This is the latest in our twice-a-month series on underrated destinations, It’s Still a Big World.
I had almost given up on writing about the Canary Islands. Year after year, pitch after pitch, the party line from editors was, the archipelago was intriguing but ultimately impractical for American travelers. And truth be told, I grudgingly agreed: When Americans need a dose of the tropics, the Caribbean has us covered—in less than half the flight time. For desert landscapes, we go out West. And when we daydream about the Spanish seaside, we’re usually thinking about Ibiza and the Mediterranean. The Canaries, with all of those natural wonders but no direct flights, were simply too tough a sell.
But I’m here to tell you that I was dead wrong. Little did I know, there’s a sleeper-hit Canary island that flies under most travelers’ radar, one worth flying all the way across the Atlantic to experience. In this secret Eden, you can wander pristine rainforests, sunbathe on powdery black sand, taste perfumy local wines, and sleep in a century-old lighthouse fringed by banana trees—all in a single day. Welcome to La Palma, the island Spaniards rightly call “La Isla Bonita.”