|1:30 000 (Kompass 231)|
|1:35 000 (OSE 377 Toeristische wegenkaart)|
|1:35 000 (La Gomera Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map) – recommended|
La Gomera is the second smallest island of the Canary Islands. It’s known for its pure natural environment and sparsely populated land which makes it the best island for me for hiking within the Canary Islands. Rich green laurel forest, deep red gorges (barranco in Spanish), great weather in the winter and an almost touchable feeling of old civilizations makes hiking on the island very deep experience.
You can get by with only English, but don’t expect locals to speak any language but Spanish. Therefore learning some basic Spanish phrases would be extremely useful.
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The most common way of getting into the island is taking a ferry from an island with an international airport like Tenerife or Gran Canaria. There are 2 major ferry companies: Fred Olsen & Naviera Armas. Their ferries go to La Gomera a few times a day. Fred Olsen is faster and a bit more expensive, Naviera Armas is slightly cheaper and needs more time for crossing. In this case taking more time is not a disadvantage though, the journey is still quite short and the views are beautiful. In the winter, when the wind is often quite strong, Naviera Armas’s boats are not good enough to fight big waves and only Fred Olsen operates. Therefore you should check the weather, otherwise you might end up like me – waiting 2 hours in front of the Naviera Armas’s ferry and in the end it was canceled so I had to take Fred Olsen’s one.
It’s also possible to take a plane from Tenerife but it’s really close, you can literally see La Gomera from Tenerife. So please, before you decide to take a plane, think about its environmental impact.
Public transport is cheap and quite good. You obviously can’t expect a bus every 20 minutes, but I think one can quite easily get around just with the buses. You just need to adjust to bus schedules for a bit and have a bit of patience while waiting at the bus stops, because you only know time of the bus departure from the first station.
There are plenty of accommodation options in main towns. Tourism is an essential economy part for islanders and they make sure that everyone who is keen to pay for a bed gets it. It’s much harder to find accommodation in small villages so plan ahead if possible.
If you fancy a hotel, booking.com offers heaps of options. If you’re keen for a more quiet place, Airbnb.com has a good selection too. If you wanna be in a quiet place, Hotel El Cebrito is an excellent option. I haven’t stayed there but I passed it when hiking around and just seeing the hotel was quite experience. It’s directly on the wild ocean coast, surrounded by palm trees, in the mouth of deep barranco.
Wild camping is officially forbidden on the island. Beaches which are close to towns and accessible by a car are regularly checked by the local police. There is only 1 official campsite – it’s called La Vista and it’s in El Cedro in the La Garajonay National Park. It costs 3 € a night (2018) and it has a restaurant and a small grocery shop. I recommend it to everyone who travels on a budget, wants to have a safe base and be close to the trails. I spent there quite a few days and it has everything a hiker needs. There aren’t any caravans or bungalows, only places for tents.
Eat & drink
There is a good selection of restaurants and groceries in every town along the coast. It’s a bit harder to find a place to resupply once you’re further inland. Especially water can be a big issue because the island is quite close to the equator and the sun could be very hot and rivers dry. Therefore when heading out for a hike, always make sure you have plenty of water or you know where to get it.
Where to go hiking
Pretty much anywhere. The island is quite small but the high number of hiking tracks will keep even a very keen hiker busy at least for a month. La Gomera’s nature is unbelievably diverse so you can experience very different landscapes every day.
Probably the most visited hiking area is the Garajonay National Park. There you can find plenty of day tracks. Among the most popular ones is Ruta 18 leading to Garajonay, the highest mountain of the island.
If you’re more adventurous, there are two long GR footpaths: GR 131, which crosses the island from the south-east to the north, and GR 132, which goes around the island. While GR 131 can be done in 3 days, GR 132 is much longer and the official guide divides it into 8 days. It can be done faster though and I found 6 days just enough for a fit and fully-loaded hiker.
I’ve never had a problem with navigation, the trails are well marked and there are plenty of information signs along the trails.
