Wonderful La Gomera is considered the natural jewel of the Canary Islands with its lush green hills, deep ravines and beaches lined with palm trees. Besides the natural beauty, all of these features also combine to make hiking on La Gomera the best anywhere in the Canaries, not to mention one of the best hiking destinations in all of Spain. Of course, like all the Canary Islands, its terrific beaches are also popular with La Gomera holiday makers and budget hippies alike.
Located well out into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, this gorgeous little island reputedly was named after “Gomer”, the biblical son of Noah. Although there seems to be some dispute over this, even among locals. Nonetheless, in modern times the name has become synonymous with amazing hiking, as this mountainous gem is lined with superb hiking trails. La Gomera is the second smallest of the Canary Islands at only 370 square kilometres and with a population of just 23,000.
Now, before we get to some detailed descriptions of the best La Gomera hiking trails, here are some of the many must-see destinations and recommended activities on La Gomera.
La Gomera Map
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La Gomera Highlights
San Sebastian de la Gomera
The main population centre of La Gomera (despite having less than 7,000 inhabitants), this pleasant town has a scenic promenade, classic walkable old town and some great views of the surrounding hills and bays.
Valle Gran Rey
The most popular base for beach lovers and those coming to La Gomera to enjoy the sun and nightlife (although it certainly doesn’t compare with Tenerife in that regard).
A beautiful, remote valley with stupendous views from almost every angle, Vallehermoso is a very good alternative to the functionality of San Sebastian or beach hedonism of Valle Gran Rey. It is not located on the coast (or close to a beach) but the scenery is unbeatable. If you only have time for one location on La Gomera, this is the one we would recommend.
Smaller and lesser known than the others on this list, quaint little Hermigua is once again tucked into a picturesque valley (not quite on the beach, but close) and it retains its traditional charm maybe more than any other La Gomera town.
La Gomera Beaches
It wouldn’t be a Canary Island if it didn’t have some amazing beaches. The most popular – and probably best – beach on La Gomera is Playa de Valle Gran Rey. With a gorgeous location at the base of the stunning valley of the same name, this pretty black sand beach is where most visitors end up when it is time to relax and soak up the sun.
Another beautiful and popular beach is Playa de Santiago, on the south side of the island. Home to the famous 4-star Hotel Jardin Tecina, Playa de Santiago has an excellent selection of bars, restaurants and shops.
In the main town of San Sebastian, nice Playa de San Sebastian overlooks the harbour, while just on the other side of the port, tiny little Playa de la Cueva features phenomenal views across the sea to Tenerife and iconic Mount Teide.
On the northeast corner of the island close to the pleasant, cultural favourite of Hermigua there are three nice beaches – scenic Playa de Agulo, quiet Playa de Santa Catalina and comfortable Playa Hermigua. We spent a week in the area exploring all the awesome hiking trails along the rocky shores and enjoying the quiet solitude. There are even the partially standing remains of an old port from its time as an important harbour. A fourth beach, Playa de la Caleta, is a nice, sheltered spot perfect for picnic or calmer waters for swimming.
Garajonay National Park
Encompassing the vast majority of La Gomera’s mountainous interior, fabulous Garajonay National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Filled with photogenic mountains, green valleys and fabulous hiking trails, this is the heart of La Gomera’s hiking culture.
More tradition than destination, the renowned La Gomera Silbo whistling language has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a way of transforming Spanish into whistle form (“el silbo” means “the whistle”) in order to communicate over long distances, traditionally between and across valleys. When done correctly by skilled Silbo Gomero speakers it has a range of up to 5 kilometres. And don’t worry, while it is certainly possible to experience Silbo whistling performances while on La Gomera, most people stick with regular spoken Spanish in casual conversation…
Hiking on La Gomera
We have spent a considerable amount of time hiking in Spain on a pair of Caminos de Santiago, once doing the Camino Frances and later a combination of the Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo. But La Gomera ranks right up there, with arguably better scenery. We had just finished spending a terrific month of hiking on Tenerife but La Gomera’s steeply sloped terrain leading from the remains of an old volcano in the middle of the island down to the rocky and expansive coastline is why it is generally considered the best of all the Canarian islands when it comes to hiking.
