Volcanic underwater world
In October 2011 the seabed near the southern coast of El Hierro shook and magmatic rocks emerged from its interior. The last earthquake of some intensity (5.1 degrees on the Richter scale) occurred on December 27, 2013. From then on that crisis was considered over, calm returned.
The underwater volcanic cone is located 88 meters deep, in the Mar de Las Calmas, with a suggestive name. The 11,000 inhabitants of La Restinga, the closest town, have become accustomed to living with the phenomenon and assure that tremors below 3 degrees, the most frequent, go completely unnoticed. But the COVID-19 pandemic has hit again, this time with great harshness, the tourist industry, the most important on the island.
The Blue Puddle
El Charco Azul is another of the dream places of this enchanted island. These are two natural pools between rocks that overlook the open sea in which human intervention has been minimal. The momentum of the Atlantic waves stops at the cliffs, but it remains strong enough to fill the pots or pools with constantly renewed water. Bathing in this place dominated by blue and emerald tones is totally safe. But to get to this paradise you have to earn it. And the way to do it is to go down the cliff by its perfectly laid out stairs, which can take the slowest ones something like half an hour.
Laurisilva and junipers
Due to its flora, the island of El Hierro is divided into two well-defined areas, which are more attractive. To the north the laurel forests, holm oaks, beech and conifers. To the west the junipers.
The laurel forest, which looks like the setting for a fairy tale about goblins and elves, or an intrigue movie, is a mysterious-looking green cloud forest. The junipers, in a drier environment, are whipped by the strong wind and present impressive twisted shapes.
Although other similar species have been discovered in Tenerife, La Gomera and Gran Canaria, the El Hierro lizard is a unique endemic species that survives mainly in the Roques de Salmor. With a strong body, dark color, long tail and broad head, it can measure up to 60 cm. It is in danger of extinction so the Government of the Canary Islands promotes various programs for its reproduction. In the Risco de Tibataje there is a breeding center that can be visited.
The tree from which water flows
For a long time it was believed that the Source Tree, or Holy Tree, was just a fable. The ancient inhabitants of the island said that water flowed from it. The truth is that its leaves were capable of capturing the dew of the mists and the drops of the little drizzle, which the Guanches collected. According to studies, the last of these specimens, a type of laurel, disappeared in 1610, uprooted by a hurricane. They were at a height of about a thousand meters, and although today they have disappeared and are only represented on the island’s shield, we can still see the landscapes in which it grew up, almost always covered in clouds.
The beach of Las Playas
With the name of Las Playas a wide semicircular cove is known in which we find a single huge beach of more than 6 km. It is a protected natural monument dominated by the Risco de los Herreños of more than a thousand meters of altitude. In its low areas, covered by grass, herds of Majorera goats and Canarian sheep graze in winter. Its beach, from which it takes its name, has black edges. The sea has an intense blue color.
A series of three natural pools in the town of La Frontera receive the name of La Maceta, perfectly equipped with stairs, walkways and places to rest. If the beach seems too stony, or the sea is rough that day, the whole family will spend an interesting day of bathing and sun here. In some picnic areas equipped with grills we can make our own food and, if not, we can reserve a table in some of the restaurants-chiringuitos in the area.
The abundant cliffs of the island present attractive viewpoints. The one in Jinama is one of the most interesting. It is located in the center-east area, and from its 1,230 meters above sea level it offers unique views of the vineyards and pineapple and banana plantations of the San Andrés region.
Nearby is the hermitage of the Virgen de la Caridad, from where an ideal path for hiking starts, which ends in the town of La Frontera.
A viewpoint that is also recommended is Tagoror. In addition to the impressive views over the arid southern coast of the island, here we can see the remains left by the first inhabitants of El Hierro, the Bimbaches, possibly descendants of the Guanches of Tenerife. It is believed that Tagoror, which in Berber means “circular stone enclosure”, served as a meeting place to celebrate assemblies and parties. Nearby is a place known as Los Letreros for the abundance of petroglyphs.