Roque La Bonanza

Roque la Bonanza, Las Playas, El Hierro

This unusual rock is called Roque La Bonanza. It’s on the road from the port to the Parador (Paradors are posh, state-run hotels, and very nice too). We promptly christened it the teddy-bear rock, because to us it looks like a teddy bear pushing something along.

The rock is just on the Parador side of the long tunnel.

El Hierro Goes Green

One of the big windmills, Valverde

One of the big windmills

El Hierro is now the first island in the world to be self-sufficient in electricity from renewable sources. There are be six modern windmills on the ridge where the wind generally tries to blow your hair off, and most of the time, they’ll provide the electricity direct to the island’s power grid.

It’s not too hard to see the catch. “Generally” isn’t enough. Nobody wants to wait for a windy day to switch the kettle on. They want their cup of tea now.

So when the windmills generate more electricity than the demand, the excess will be used to pump water uphill to a reservoir in a natural volcanic crater. Then when the windmills can’t keep up with the demand, the water will be released to run downhill through turbines into another lake near the port of Estaca to generate the extra energy. This should smooth out the bumps nicely.

Up until now, most of the island’s electricity came from a diesel-fired power station. That will be on standby for the first year, while they make sure that everything really does work reliably, and then moth-balled. After that, the whole island will run on clean energy.

Of course it helps that the population is only about 10,500, and the winters are fairly mild. But ti’s still impressive.

More details (in English) at

The top reservoir under construction above Valverde

The top reservoir under construction above Valverde


Pineapples growing at La Maceta, El Hierro

They certainly aren’t a crop I associated with the Canary Islands, but El Hierro exports pineapples.

Most of the fields are in El Golfo, at low altitudes. This is the warmest and sunniest part of the island, but originally the ground was very stony. Most of the soil was brought in from the woods on the central ridge, and irrigation added.

The spectacular cliff in the background is the Tibataje nature reserve.

Homage to the Bajada

The 'Homage to the Bajada' statue, Valverde, El Hierro, Canary Islands.The “Homage to the Bajada” statue.

I love this statue.

It stands about a kilometre outside Valverde, on the road down to the port and airport, which means most people are going to see it fairly soon after they arrive on the island. As the name suggests, it celebrates the Bajada, the big once-every-five-years fiesta where they take the statue of the island’s patron saint to the capital for a month.

The back of the 'Homage to the Bajada' statue, Valverde, El Hierro, Canary Islands.The back of the statue

I wrote a post about this while it was being built, and I was fascinated to see the finished statue. It meant so much more, now that I’ve seen the bajada dancers.

The biggest archway in the Canaries, 'Homage to the Bajada' statue, Valverde, El Hierro, Canary Islands..The biggest archway in the Canaries.

The artist, Rubén Armiche, clearly has a good idea of what appeals to kids aged from 4 to 94. This archway is only one of the ways into the statue. He calls it the biggest archway in the Canary Islands, because on a clear day it frames Mt. Teide. (Shame about the haze when I took the photo.)

Holes for peeking through in the 'Homage to the Bajada' statue, Valverde, El Hierro, Canary Islands.Holes for peeking through.

There are actually two archways, side by side; one is adult size and the other kid-sized. Better yet, there are peek-holes between the two.

The scaffolding for the huge statue is made from things like old washing machines, which saves them going into landfill. And as you can see, some of the details on the outside are recycled too.

Detail of the 'Homage to the Bajada' statue, Valverde, El Hierro, Canary Islands.Detail of the statue. Yes, they’re bottle tops!

5.1 magnitude earthquake

Did the earth move for you?

Seismograph trace

Today’s seismograph from Valverde

We had an earthquake at 5:45 pm. The whole family felt it, which is unusual. (Normally I say, “What was that?” and the rest of the family reply, “What was what?” and nobody believes me until the evening news mentions it.) But this time was different. Most people on La Palma seem to have felt it, and my husband thinks it was bigger than any of the ones he remembers from the eruption of Teneguía.

Avcan, (Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias /Canarian Volcanic News) say it was magnitude 5.3 in El Hierro, the epicentre was west of the island, and it was just 12 km deep.

Clearly the magma under El Hierro is moving again. The centre of the island has risen 6 cm over the course of the year, and there are lots of little tremors – ten today. But this one was in a different league. My friend in La Frontera said she could see dust clouds from several small landslides.