With more hikes to choose from than Tenerife, and far less online information, we chose to purchase a highly recommended guidebook: La Gomera: The Finest Coastal and Mountain Walks (Rother) and found it very useful. It was excellent for helping us choose which routes to hike from among the surprisingly wide variety of trails. The only thing every hike had in common – lots of hills. I challenge you to find a flat spot anywhere on La Gomera. The maps weren’t the most detailed, but we typically used Wikiloc GPS app to get a more specific look at turns and such.
- Bailadero – Los Roques – La Laja (Wikiloc 21434204)
9 km loop, 3-4 hrs – strenuous
Stunning hike along the Roques ridge, then way down to La Laja (cute village), then all the way back up to Mirador Bailadero on some rough, rocky trail. Great views all the way but the stretch between La Laja and Bailadero is not for the faint of heart. Steep, with lots of scrambling and slippery in parts. I definitely do NOT recommend doing it in the opposite direction. Much easier going up that part than down. And don’t try it in the rain. Besides all that, thought, this was probably the most scenic hike we did on Gomera. We started in Bailadero to do a little bit of the uphill at the beginning instead of all at the end, but there is more parking at La Zarcita if all three spots are taken at Bailadero. All in all, well worth it if you’re up for the challenge. Like hiking in the Rockies, but with cacti growing next to the pine trees.
- Barranco de Guarimiar (Wikiloc 21394960)
11 km loop, 4 hrs – strenuous
Spectacular hike starting at the cute little village of Imada and heading down the Guarimiar gorge. Long, scenic downhill, tough, scenic uphill, then a bit of road walking through Targa and Alojera, then some more great views on your way back into Imada. Amazing hike, but I wouldn’t try it in the rain, if you are uncomfortable hiking down steep rocky trail or don’t like heights.
13 km loop, 4-5 hours – strenuous on the climb to Santa Clara, the rest is easy
A long, tough hike with great views basically the whole way. It is also handy because you can start and end in Vallehermoso. From Vallehermoso to Ermita Santa Clara on foot you gain about 500 m altitude over 4 km hiking steadily uphill through some nice valleys and gorges, but we did it a little differently than most. Laynni wasn’t feeling great so we drove up to Ermita Santa Clara (the high point of the hike) – about half of which was on the highway, the last half on a tiny dirt path that runs precariously along the outside of a steep ridge. We did it in a tiny rental car, so it was manageable, but avoid this if you don’t like driving on the edge of a cliff. From Santa Clara it is a pleasant gradual descent along a ridge with expansive views (including Mount Teide on Tenerife if it is clear enough) for about an hour when you reach a particularly good viewpoint, then you head straight down to the bottom of the valley with good views back up toward Vallehermoso. It is not particularly difficult but you’d want to use caution if it happened to rain (sensing a theme here?). Then an easy uphill stroll from near the beach back up to the town. Of course, I still had the big climb back to Santa Clara to get the car, but you will probably get this part taken care of while your legs are still fresh. Great hike with views of the ocean, valley, ridges and distant Teide.
- Chipude to La Fortaleza (Wikiloc 21372766)
5 km return, 2 hrs (including time at the top) – moderate
The views to exertion ratio on this one is terrific. The climb up La Fortaleza is steep and rocky but short. You’ll have to do some clambering and will find yourself pretty close to some long drops, so it is not a hike for those with limited agility or a fear of heights. For the rest, though, the ridge at the top is almost a rock bridge, and the views from each side of the summit are pretty amazing. Make sure you follow the trail all the way to the end to get the best panoramic.
The guidebook starts this hike in the little village of Chipude, and that is probably where it is easiest to park, but if you want to shorten it further you could easily knock off another kilometre each way by driving past Chipude to where the trail starts to climb. You can’t really miss it.
