Despite its small size, there are many things to do in El Hierro, a beautiful place and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Canary Island, Spain.
This volcanic island isn’t for everyone. You won’t find resorts or luxury hotels here, but there are spectacular natural landscapes that will blow you away. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best Canary Islands to enjoy hiking, diving, and time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
If you’d like to visit this island, this guide is for you because I’ll tell you what to do in El Hierro and how to organize your trip!
1. Go diving in La Restinga, an exciting thing to do in El Hierro
Diving in La Restinga is one of the top things to do in El Hierro since its seabed is full of fantastical reefs, caves, and volcanic landscapes. This district is considered one of the best places in the world for diving, so you know it’ll be amazing!
There are several dive sites in La Restinga, as well as different tour companies offering diving excursions. In addition to the volcanic underwater landscape, you can also see a variety of tropical marine life native to the Mediterranean, such as turtles, stingrays, and barracudas. From time to time, you can even spot a whale shark.
If you want to dive in La Restinga but you lack diving experience, I recommend booking this 2-hour tour. If you’re looking for something cheaper for your first time, this 2-hour snorkeling trip is another good option.
Either way, La Restinga is a charming fishing village to visit in El Hierro, full of great restaurants and accommodations. During our trip, we stayed at this apartment, and it was great.
2. Punta Orchilla Lighthouse, a lovely place to visit in El Hierro
Visiting the Punta Orchilla Lighthouse is another awesome thing to do in El Hierro. The lighthouse is on the western side of the island and, since it’s on the coast of a volcanic island, there is very little light pollution, so it’s the perfect place for stargazing. If you want to see the starry skies of the Canary Islands, visit the lighthouse at night and check our guide on how to photograph the Milky Way.
The colonial-style lighthouse was inaugurated in 1933, and it’s become one of the most iconic landmarks in El Hierro. Plus, it’s located in a designated Marine Reserve, so the surrounding natural environment is incredible, especially at sunset. If you’re not sure what to do in El Hierro, I suggest visiting late in the day so you can watch the sun go down, then stay to enjoy the night sky. Curiously, this area was a Prime Meridian until 1885.
3. Charco Azul and other natural pools, something you can’t miss in El Hierro, Spain
One of the best things to do in El Hierro is taking a refreshing swim in one of its natural pools.
It’s hard to choose the best natural pool on this island, but one of the most popular ones is Charco Azul. Located in El Golfo Valley, the pool is surrounded by gorgeous volcanic rock formations, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful soak.
In addition to Charco Azul, there are other natural pools to see on the island, such as Charco de Los Sargos, which is actually a series of cliffside pools. I also recommend visiting La Maceta, where you can play in the ocean and enjoy stunning views.
While you’re sure to find other natural pools during your trip, some others that you can visit in El Hierro are Charco Manso, Pozo de las Calcosas, Tamaduste, and La Caleta.
4. La Llanía, one of the best hikes in El Hierro
The La Llanía route is one of the most popular hikes to do in El Hierro. The loop is about 4.5 miles and quite easy, so you can do it in a couple of hours. The trail is on the northwest part of the island in Valverde, and it passes through the forest of El Brezal. As you walk through this thick and humid forest, you’ll see lichens, laurels, Canary pines, and other plant species. Without a doubt, it’s a point of interest in El Hierro that you don’t want to miss!
Along the route, you’ll also pass by the Hoya de Fireba scenic viewpoint, from which you can see other islands like La Gomera and Tenerife. If the skies are clear, you may also see the Bailadero de las Brujas, a treeless area in Fuerteventura where, according to legend, the witches used to dance. Another cool spot is the La Llanía viewpoint overlooking the valley of El Golfo.
If you’re looking for things to do in El Hierro with kids, hiking the La Llanía route is one of the best activities. As I said, it’s a simple walk, but it’s also very scenic and quiet.
5. Las Playas Natural Monument, an interesting attraction in El Hierro
Las Playas Natural Monument is another point of interest in El Hierro that I recommend checking out. It’s in the southeastern part of the island and is part of the Canary Islands’ Natura 2000 Network.
