El Hierro shows the other side of the Canary Islands
Sleepy villages, lonely hiking trails and bathing spots that you have all to yourself: only a few tourists know El Hierro. The small Atlantic island is not only original, but also surprisingly diverse.
| Reading time: 3 minutes
Dhe island trembled, shaken for months by hundreds of small earthquakes, until finally several chimneys opened on the seabed off the coast, from which magma emerged. Fountains of water and steam shot up, ash drifted in the sea, there was a smell of sulfur, the fish died. As a precaution, the residents of the coastal town of La Restinga were evacuated. The submarine volcanic eruption that occurred almost ten years ago off the coast of El Hierro brought the westernmost Canary Island into international headlines at the time.
“The world seemed to end in La Restinga. After the eruptions came to an end and the southern part of El Hierro remained intact, the place became a ghost town. Fishing and diving were no longer possible for a long time, ”says travel book author Rolando N. Grumt Suárez, describing the events of that time.
But unexpectedly quickly “the volcanic eruption turned out to be a stroke of luck”. Because nutrient-rich deposits created a strong algae growth, as a result of which marine animals and fish developed well. This not only ensured the existence of the fishermen, but also soon attracted diving vacationers to the island again.
El Hierro – a small but versatile island
Outstanding diving areas are by no means the only thing that makes El Hierro a delightful travel destination. Rolando N. Grumt Suárez shows how surprisingly diverse the small Canary Island is in his recently published travel book “111 places on El Hierro that you have to see”.
In it, the Canarian-German author presents a multitude of fascinating and unusual places on the island that would often be difficult to find without such clues. His portrait gives a vivid impression of the uniqueness and charm of the island in the Atlantic.
Hikers will find a good network of paths of varying degrees of difficulty on El Hierro. Anyone who is out and about here will be amazed at how strong landscape contrasts can be in such a limited space. The author puts it in a nutshell: “El Hierro is a miniature continent in a very small area”.
The tours lead along cliffs, through inhospitable lava landscapes with accessible caves, original small villages and unique juniper or laurel forests. Again and again, the hiker is offered breathtaking views over the island and the sea – and not only at the miradores, the viewpoints that are spread over the whole island.
Time seems to have stood still on El Hierro. There is no mass tourism with large castles and overcrowded beaches like on the neighboring islands. Only a few beaches line the island, some of them are difficult to access, and a strong ocean current does not always make swimming possible.
But the island scores with a whole series of natural sea basins for swimming, some of which the author presents. If you take a bath here, protected from the surf of the Atlantic, you can watch the waves crash on the rugged coast.
The volume is written personally and at the same time gives a comprehensive overview of the island’s charms. Each of the 111 chapters is illustrated and provided with practical tips. This is all the more useful because you can travel a long way on El Hierro without meeting a person.
If you want to end the day with typical Canarian food and local wine, you will find recommendations here as well as for accommodation – they range from the “smallest hotel in the world” to privately rented country houses and the only spa hotel in the Canaries. At the moment it is not a volcanic eruption that is keeping tourists away, but the corona pandemic. After all, the travel warning for the Canaries and thus also for El Hierro has now been lifted. A glimmer of hope.
The pictures shown come from the book “111 places on El Hierro that you have to see” by Rolando N. Grumt Suarez, Emons Verlag, 240 pages with 111 illustrations, 16.95 euros.