palma and the Canary Islands is the Euro.
Tipping is not compulsory but is appreciated and many visitors to the island choose to leave between 5%-10% of the total bill amount for exceptional service or choose to leave an extra Euro or two per drink.
One of the main draws of the Canary Islands and La Palma, besides the natural beauty of the region, is due to its sub-tropical climate, with hot summers, mind winters and year-round sunshine.
The winter months are a popular time to visit La Palma, with temperatures averaging around 20 C between December and April.
August and September are the hottest months in La Palma with temperatures peaking at around 27 C during the day.