Guides & maps
There is plenty of walking guides, I personally recommend La Gomera: The Finest Coastal and Mountain Walks by Rother Walking Guide, Walking on La Gomera and El Hierro by Cicerone or Walk! La Gomera by Charles Davis. All of them are excellent.
If you are more into the online world, mapy.cz offers the most compact and accurate source of hiking trail maps I could find. You can get an app for your phone too. Another great source of hiking trails with GPX is accessible at Official website of tourism of La Gomera.
Good trekking shoes, hat and sunscreen are essential.
Considering cooking, I was really struggling to find a shop with gas canisters with screw tops. You can’t take gas bottles on a plane so you have to purchase them in the Canary Islands (unless you come by a boat, of course) and this could be quite an issue. I heard that the canisters with screw tops can be bought in Decathlon in La Laguna in Tenerife but I haven’t managed to check it out (EDIT 2021: You can buy them in Ferreteria in Santa Cruz, see the message from Paolo in the comments). Therefore, if you wanna cook, I recommend you to use a liquid gas stove. I use MSR one and it’s great.
- Wild camping is possible, just follow a common sense and keep your ethics extra high: avoid busy beaches, pitch a bivi just before the sunset and disappear with the sunrise, don’t leave any tracks and don’t overnight in the national park
- Asking locals where you can build your tent is also possible. In that case some Spanish is necessary
- I didn’t buy a guide, for me it was enough to use the mapy.cz phone app. Thanks to the strong sun I could recharge my phone with a pocket solar charger
- The La Vista campsite is really good place to socialize with other hikers, charge your stuff, use wi-fi (yes, they have free wi-fi!) or use a shower (that’s the funny one by the way because it’s an open outside shower in the middle of the campsite)
- Hitching is quite easy, there are not many people on the island and that’s always a good precondition for solidarity to be more common.
Hi Michael, great blog! I`m going to La Gomera later this year and i´m considering the GR 131, with modification so, that i`d end up in Valle Gran Rey instead of Vallehermoso. I was wondering about the first night tho in Decollada de Peraza as it does not show any accommodation. Did you do the GR 131 and if so, where did you stay the first night?
Thank you for the help in advance!
I was camping out the whole time at remote places, strictly adhering to ‘Pack in, pack out’ rule 🙂
Hi Michal! Wonderful site with loads of valuable info. Cool stuff indeed! Three quick ones:
1) For the GR132: better late Jan/early Feb or late Feb/early March weather-wise?
2) On the northern side: better to complete the GR132 loop or to opt for the G131, when it comes to landscape, views, etc?
2) In wither case: can one find accommodation along it without getting mad – eg can one avoid carrying camping gear without worrying too much about finding a bed to sleep?
Thanks sooooo much!
1) I think it doesn’t matter much. I really enjoyed off season and cold temperatures of January.
2) I like finishing one thing and keeping another thing “for the future” so I was happy to only walk GR132.
3) You should be able to find an accommodation, it’s just the matter of booking ahead and being organized. Try AirBnB and similar servies 🙂
Thanks for uploading all the useful info. I’m planning on doing the 131 on Gran Canaria, Tenerefe and Gomera. I was wondering if you had many bugs around because I was thinking about just taking my rainfly and using it as a shelter rather than the inner. This is fine but if there are many bugs around it can be a bad idea. Any tips?
Hi Ross, I actually don’t encounter any bugs. I think that taking only inner should be fine. It can get a bit windy though so pitch it in sheltered spots!
FYI you can find propane-butan cartridges in a Ferreteria in the Canary Islands (just bought one a couple of days ago in Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
Great to know Paolo, thanks for sharing!
Hi Michael, thanks for your article, it is very helpful. I’m going to La Gomera soon and was wondering about what I need to pack.
Do I need to bring a waterproof top for walking in the hills? Is it misty / damp? Or will I be OK with a fleece. I only have a 10kg bag so I need to bring essentials only.
Hi Kevin, when I was there, it was misty only once and it rained once too. However, it was windy all the time and my rain jacket came really handy as a good wind proof shell. I’m sure you’ll have a great time!
