La Palma, Spain

Day Two: Into the Volcanocaldera-de-taburiente

La Palma’s centrepiece is its colossal, 8km-wide Caldera de Taburiente, created by millennia of erosion on a vast volcanic cone. Rise early to drive or bus across the island to Los Llanos de Aridane and the carpark at Los Hoyas. From there, shuttle taxis ply the road up to the Mirador de los Brecitos, which is the start of the island’s most spectacular walk – a not-overly-demanding 14km.

Descend gently along a winding path through Canarian pine forest, peeling off to admire Benahoarite petroglyphs and peer up at the jagged crater rim above, watching for choughs wheeling overhead. Learn more about the crater’s natural history at the Playa de Taburiente visitor centre, then plunge into the Barranco de las Angustias (Ravine of Anguish), beneath the phallic rock outcrop of Idafe, worshipped by the ancient Benahoarites. Detour to the red, green and yellow Cascada de Colores (Waterfall of Colours), then return to the carpark and Los Llanos.

Discover more about the island’s early cave dwellers at the fascinating Museo Arqueologico Benahoarita in Los Llanos, and wander the town’s old centre, enjoying al-fresco dining at Tasca La Fuente.

Day Three: Reach for the Stars

Clear skies and minimal light pollution create ideal conditions for stargazing – La Palma was UNESCO’s original Starlight Reserve. At its observatory, perched at the island’s highest point (2,426m Roque de los Muchachos), arrays including the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope plough the skies. Get up early for a morning guided tour and fine views.la-palma-observatorio

It’s all downhill from here – literally. Drive east along the stunning coast for a cooling dip in the lush natural pools at Charco Azul. Then, if you still have energy to burn, take a hike through the lush greenery of Los Tiles Biosphere Reserve, just inland past Los Sauces.

Discover how volcanic soil yields the best malvasia grapes with a tasting at one of the island’s top bodegas.

If time permits, shoot far south to Fuencaliente, home to several excellent wineries as well as the mighty Volcán San Antonio (don’t worry: it last erupted in 1677).

Round off your stellar short break with an evening’s stargazing tour with Ad Astra, to be dazzled by constellations, planets and the shimmering sweep of the Milky Way galaxy.

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