Valle Gran Rey
Our first stop on the island, Valle Gran Rey is probably considered the most touristy destination in La Gomera, but if you are imagining high rise hotels, loud bars and water parks then you couldn’t be more wrong. Nestled under the imposing hills of the interior, it can be reached by road from the main port in San Sebastian. Although as the crow flies it is not that far, due to the enormous hilly obstacles in the way, it takes approximately one to two hours fairly hair-raising driving to get there. It is worth the effort just to see the amazing scenery, especially the hairpin route down into the valley itself. If you don’t have a car, you can still take the trip as there are several buses a day. Alternatively, Valle Gran Rey has a small port, with direct sailings from Los Cristianos (Armas ferries), or the seasonal Benchi Express shuttle service from San Sebastian. (Fred Olsen ferries). Being the Atlantic Ocean, there is always the risk of rough seas, which nature duly obliged for us during our crossing, providing us with a rollercoaster, vomit inducing ride to the resort.
Arriving late at night, we were not prepared for the wonders we were to see when stepping outside onto the balcony the next day. The setting is truly spectacular, surrounded on one side by steep dramatic hillsides, and on the other by the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. Valle Gran Rey is made up of a number of small villages dotted along the coast and up the spectacular valley itself. All are within easy reach of each other by foot. Whilst being big enough to have all the amenities you need- supermarkets, restaurants, a few bars, doctors etc, it is still completely chilled out and peaceful. Due to difficulties in reaching the place, there is very little traffic noise either. Instead you are never far away from the sound of the hypnotic crash of the waves, or perhaps an aged hippy gently strumming a guitar on the beach. The place is so relaxing, it is the holiday equivalent of a candlelit radox bath, or listening to whale music.
The resort is largely frequented by 2 subsets of travellers- Germans and hippies. There are very few British here, hence no pubs or chippies, think more of German bakeries and hippy shops and you get the picture. As a vegetarian its great, you’re never far away from a vegan option. Experience tells me that Germans are the best at finding the most picturesque and tranquil spots to set up as their base camps, so in future when planning holidays, I’m simply going to ask “but where do the Germans go?”
As is quite common on a number of Canary Islands, the best of the weather is to be found in the west or the south. This is largely due to the normal direction of wind, from the north east, meaning any precipitation is dumped on the hills to the east. This is certainly true of Valle Gran Rey, where the sun normally shines. This is certainly true of our stay; other than a drop or two of rain on the night it rained, the rest of the time the weather was beautiful, with a refreshing breeze coming off the sea.
The beauty of the place doesn’t end when the sun goes down. In fact, the sun going down is one of the main events of the day. The sky over the Atlantic is filled with hues of orange and red, as the benches along the beach are packed as people watch the daily wonder, with perhaps a hippy juggling act eliciting light applause as the main event erupts in the background. And even after the sun has set, nature carries on putting on a show, as the night sky is filled with stars in all directions. Due to the lack of light pollution, the clarity is spectacular, and if you’re lucky you might see the odd shooting star, or passing satellite to grab your attention.
Given the beauty of the place, it would be quite possible to spend the whole day (and night) gazing in a dazed stupor at the wonderful surroundings, and indeed there is no reason why you shouldn’t. However, if you like a bit more activity on your holiday, as one of the best hiking centres in Europe, luckily La Gomera provides. The island is basically one giant rock in the ocean, but one filled with hills and valleys, teeming with indigenous forest like something out of Jurassic park. Due to its location at the bottom of a very steep valley, to explore the island properly from Valle Gran Rey, some form of transport would be helpful. Whilst there is a bus service, it is not that regular, and to get from A to B may require a change of bus and precision planning. Therefore if you want to see it all, a car, or and organised hiking tour may be the best option. As we had organised neither, the amount of walking we did was limited, so perhaps next time we visit we will hire a car.
Of course, being by the sea, swimming is another possible activity here. Whilst we were there, large parts of the coastline were being bashed by huge waves, so safe spots for swimming were limited. These were the beach at Vueltas harbour where the ferries come in, and at Charco Del Conde where at high tide a natural pool occurs, which is completely calm and is perfect for young children.
If I were to give on piece of advise about visiting Valle Gran Rey, I would say what are you waiting for. Pack your bags, jump on a plane, hop on a boat and come and see for yourself.
We stayed at the Apartamentos Baja de Secreto, located at the baby pool at Charco Del Conde. Due to the delayed arrival of our ferry, we arrived after last check-in at 11pm. After emailing from the ferry though, the reception kindly stayed open for our late arrival, giving us a bottle of water after our tortuous journey, which was very gratefully received as one of us was feeling very sea sick at this point. The apartment itself was lovely. It was spacious, clean and with a huge balcony overlooking the sea, town and hills. The kitchen was well equipped, the bed was comfy and there was plenty of hot water for the shower. There is a supermarket directly underneath the apartments, or a slightly cheaper EuroSpar just round the corner. Although we didn’t have a car, there looked to be ample parking space near the building. The wi-fi wasn’t great in the room, but to be fair, they make this clear in the literature. However, tae 4G signal in the resort is excellent, so if all you want to do is check your emails and update your social media from your phone, there really is no problem. I would highly recommend these apartments if you are planning a stay in Valle Gran Rey.
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