Driving Tour: Parque Cultural La Zarza to El Remo

  • Start Parque Cultural La Zarza
  • End El Remo
  • Length 65km; four hours

This drive sweeps you down from the pine-scented forests of the northern La Palma upper levels through an ethereal, verdant, sometimes otherworldly and deeply peaceful landscape of fallow fields and snaking roads, wave-lashed offshore rocks, rural settlements, sweeping views down ravines and the long, blue horizon beyond before bringing you past banana plantations to the volcanic sands of Puerto Naos and El Remo.

After exploring the ancient petroglyphs at the Parque Cultural La Zarza, drive west along the LP-1 and stop off at the tourist office in Llano Negro at the intersection with the LP-112, where you can grab handy leaflets and maps. Hang a right and roll down the straight but then increasingly serpentine LP-112 towards the village of Santo Domingo by the sea. The journey down is beautiful, especially if it’s spring and you catch the almond blossom. When you arrive at the easy-going settlement, turn left along the LP-114 and follow the signs pointing right down the LP-1141 to the Puerto. At the end of the road is a small car park and a mirador with sublime views to the Roque de Santo Domingo and the Roque de las Tabaidas. If you’re hungry, backtrack towards the village itself, where you can find restaurants and cafeterias not far from the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de La Luz.

Continue southwest along the LP-114 to follow the coast before driving back 8km or so up into the hills to the village of Las Tricias, a pretty settlement of just a few homes and a small church on the main road. Further uphill, the LP-114 rejoins the LP-1 to continue south. Cruise through forests of Canarian pines and stop off when you see a lay-by to inhale their scent and to gaze down to sea. Consider a diversion down to the small town of Puntagorda to explore its historic centre and, further along, make sure you stop at the Mirador Barranco de Garome for views down the barranco (ravine). Continue down the LP-1 and hit the brakes in El Jesus beyond Tijarafe to snack on tapas at the Cervecería Isla Verde, with its blue-painted brewery right next door. Around 6km down the LP-1 brings you to the scenic Mirador El Time, where you can stop for a coffee or a beer and gaze down to the Puerto de Tazacorte below and watch hikers trekking down the path to the beach below or, in the other direction, trekking up to the mirador.

The road facing the mirador bends sharply to hug the rock face before looping scenically down; at the junction after the final bend, take the right along the LP-120 to follow the barranco towards the Puerto de Tazacorte 2km away. The lovely and sheltered black volcanic playa at the Puerto de Tazacorte is a lovely and welcoming sight; park the car and head north along Avenida el Emigrante, running parallel to the beach, to see the steps leading up towards the Mirador El Time on the aforementioned trek, behind the restaurants at the far end. The route is part of the GR131 (called the ‘Walking Stick’ due to its crooked shape) which starts here and climbs via the Mirador El Time to follow the Summit Ridge Route around the Caldera de Taburiente and then bends south to follow the Ruta de los Volcanes to Fuencaliente.

From Puerto de Tazacorte, drive along the LP-2 to the nearby historic town of Tazacorte. Admire the blue-and-white facade of the Iglesia de San Miguel Arcángel on Plaza de España and take time to wander the streets of this good-looking settlement and discover house museums such as the Casa Massieu (Calle Miguel de Unamuno; 11am to 8pm Sunday to Friday).

Leave Tazacorte along the Carretera la Costa running along the coast to join the LP-213 to turn right down to Puerto Naos with its alluring long length of black sand. If you fancy some dinner, pop over to the northern end of the beach and Restaurante Playa Chica, next to its sweet namesake cove. If you’ve planned things right, you’ll catch sunset to bring an end to the day. If you’ve still time, carry on to the quiet beach at El Charco Verde, with its small shrine to the Virgin Mary on the rock jutting out into the crashing waves, and then finally pull in at El Remo, the small settlement at the end of the road.