- Agulo – Mirador Abrante – El Roquillo (Wikiloc 21410495)
7 km loop, 2-3 hrs – strenuous
You have to climb straight up the side of the cliff to get to the mirador, but the views are outstanding the whole way. Then there is the glass-bottom mirador and restaurant (and road and parking lot). After continuing on a little bit past the mirador you can choose to continue up to the visitor centre (which adds a kilometre each way), or can just cut across to El Roquillo. The way down isn’t too steep in this direction, but if you go the other way it definitely would be. Altogether, a nice hike to and from a nice village.
- Alto de Garajonay from El Contadero (Wikiloc 21650241)
2.8 km return, 1 hr (from El Contadero) – easy
Maybe the most famous spot on the island, it is definitely the highest. The hike is easy – either an hour loop from El Contadero or 3.6 km each way from Pajaritos – but this is all about the big views at the top so make sure you tackle it on a nice clear day. If the skies cooperate you’ll see El Hierro, La Palma and maybe even Gran Canaria, while Mount Teide sits there in plain sight right next door. 360 degree views like this aren’t usually so easy to get to.
- Playa de la Caleta – Punta San Lorenzo (Wikiloc 21457096)
5 km return, 1 ½ – easy
Easy, scenic hike along the cliffs just next to Hermigua. Views of the beach, Teide and Tenerife, and the ruins of a former dock at the end. The trailhead is at the last hairpin just before the beach and there are a couple parking spots. The drive in is pretty sketchy but if you’ve done much driving on La Gomera then you’ll be used to that by now.
- Raso de Bruma (Wikiloc: 25359090)
4 km return, less than an hour – easy
Short hike through tropical forest. The first time we tried to do the Barranco de Guamiriar hike the trail was clouded in but we set out anyway, then after it started raining and we received a number of dire warnings from a (possibly crazy) old farmer digging seemingly random holes we turned around and went back to Imada, to be saved for another day. Since the clouds didn’t seem to be letting up anywhere else, either, we chose an easy forest hike near the road instead. There were a couple miradores which provided expansive views of whiteness, but these would probably be more interesting in better weather. The mossy trees and thick undergrowth were suitably fascinating, though, and well worth a short stop on your way to or from Vallehermoso. It starts near the Las Cruces bus shelter about 1 km north of the Las Hayas turn-off on GM 2.
So there you have it, a nicely varied cross-section of hikes in all different areas around the island. Obviously, there are dozens more worthy choices and, honestly, with an island built like this you’d be hard-pressed to find a poor hike.
La Gomera Weather
The Canary Islands are sometimes referred to as the “Land of Eternal Spring” because of the mild temperatures they enjoy all year-round. With average highs/lows only varying from 16/11C in January to 22/16C in August, La Gomera boasts extremely pleasant weather at any time of year. There is essentially no rain in the summer and just slightly more in the winter, which is one of the reasons it is such a great place to hike.
Where to Stay on La Gomera
Casas rurales (country houses) are a very popular form of accommodation on La Gomera. They are typically rustic self-catered homes set in quiet, scenic locations. Here are a few of the best casa rurales on La Gomera:
Hotel Rural Casa Lugo is a highly recommended choice very close to Playa de Agulo with modern amenities and a gorgeous setting.
Hotel Escuela Rural Casa Herrera in Hermigua is only about 30 minutes by foot from Agulo Beach and provides comfort in a classic package, sporting terrific views from the terrace.
La Casita de Papel is found on the scenic slopes of Valle Gran Rey, not far from the beaches yet feeling very much like a traditional cottage.
Casa La Terraza in Vallehermoso is more of a hotel than cottage but it is a comfortable, budget option close to hiking trails and the beach.
Casa rural Los Organos de Arguamul, down at the mouth of Vallehermoso, has a private beach, awesome sea views and is filled with modern amenities.
There are also some excellent beach hotels if you prefer to be close to the waves:
Hotel Playa Calera is a stylish, luxurious beach hotel on Playa de Valle Gran Rey with an infinity pool and incredible views at mid-range prices.
