Spread between the vast Atlantic and the towering Tibataje Cliff is El Golfo. Tucked by its coast are natural pools braving the blows of harsh waves. In its expanse are modest yet charming villages of traditional Canarian abodes. For holidaymakers who want to slow down time and stray from the crowd, this valley in El Hierro is a splendid choice.

A Brief Look Back

El Golfo’s story on El Hierro, the littlest of the Canary Islands sitting at the edge of the Atlantic, is a wild mix of epic natural drama and human hustle. About 15,000 years back, a massive volcanic landslide occurred, leading to the collapse of the island’s northern part. This colossal geological shift created the impressive, crescent-shaped depression known today as El Golfo.

The Glorious Coast of El Golfo
The glorious mountain views and seascape of El Golfo – ©charles03

Fast forward to a few hundred years ago, recognizing the potential of this area, the island’s inhabitants began to harness its resources more systematically. They dug wells to access groundwater, transforming the landscape and allowing for more intensive farming practices. Some of these wells are still in use today, continuing to support the agricultural activities in the region.

El Golfo’s journey into becoming El Hierro’s breadbasket is a vital part of the island’s history and identity, blending the wild forces of nature with some serious human determination and creativity.

Places to Visit in El Golfo

El Golfo makes up a massive part of La Frontera, capturing the majority of the municipality’s attractions within its breadth. Holidaymakers who love being around immaculate natural scenery will especially appreciate its charms.

Iglesia de La Candelaria

The church bearing the name of the patron saint of La Frontera, Candelaria, is an essential stop when in the area. Perched on a hill in Joapira, the baroque beauty is a site surrounded by stunning sights. Appreciate its lovely yet modest architecture and pause to savor the encompassing mountains and sea views.

The Hilltop Iglesia de La Candelaria Towering Above Joapira
A charming hilltop church surrounded by astounding vistas – ©charles03

El Verodal Beach

It’s not every day that one gets to see a reddish-ochre beach. So, when sauntering around El Golfo, do drop-by the distinctively striking El Verodal. Like most of El Hierro’s coast, the magnetizing sandy haven epitomizes tranquility. That said, it’s essential to approach swimming with care, as the currents can be deceptively strong.

Natural Seawater Pools

Although often pounded by harsh waves, the rugged shoreline of El Golfo has relaxing natural seawater pools. These basins, located in different areas along the coastline, are bathing-friendly. What’s more, they offer picturesque views as they are somewhat like the dry land’s balcony to the expansive sea.

Bathe in the Atlantic from Piscina Natural La Maceta
Take a dip in the Atlantic without getting swept by its harsh waves from Piscina Natural La Maceta – ©acongar

Piscina Natural La Maceta

Piscina Natural La Maceta features two large pools and a smaller one, alongside a spacious concrete deck for soaking up the sun. Right next to the parking area, a mirador (viewpoint) is a mirador (viewpoint) offering stunning views, including the majestic Roques de Salmor. Additionally, there’s a barbecue area for some outdoor cooking and two highly recommended bar restaurants, Aguaviva La Maceta and Kiosco la Maceta, for visitors who prefer to dine out.

Charco Los Sargos

The vacant cafeteria above Charco Los Sargos may seem like an unwelcoming sight, but rest assured, it is in no way a reflection of the beauty that awaits past the downward lava-cobbled path. Exercise caution on your descent, as the path is rugged and the steps are irregular. Thankfully, the fencing along the way is both strong and reliable. Beyond this barrier, the charm of Charco Los Sargos is revealed with two natural, unaltered pools open to the sea and extending into fascinating lava caves.

Charco Azul

For those pressed for time, perhaps only spending a day in El Hierro, Charco Azul should still be on their must-visit list as it is the most spectacular of all natural pools in El Golfo. A narrow road and a path of over 100 steps, punctuated with a few scenic viewpoints along the way, lead to the natural beauty. Once there, they can happily float in its turquoise pools and enjoy the refreshing spritz of seawater from the crashing waves.

The Majestic Charco Azul
Let go of all the stress in Charco Azul – ©acongar

Tranquil Towns

El Golfo is home to several settlements. Frontera and Sabinosa are the largest, while Los Llanillos, Merese, Toscas, and Tigaday are smaller in size and population. Hikers often gravitate towards Sabinosa, drawn by its iconic groves of Junipers and the stoic beauty of the Sabina de El Hierro, a symbol of resilience and natural elegance. Los Llanillos and Las Puntas, on the other hand, are just the place for leisure walks and unwinding.

The Epitome of a Tranquil Town
Tranquil living at its finest – ©charles03

Pozo de la Salud

Pozo de la Salud, aptly named the Well of Health, is one of El Hierro’s top tourist spots. Its very existence tells so much of the ups and downs the island experienced throughout the centuries. Not only steeped in history, the panoramas here are also phenomenal. Standing on a rugged cliff with a majestic mountain as its backdrop, it shares sweeping views over the boundless expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

Getting to and Around El Golfo

Whether you’re starting from Valverde, the island’s capital, or other major towns, below’s how you can reach this picturesque location. Note that because EL Golfo is within the municipality of Frontera, going around is relatively fast and easy. Local taxis are a viable option for more direct and flexible travel within the municipality.

