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El Balcón de Santa Ana

Playa de Santiago, La Gomera

To see some more of La Gomera? All aboard the Benchi Express!

Posted by Jonathan Broom on Apr 17, 2018
To see some more of La Gomera? All aboard the Benchi Express!

The second-smallest of the Canary Islands, La Gomera is almost as much of a pleasure to get to as it is to holiday in. Or on. Though the island has an airport, it’s little used; instead, most visitors to El Balcón de Santa Ana from the UK fly to Tenerife, then take the ferry to San Sebastian, the island’s capital, and are then transferred by air-conditioned coach to the beautiful holiday resort. Yes, it extends the journey time; but no elements are difficult, and the ‘getting-there’ merely adds to the sense of anticipation. (It’s less fun on the way back, of course; but you can always spend your return journey planning your next visit!)

Once at El Balcón, many holidaymakers are content to luxuriate in La Gomera’s glorious microclimate – from balmy to comfortably warm; to take in the spectacular views across the Atlantic and back towards Tenerife’s majestic Mount Teide volcano; to enjoy a drink and a snooze in the sunshine; and to let the cares of life fall away.

But if you want to explore the island, there are numerous options. Take a trip to Europe’s only natural rainforest, Garajonay, that caps La Gomera. Go whale-watching in the seas around the island.

Or jump in a taxi (very reasonably priced), or hop on a bus. Public transport around La Gomera is reliable, but slow; the views are stunning, but the roads are all hills and bends!

Or perhaps the smartest way to get around is to take to the water, aboard Fred. Olsen’s Benchi Express catamaran hydrofoil service.

The service was reintroduced in 2017, having been discontinued in 2012. Why the five-year suspension? No idea – but both Gomerans and holidaymakers are delighted to have it back. The former, because it provides a much-needed commuter link around the island (and indeed to and from Tenerife). The latter, because it’s a quick, easy and pleasurable way to get from Playa de Santiago to Valle Gran Rey and San Sebastian. Cheap, too – fares start at just €2. And you might even see a cetacean or two!

The town of Valle Gran Rey is on the beach, and is pretty enough – but really, that’s not its big selling point. What is, is the ‘Valley of the Great King’, a deep, green gorge running down to meet La Gomera’s longest beach. This is the island’s tourist epicentre. It’s worth noting, too, that while La Gomera gets little in the way of rain, on those rare occasions when the wet stuff does fall gently from the sky, the Valle Gran Rey can often still be found basking in sunshine: its own micromicroclimate!

Economically, bureaucratically and historically: San Sebastian is the capital of La Gomera in every way. The historic town centre is a pleasure to visit, with pedestrian-friendly streets, colourful, sun-bleached buildings and shaded plazas. San Sebastian’s main claim to fame is that Christopher Columbus stayed there on his way to the New World, and visitors will discover all they ever needed to know (and more) about his brief stopover in the town.

Sadly, given that Playa de Santiago lies between Valle Gran Rey and San Sebastian, the Benchi Express doesn’t operate a round-trip service; passengers can travel to one or the other, but not both. But hey, you’re there for a holiday – why not do one on one day, and the other the next?

Further details on the Benchi Express, including timetables, can be found by clicking here.

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Jonathan Broom
Author: Jonathan Broom

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