The Wonders of La Gomera
The Canary islands, an archipelago of Spanish islands in the Atlantic Ocean, are home to endless beaches, an amazing assortment of culture, and geographical features that make each island genuinely unique.
While it's impossible to pick a favorite, the mountainous island of La Gomera is particularly delightful. This second smallest of the Canary Islands is a hiker's paradise, featuring a fairytale-like cloud forest in the middle of the island, a ring of towering seaside cliffs, and towns and villages full of local culture and history. The entire island has been named a UNESCO biosphere reserve and is home to 4,182 species of animals (including 268 that you won't find anywhere else in the world).
La Gomera’s capital city of San Sebastián de la Gomera has wondrous architecture with vibrant Canarian-style houses and buildings clinging to the hillside. Torre del Conde, a 15th-century gothic tower, provides a glimpse into the island's history, complete with spectacular views of the port and the mountains in the background. A stroll around the historic quarter of San Sebastián will introduce you to its old churches and museums full of artifacts and information about an island that was once considered to be the end of the world (before explorers sailed beyond it for the New World). Find a local restaurant and order a glass of wine from the island, the varieties from La Gomera have a very distinct taste thanks in part to the volcanic soil and mature grapevines.
The island is also home to Garajonay National Park. The park is named for the Garajonay rock, which itself is named after Gara and Jonay, two doomed lovers with a story similar to Romeo and Juliet. At the edge of the park, and about a half-hour drive from San Sebastián, stands Roque de Agando. This magnificent rock is a volcanic plug coming out of the ground, in stark contrast to the lush green forests below. It’s a perfect spot to get a shot for the ‘gram.
While exploring the mountains and gorges of this island, be sure to listen for a whistle- the local Silbo Gomera language uses distinct whistles to replace vowels and consonants in the Castilian Spanish language. The pitch and duration of the whistles are used to distinguish between what's being said. The unique language has the distinction of being the only whistled language in the world that's fully developed and practiced by a large community and has a place on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The children of the island are required to study the language in school to ensure that it does not become lost.
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