El Hierro still retains its mystery. The smallest
of the Canary Islands conserves its environment as nature first
created it. This is the hidden island.
Set on the very edge of the Atlantic, the first
man crossed the Island at Punta de Orchilla, marking the furthest
point of the known world before the Europeans discovered America.
This little island of only 287 square kilometres
and an altitude of 1,501 metres, offers a landscape of great beauty,
more than half of which is protected by the Natural Spaces Act.
Spectacular cliffs of up to 1,200 metres high and twisted lava formations
contrast sharply with the gentle rolling hills at its centre. The
abundantly lush vegetation is another of El Hierro's treasures.
Ntra. Sra. de La Candelaria Church in El Golfo
There is a large forest of Canary Island pines, wax
myrtles, tree heath and thousand-year-old Canary Junipers that have
been twisted into different whimsical forms by the wind. A visit
to El Hierro will take you back in time, but would be incomplete
without seeing the Salmor Lizard, whose origins date back to the
Tertiary Age. This is a protected species endemic to the Canary
Islands, and grows up to 70 centimetres.
El Hierro is a magic island, and Pozo de la Salud,
a prodigious spring with curative properties, adds to the magic,
as do the fascinating underwater formations seen just off the rugged
coastline. All this, plus the kind and friendly nature of the people,
makes a visit to the Island a unique experience.
El Hierro is the ideal place for any kind of sports
or leisure activity, but its spectacular sea beds undoubtedly make
it a paradise for diving. The coastal shelf drops off sharply to
nearly one hundred metres in many places close to the coast. The
marine life found in these waters is rich in tropical species like
the spiny globefish, black coral, trumpet fish and large shoals
of black sea bream, among others. In summer, you can see groups
of big rays, hammerhead sharks, tuna and grey triggerfish. The Marine
Reserve also has a large variety of caves, arches and volcanic tunnels,
with abundant vegetation cover and species of ocean fish of great
The typically calm waters of the Mar de Las Calmas
have also aroused diving interest in these coasts, which have 25
sites and several clubs and schools. Apart from underwater routes,
there are also terrestrial ones, which will take visitors to places
of archaeological and ethnographic interest - the invaluable rock
engravings and other aboriginal artifacts, crafts, folklore and
popular fiestas that survive thanks to the determination of the
people of El Hierro. The most important tradition is the Bajada
de La Virgen de Los Reyes (a religious procession with the statue
of the patron saint). This is celebrated every four years, enabling
visitors who follow the procession alongside the saint to also discover
the extensive network of paths throughout this Island.
The only island capital that is not on the coast is
Villa de Valverde. This fact gives it a different aroma, with the
scent of fruit and farm produce in summer. This is a town that sometimes
disappears beneath the thick mists blown in by the trade winds,
facilitating the growth of the marvellous Garoe. This Holy Tree
condenses water in its dense foliage, which then drips into the
hollows of its branches. The aborigines of El Hierro, the Bimbaches,
would catch it for their own use. The rest of the Island is characterised
by gently rolling hills that offer visitors an incomparable place
for relaxing. Amist the calm landscape, the enormous depression
of El Golfo suddenly appears. This is a broad semi-circle that drops
off into the sea from a height of 700 metres in places.
Finally, do not forget that one of the mysteries
that swathe El Hierro is the legendary island of San Borondon -
an island that has never been seen but which is, nonetheless, well
loved, at least in the imagination of the Islanders.
El Hierro is as rich and sweet as the pineapples
that grow in its fields - ripening in the sun and watered by the
mysterious mists that cover them from time to time. It is also strong
and robust, like their wines - produced in considerable quantities.
Special thanks to The Consejería de Turismo y Transportes del Gobierno de Canarias