Hotel Jardin Tecina on Playa de Santiago might be the best hotel on the island, although the prices are still comparable to an average hotel in downtown Madrid. Featuring immaculate gardens and pools with amazing views of Mount Teide on Tenerife, Hotel Jardin Tecina is the place to treat yourself on La Gomera.
Where to Eat on La Gomera
In San Sebastian, agApe Bistro has wonderful Mediterranean food and a well-deserved reputation for outstanding fondue.
Colorado, in Vallehermoso, is often fully booked but if you can get a table this impressive place may just be the highlight of your La Gomera holiday.
Located right on Playa de Valle Gran Rey, La Casa de la Playa has a simple name and offers simple, affordable food. It is a comfortable, friendly place to spend a few hours sipping on a local Dorada beer (or 3) while enjoying the view of the ocean and watching the world pass by on the malecon (he said, remembering fondly).
For something a little different, check out the Asian specialties at FuFu close to Playa de Santa Catalina near Hermigua.
Ferries from Tenerife to La Gomera
Two companies service the short ferry run (1 hr) between Tenerife and La Gomera.
Fred Olsen ferries run 3 times per day between Los Cristianos in Tenerife and San Sebastian de la Gomera (€41/person + €20/car).
Naviera Armas also makes the same trip 3 times per day on a slightly different schedule and for about €1 cheaper.
Flights to La Gomera Airport
The international La Gomera Airport (GMZ) is located close to Playa de Santiago on the south side of the island (roughly a 20-minute drive from San Sebastian). Many different airlines fly to Tenerife, where you will change to Binter Canarias airline for the short jaunt over to La Gomera.
Getting Around La Gomera
There is a network of La Gomera buses that make it possible to travel between towns without your own vehicle and the tickets are quite cheap (€1-5). However, the routes aren’t as frequent as most Europeans are used to and getting to trailheads and some of the more out of the way spots can be next to impossible.
We recommend renting a car either at the ferry terminal in San Sebastian or the airport in Playa de Santiago so you have more freedom and can explore the island more thoroughly.
What to Take
It is always important to be prepared when venturing out hiking, especially in the mountains. Obviously, long, challenging hikes require more advance planning and safety gear but even for short hikes you still need to be properly equipped. Dressing properly will make the experience much more enjoyable and carrying useful safety supplies can ensure you are prepared in case mishaps take place (as they tend to). Here is a quick checklist of items we alway carry, wear or use while hiking:
A good day pack is essential. We have recently become big fans of Gregory packs and would recommend the Gregory Miwok 18 for short hikes or when your gear is split between two people. And the Gregory Optic 48 for longer hikes. I know 48L sounds big but it is a super-light and comfortable pack that cinches down smaller when it isn’t full.
Water is obviously important and we go back and forth between using a Camelbak bladder and just a couple of water bottles. We also keep a few Aquatabs with us at all times just in case we ever run low and want to treat some river or lake water. They are tiny and every now and then come in quite handy. It is always a good idea to carry some snacks as well. It never hurts and sometimes hikes end up taking longer than planned.
Laynni always hikes in compression leggings that she swears by for the extra knee, hip and muscle support.
Layers, baby! You never know what kind of weather nature will throw at you so it pays to be ready for anything. Obviously, the forecast might change what you carry but if there is any doubt (and there almost always is in the mountains), bring extra.
And just in case we are so impressed by the scenery that we decide it’s worth a photo with both of us in it we always carry the tiny, extremely handy octopus tripod.
Of course, a comprehensive first-aid kit is key to make sure those “mishaps” are simply inconvenient and don’t ruin your whole day.
Other useful items that we sometimes carry and sometimes don’t, depending on the hike:
Well, that probably covers most of it, although somehow we have even more to say on the matter in our Day Hike Packing List post. Check it out if you’re looking for even more detailed info.
La Gomera may not be the biggest or most popular of the Canary Islands but it is definitely the best place to go if you love unspoiled nature. The hiking on La Gomera is obviously spectacular, and with several unique regions, endless beautiful valleys and just enough sunny beaches to fit the bill on your days off from hiking, La Gomera deserves to be at the top of the list for your next Spanish holiday.
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