Playa Santiago is a small, ocean-side resort with a sleepy village centre and a long dark cobblestone beach with calm waters. The place is so quiet that often the only noise is that of the wind brushing through the banana leaves, waves slapping the shore and the cock-a-doodle-dooing of cockerels.
Until the 1960s this area was the busiest centre on the island, with factories, a shipyard and a port for exporting local bananas and tomatoes. But the farming crisis hit hard, and by the 1970s the town had all but shut down, its inhabitants having fled to Tenerife or South America. In recent years, tourism has brought new life to the town and a huge luxury-hotel complex owned by Fred Olsen is doing more than its fair share to bring visitors this way.