Hey Michal, your website is great, nicely written and very useful, thank you so much! I will spend 7-8 days on La Gomera next month, so I try to optimize my time there. What would you think about doing the GR132 from San Sebastian to Vallehermoso (southern part), and then taking the GR131 back to San Sebastian. Would it be a good compromise between coastal parts and the interior? Of course, I’ll have the camping equipment. Kind regards.
Hi Frank, I’m happy you found it helpful. Yes, that would be a great compromise actually! The southern part of GR132 was definitely more majestic and memorable than the northern one
Sold! Thank you for your answer. 🙂
Have you been at the very top of Garajonay. I’m planning to hike in La Gomera and I have a thing for “the highest point” of whatever I’m hiking 😛 Do you know how difficult it is? Is it worthy?
Hi LaZiaRo! Yes I have been to the very top. It’s an easy stroll and yes, it is worth it. There are beautiful views from up there all over the island and to the other islands too
Thanks for your tips, Michal! 🙂
Hiya! Im planning a short hiking holiday across La Gomera in a week or so. I’ll have 5 days on the island. What trails would you recommend? I’d like to do a bit of coastal walk but also the highest mountain, if possible. Do I need crampons for my shoes or any other accessory? What’s the level of difficulty of most trails?
Great to hear about your holidays. You definitely don’t need crampons. I climbed Garajonay, the highest mountain of La Gomera, in January. Apart from being foggy, I was wearing shorts, T-shirt and a fleece (see my article about climbing La Garajonay). The coast is very rocky and there aren’t long walking sections along the coast – the trails usually go along the beaches for ten minutes or so and then go up again.
Beautiful beach is Playa de la Guancha which is easily accessible from San Sebastián. Playa de Igula is a stunning beach, too. Another day hike with beautiful coast could be Ruta 33 in Agulo (see the map at https://en.mapy.cz/s/3iZ3P)
If you want bits of everything, I’d do a hike or two in Garajonay National Park and then visit a couple of beaches that I linked. My favourite place in La Gomera is Barranco de la Negra and that is definitely worth a visit, too. Have a good trip!
This is great and helpful info for me Michal; thank you. I also liked the summary info about you; it made me smile because I understand. I wish you good future travels.
Hi Michele, great to hear the article was helpful! I’ve just moved to Scotland so let’s see how it goes here. Life is fun!
THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE BUSES. I’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE WEATHER – I’VE READ THAT IT CAN BE VERY WET AND RATHER COLD IN THE MOUNTAINS IN THE WINTER. WHAT’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GO HIKING THERE, IN YOUR OPINION?
Hi Tina! My pleasure 🙂 Yes, it can be wet and cold up there but it also could be sunny and good. We slept at the La Vista campsite for a few nights in January. It was sunny almost all the time but the days were only very short. It was quite cold at night and the peaks were cloudy and wet sometimes. The coastline was dry and sunny. I would recommend to go there between October – December or March – May to get the most from it. January and February could be a bit rainy and summer unbearably hot. But as I said, I was there in January and it was still great – during the day we’d be wearing shorts and T-shirts but at night and in higher elevation we’d wear good warm clothes (good winter pants, merino tops, fleeses, good jackets, hats etc.). Also, there are almost no tourists during the winter months. I hope that helps 🙂
Thanks a lot for so structurized info and especially for map with gpx. I made GR131 on Tenerife few weeks before and want to visit La Gomera next year. How did you make your gpx track? With which app? Is it posssible with fly mode on the phone? Is it takes a lot of phone battery life?
Hi Yuri! I use mapy.cz: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cz.seznam.mapy&hl=en It’s for Apple too. It’s really good for the Canary Islands, it has most of the trails. It’S free, you can easily download maps for a specific country and use it when you’re offline. It works with GPS only so you can put your phone to Airplane mod. What I do is I follow the trail and check the map on my phone with GPS only a few times a day, mostly at crossroads or if I’m not 100% sure where if I’m on a trail. I turn off my phone during the night, I try to put brightness on as low as possible. With this strategy my battery lasts 4 days easily
I’m gonna save this for later!;)