These cliffs were formed after a series of landslides that destroyed part of the island. Today, the cliffs stand over 3,280 feet tall and stretch over 4 miles wide. In front of the cliffs stands the iconic Roque de Bonanza, two large volcanic rocks that protrude from the water.
Believe me when I say that this place is impressive, as well as a quiet area to rest and disconnect from the noise of the city, especially if you’re staying at the Parador de El Hierro (one of the best paradores of Spain). You can even climb to the Las Playas or Isora viewpoints atop the cliffs to experience the immensity of this natural monument.
6. Tamaduste, another unforgettable place to go in El Hierro, Canary Islands
The coastal town of Tamaduste is another point of interest in El Hierro. Thanks to its location at the foot of a volcanic cliff, it’s one of the most picturesque places on the island, right in front of the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the main tourist attractions in Tamaduste is its natural pool, with its crystal-clear waters. Besides, if you’re not sure what to do in El Hierro with kids, the bay is a nice, calm place that everyone will enjoy. From there, you can walk to the Tamaduste viewpoint, where you can enjoy lovely views of the town, particularly at sunrise or sunset when the colors are phenomenal.
While Tamaduste is a great place to visit in El Hierro, there aren’t any large resorts or shopping centers here. We enjoyed the tranquility while staying at this apartment, where we were close to small shops and traditional restaurants.
7. Tacorón and other popular beaches in El Hierro
Unlike other islands, El Hierro only has a few miles of beaches. Yet, there are still several beaches to visit in El Hierro, and one of the most popular is Tacorón. It’s in the southern region of the island, in the El Pinar municipality. Tacorón is ideal for families, with its calm, crystal-clear waters and striking red sand.
Besides Tacorón, Verodal is another point of interest in El Hierro. This beach also has red volcanic sand, which contrasts nicely with the blue water. Verodal is to the west, in the municipality of La Frontera and, while it’s beautiful, the strong currents make swimming a bit dangerous.
Some other beaches in El Hierro where you can swim, dive, and sunbathe are Arenas Blancas Beach, which is quiet and uncrowded; Puerto de la Estaca, which is perfect for watersports; La Restinga, where I recommend scuba diving; and Timijiraque, where you can surf.
8. la Peña and other viewpoints in El Hierro, Spain
Another cool thing to do in El Hierro is to visit some of its scenic viewpoints. The La Peña lookout point is in the north of the island, and it’s popular for its incredible panoramic views of the El Golfo valley. The viewpoint was built by architect César Manrique, who also built the restaurant there. I recommend visiting at sunset so you can see the fiery orange sky before ending your day at the stylish Hotel Puntagrande.
The Jinama viewpoint is another awesome place to see in El Hierro. Located 4,035 feet above sea level, it offers striking views of El Golfo and the island’s vineyards. Not only that, but the path leading to the overlook is gorgeous.
Some other interesting viewpoints to visit in El Hierro are Pico de Malpaso, which is beautiful but difficult to access; Lomo Negro, which overlooks the volcanic scenery of El Hierro; and the Las Playas viewpoint atop the Las Playas Natural Monument.
9. El Sabinar, one of the best places to go in El Hierro, Canary Islands
If you’re not sure what to do in El Hierro, keep an eye out for the signs to El Sabinar. This forest, also known as the Enchanted Forest of El Hierro, has a magical appearance, thanks to the ancient junipers growing there.
The forest has become one of the most magnificent places to visit in El Hierro, and it’s very close to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Kings, which I also recommend checking out. You won’t have any problems finding it since there are signposts everywhere. Along the path, you’ll pass by Phoenician junipers, heather, tabaiba, and cardone, or artichoke thistle. The junipers are especially intriguing because, due to sustained wind exposure, they have bent trunks that give them a peculiar shape. In fact, they’re one of the most photographed attractions in El Sabinar.