From Valverde to El Golfo

Valverde is often the starting point for trips to El Golfo since it’s conveniently located near both the airport and the main port, making it accessible for travelers arriving by air or sea.

Driving: Start on the HI-5 heading west out of Valverde. Continue on this road as it winds down the mountainside. As you approach the coast, the HI-550 will lead you directly into the heart of El Golfo.

Public Transportation: From Valverde, tourists must ride bus number 03 to La Frontera (as El Golfo is in this municipality). To go around the different towns and attractions within La Frontera and El Golfo, take bus lines 04 and 12. Checking the latest schedules and routes with the local bus company is advisable, as services can change. Alternatively, consider taxis or car rental for more direct access.

From La Restinga to El Golfo

Driving: To drive from La Restinga to El Golfo, begin by taking C. Arenas Blancas to HI-4 and turn left onto HI-4, continuing for about 20 minutes. From there, follow HI-4 and then merge onto HI-10, HI-5, and HI-550, heading towards C. Tejeguate in Frontera. While there are three possible routes to El Golfo from La Restinga, this path is favored for being the most direct and quickest option, making it a popular choice among travelers.

Public Transportation: Bus line 08 from La Restinga connects with El Pinar, from where you must transfer to reach Valverde via bus line 02. The ride bus line 03 from Valverde to EL Golfo. Check the latest schedules and consider combining bus travel with taxis to reach your destination within El Golfo.

Where to Stay

Because El Golfo has such magnificent natural surroundings, accommodations within the area need not try hard to impress holidaymakers. Glorious sights are at every turn, waiting outside every window and door. Still, they try their very best to have that X-factor or selling point that sets them apart.

Sanctuary for Artists

CasArte is a haven for artists and free thinkers, merging the comfort of accommodation with the stimulation of an art gallery. The inside is adorned with fascinating art pieces similar to a gallery. Outside, a splendid garden awaits where they can freely relax and see pure, untouched nature. Even regular vacationers get inspired to tap into their creative potential in such a setting. However,  note that there are months when it’s hard to reserve as the casa also offers residency programs. Book Now!

A Guinness Record Holder

The Smallest Hotel in the World Staring Straight at the Vast Atlantic
Create Big Memories in the tiniest hotel in the planet – ©acongar

With only four rooms, Punta Grande Hotel was once the smallest hotel in the world. Locals call it “the hotel on a rock,” and, true to its moniker, it does stand on top of a natural breakwater. Its unique location allows for experiences that other hotels simply can’t match. Guests can witness the spectacle of crashing sea waves from just 10 feet below their hotel window. On calmer days, they can even fish right from their rooms. Book Now!

A Haven for Health

At Hotel Balneario Pozo de la Salud, guests are treated to breathtaking panoramas from every vantage point. Right in front of the building is a majestic mountain that towers above everything else. Meanwhile, the back of the hotel opens up to the grandeur of the Atlantic Ocean, inviting guests to admire its expansive beauty. Beyond the views, the hotel ensures a rejuvenating experience with its array of spa services, including clinical, aesthetic, and relaxation treatments designed to soothe and revitalize. Book Now!

Where to Eat

Most of the restaurants in El Golfo whip up traditional Canarian cuisine, offering vacationers an authentic taste of local life and the broader archipelago with every bite. What’s more, some dishes delight the palate and enrich the dining experience with their subtle hint of Spanish and Mediterranean flavors.

La Bodeguita de Fa

La Bodeguita de Fa is where Italian meets Spanish cuisine, offering something tasty for everyone – whether you’re into meat, fish, or vegetarian dishes. The wine list is pretty decent, too. Some crowd favorites include oxtail carpaccio, aubergine with a twist of curry and honey, pork cheeks in a rich red wine reduction, and deliciously stuffed squid. It’s the perfect spot for those looking to indulge in a medley of exquisite tastes in a welcoming atmosphere.

Asador Artero

Asador Artero is a must-visit for meat enthusiasts exploring El Golfo. Known for their enormous steaks and a variety of delicious options like garlic prawns, fish lenguado, roasted suckling pig, and grilled cheese, it’s a carnivore’s paradise. Don’t miss out on their pudding and cheesecake for dessert. And if you’re vegan, no worries! They’ve got plant-based dishes on the menu, so everyone leaves happy.

Garanoñes

No need to rush your meal when you’re dining at Garanones! This spot lets you keep the sightseeing going even as you sit down to eat. Right in front of this cozy restaurant, you get an awesome view of El Golfo’s stunning coastal landscape and the vast Atlantic. Dive into their specialty seafood dishes without missing a beat of the scenery. Favorites here include chipirones, moray eel, and parrot fish, letting you savor the flavors of the sea with every bite.

Where the Land Meets the Sea

Admire El Golfo from Above the Cliff
El Golfo is stunning from any angle – ©robertschneider

Tibataje Cliff and El Golfo were once one, but thousands of years ago, erosion sculpted them into distinct landforms. El Golfo, shaped by coastal lava formations, now serves as a gateway for the island to meet the sea, offering natural pools for visitors to brave the Atlantic’s rugged beauty. Also within the depression are serene towns where both locals and tourists breathe easy. For those in search of a place where they can escape to be close to nature and recharge, El Golfo is just the place.