Fortunately there are no reports of casualties.


“A Breathtaking Window on the Universe” on sale in El Hierro!

'A Breathtaking Window on the Universe' on sale in Santa Cruz de la Palma

The book on sale in Santa Cruz de la Palma

My guide book to the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos, “A Breathtaking Window on the Universe,” is now on sale at:
Libraria “Marga” Papelería
Licenciado Bueno No. 6

There is a list of places on La Palma where you can buy the book here.

Or you can buy it direct from the publisher’s website for 12€ + P&P.

The cover for 'A Breathtaking Window on the Universe'

Click on the image to enlarge

Sea-side Walk, La Frontera

The new seaside path from La Maceta to Punta Grande, La Frontera, El Hierro

The start of new seaside path at La Maceta

The town hall in Frontera has built a new seaside walk from La Maceta (in the west) to Punta Grande (in the east). I loved it.

It’s 2.8 km long, and by Herreñan standards (not by Dutch standards), it’s flat. Most of it is made of planks, and the rest is flasttish stones. You could get a push chair or wheel chair along everything but the last 200 m at the eastern end, which has steps. Even then, some short sections are steep enough that it would be hard work.

The new seaside path from La Maceta to Punta Grande, La Frontera, El Hierro

The new seaside path at La Maceta

Luckily, lots of the viewpoints along the way have shade and chairs, so you can sit and catch your breath, chat, or just watch the sea for a while. If you take along a laptop, you can even write blog posts.

Even if you don’t stop at at viewpoints, the scenery is dramatic and the view constantly changes a you go along, and I suspect it changes from one day to another, as sea and sky usually does.

The view from the new seaside path from La Maceta to Punta Grande, La Frontera, El Hierro

The view from the new seaside path at La Maceta

Near one of viewpoints, you can still see the old public laundry, where women used to bring the family clothes to wash, and a well beside it. I don’t know whether or not the well held fresh water, but I doubt it. I’d have thought the salt water would seep in, but you could still use it to wash clothes. (And maybe by the end of summer, fresh water would be far too precious to use for that.)

This part of the island is warm enough to grow pineapples. I suspect it would be a great place to come on a cold day in January. If you do the walk in the hottest part of the day, as I did, you’re going to be ready for a cold drink when you finish. Luckily, there’s a bar at each end. Or maybe it’s not luck. Perhaps somebody at the town hall is very sensible.

The old laundry on the new seaside path from La Maceta to Punta Grande, La Frontera, El Hierro

The old laundry on the new seaside path from La Maceta

La Bajada Festival, El Hierro 2013

Guest post by Fátima Quintero Álvarez y Leticia Padrón

La Bajada de La Virgin is a very important festival in El Hierro. La Bajada is celebrated every four years.
The statue of the virgin goes through different stops along the way, these stops are called: Tejegüete, Cepón, La Mareta, Binto, Cruz del Niño, Cuatro esquinas, Piedra del Regidor, Llanía and Cruz del Humilladero.

Traditional flute from El Hierro

Traditional flute from El Hierro

Traditional castanets and dancer from El Hierro

Traditional castanets and dancer from El Hierro

Traditional drums from El Hierro

Traditional drums from El Hierro

The musicians’ play three typical instruments,the pito, chacaras and drum.






Dancer's hat from the north

Dancer’s hat from the north

Dancer's hat from Isora

Dancer’s hat from Isora









All the dancers wear the same clothes but different hats, depending on the village they are from.

Dancer's hat from El Pinar

Dancer’s hat from El Pinar

Dancer's hat from Sabinosa

Dancer’s hat from Sabinosa

Dancer's hat from San Andres

Dancer’s hat from San Andres

Dancer's hat from La Frontera

Dancer’s hat from La Frontera

Dancer's hat from Valverde

Dancer’s hat from Valverde

Hoyo de Barrio

Most of El Hierro gets pretty dry in summer, but the picnic and barbecue area at Hoyo del Barrio (near Valverde) always seems to stay green.

As you can see, there are tables and chairs. And you can just spot the barbecue grill in the middle of the wall at the the back.

And if you want a walk after your lunch, there’s a very pretty path that wends up through the woods.

Just above the picnic area at Hoyo de Barrio, El Hierro

A message from El Hierro

More information at