Moreover, along the route, you’ll find other El Hierro points of interest, such as the Bascos viewpoint and the Pozo de la Salud Spa.
10. Learn about the legend of the Garoé tree, a must-do in El Hierro
Finally, you can’t leave El Hierro without learning about the legend of the Garoé tree. The bimbaches, or the native inhabitants of El Hierro, revered this tree because they extracted fresh water from its leaves.
When the Spanish conquistadores arrived at the island, the bimbaches kept the tree’s location a secret, hoping that if the conquistadores couldn’t find drinkable water, they’d leave. However, a young bimbache fell in love with one of the soldiers and told him where to find the tree, leading her people to lose everything.
You can book this excursion to learn more about this legend and enjoy a lovely hike through Ventejís, the lush forest where the Garoé tree lives. It’s one of the most interesting things to do in El Hierro, for sure.
Best accommodations in El Hierro
Unlike other islands like Tenerife, El Hierro doesn’t have large luxury resorts. That said, the small hotels here are charming and friendly.
One of the best hotels in El Hierro is Hotel Puntagrande, which boasts rooms overlooking the volcanic rocks. Curiously, the hotel is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the smallest hotel in the world. As such, if you want to stay here, you better book in advance.
If that accommodation is full, you can stay at the Pozo de la Salud Spa, which has spacious rooms, a pool, and views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Parador de El Hierro is another good option nestled between the sea and the mountains.
If you’d rather stay in an apartment, the best options are the Villa Marina Apartments in La Caleta, the Varadero Apartments in La Restinga, and the Boomerang I Apartments in Tamaduste.
There are other options if you want to stay in El Hierro, but I recommend booking in advance since it’s a small island that can’t accommodate as many visitors as the larger Canary Islands.
El Hierro visitor information
To help you plan your trip to El Hierro, I’d also like to give you information on how to get there, how to get around the island, and where to eat.
I also have a map with all the points of interest in El Hierro, as well as accommodations and restaurants.
How to get to El Hierro
You can get to El Hierro by ferry or plane. If you decide to visit by ferry, be aware that the trip takes about 2-3 hours and departs from Tenerife, specifically Puerto Los Cristianos. You can check this website for departure schedules.
In case you’d like to go to El Hierro by plane, there are daily flights from Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Unfortunately, there aren’t any connecting flights to El Hierro from the peninsula, so you’ll have to get there from one of those two islands. We always compare prices using Kiwi and Skyscanner, two of the best websites to find cheap flights.
How to get around El Hierro
In El Hierro, you can find buses, taxis, and tours that include transportation, so it’s totally possible to get around without your own car. That said, having a vehicle will be the most comfortable option.
If you have a driver’s license, your best bet is to rent a car for your entire trip. Of course, keep in mind that the roads are narrow and sometimes there is low visibility on the island. You’ll want to always follow the posted speed limit and drive carefully. Also, remember that most of the gas stations are only in the more urban areas, so make sure you have enough gas to last you!
Where to eat in El Hierro
One of the most popular restaurants in El Hierro is El Refugio, a family restaurant that opened in 1988 in La Restinga. It specializes in fish and seafood dishes, and the restaurant even has its own fishing boat, so it’s considered one of the best restaurants in the Canary Islands.
La Tafeña is another restaurant in El Hierro that I recommend. It’s located in the capital, Valverde, and has a menu full of fresh dishes and local products.
I also recommend Casa Goyo, which is located north of El Hierro is the town of San Andrés. The prices are quite cheap, and the menu includes a wide variety of delicious dishes.
As you can see, you’ll have no problem finding a place to eat in El Hierro. Most of the restaurants here are family-owned and offer a cozy ambiance and local ingredients.
El Hierro map
To help you quickly and easily plan your itinerary and route, here is a map of El Hierro, where you’ll find the tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants I mentioned.
I hope you enjoy all the things to do in El Hierro, one of the most stunning Canary Islands! If you have any questions, leave me a comment below and I’ll try my best to help you out. Have a safe trip!