Nestled within the captivating expanse of El Hierro, the smallest but no less majestic of the Canary Islands, lies Frontera Rural Park. It encompasses an impressive 120 km2 in the island’s western reaches, inviting exploration with its diverse mosaic of terrains and quaint residential enclaves. Here, vacationers are treated to an enchanting journey through pristine natural wonders, each more enchanting than the last. So, gear up and prepare for a day out with nature. Experience first-hand the most diverse and magical natural wonders that are nothing short of awe-inspiring in El Hierro’s largest natural park.

Places of Interest

Everything an adventure-seeker asks for, Frontera Rural Park can provide. This protected park has dense forests, arid areas and a plethora of activities for its guests. In a day, visitors can see the majestic wind-twisted juniper trees, bath near a marine reserve and stroll down pathways that offer a peek into bygone times.

Frontera Forest El Hierro
Laurisilva Forest in Frontera Rural Park – ©charles03

Frontera Rural Park Network of Trails

Walk the traditional routes of El Hierro, the same paths taken by the early inhabitants to tend their flocks. Like the rest of the island, peace and tranquility reigns in the southwestern part making strolls to different paths a real pleasure.

One of the ideal starting points is the camping area in Hoya del Morcillo. From here, guests may take the route that leads to the fishing area of La Restinga. Others paths take hikers through the dense Laurel forest of Mencafete, eye-catching gulfs and so much more. The steep upward climbs are also well-compensated by the awe-inspiring scenery. Here, visitors have an incredible chance to be one with nature even if only for a brief moment of time.

El Sabinar

Situated in the west of El Hierro is El Sabinar, a magical open forest that looks straight-out of fairytale books. This forest has incredible centuries-old trees whose ability to adapt to the elements of nature and time often leaves visitors in awe. These gnarled trees look as if they bent to shield themselves from the trade winds.

Gnarled Trees Frontera Rural Park
The Gnarled Trees in the Park Are Like Warriors Bracing Themselves with Shields – ©underworld

One tree, in particular, known as the Sabina de El Hierro, is a magnificent example. This eye-catching tree’s unique and graceful shape has made it one of the symbols of the island. Furthermore, this type of forest only grows in three places around the world, making it a must-visit spot when in El Hierro.

El Julán Cultural Park and Visitor Center

On the southern part of the Frontera Rural Park sits El Julan Cultural Park and Visitor Center. Within the park is a mountain slope of lava flows where the Bimbache tribes hide their cave drawings. The significance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is showcased at a visitor center, where remarkable exhibitions explain the life of the island’s early inhabitants. In addition to that, the center also organizes tours that lead to the drawings and other interesting sites.

Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes Sanctuary

This 18th-century chapel features a white façade with a rust-colored roof, standing out against the greenery surrounding it. From here, visitors can admire stunning views down to the sea or explore further into the hills via several walking trails that start close by.

More importantly, the sanctuary houses the statue of Nuestra Señora de los Reyes (Our Lady of the Kings), El Hierro’s patron saint, which local shepherds bought from foreign sailors in the mid-16th century. The island celebrates the Virgin with the lively Bajada de la Virgen de Los Reyes procession every four years. Additionally, you can catch the annual Fiesta de los Pastores in late April, when the Virgin is taken from her chapel to the Cueva del Caracol, the figure’s original home.

Orchilla Lighthouse

Located in the municipality of El Pinar, this lighthouse once marked the Prime Meridian point for 250 years. Its beacon served as a guiding light for explorers returning from the New World, signaling their arrival back in Europe.

Orchilla Lighthouse Frontera El Hierro
Orchilla Lighthouse – ©canaryluc

At present, Orchilla Lighthouse features a distinctive design typical of Canarian lighthouses, with its muted white and green façade contrasted against a dark volcanic tower. It’s amidst erratic lava flows, volcanic tubes, and large tabaiba plants prevalent in this part of El Hierro. While the structure and surrounding landscape are captivating on their own, the scene becomes truly magical during the golden hour when the sun splashes bright colors onto the island’s western skies.

Mar de Las Calmas Marine Reserve

Along the southern coast of Frontera Rural Park lies La Restinga’s Mar de Las Calmas Marine Reserve. The underwater oasis spans 750 hectares and is the crown jewel of El Hierro’s marine biodiversity. Renowned for its rich aquatic life, this reserve has earned acclaim as a sanctuary for scuba divers and underwater photographers alike. It promises mesmerizing depths and a hidden world teeming with colorful marine species.

Campanario de Joapira

A charming landmark in the town of La Frontera, Campanario de Joapira is a beautiful bell tower with quintessential island architecture. It elegantly dominates the skyline from atop a small mountain, offering unparalleled views over Frontera and the expansive gulf beyond. To be rewarded with these breathtaking vistas, visitors must ascend stairs to reach the enchanting vantage point. This local symbol maintains the typical architecture of the Canary Islands, a testament to the region’s heritage.

Where to Eat In and Around the Rural Park

After the thrilling adventures in Frontera Rural Park, visitors often find themselves in need of a hearty meal to replenish their energy levels. Indulging in local or international cuisines serves as the perfect post-park visit reward.

Asador Artero

Popular for its excellent grilled offerings, Asador Artero delights patrons with a menu of crowd-pleasers showcasing the best local and traditional flavors. Highlights include savory croquettes, the iconic Canarian potatoes, tender and delicate Iberico, rich blood sausage, traditional gofio, spicy chistorra, and the uniquely prepared octopus escaldon. For dessert lovers, the Tres leches and chocolate cake come highly recommended.

Restaurante Garañones

Restaurante Garañones offers excellent value with its generously portioned, reasonably priced dishes, making it a favorite among visitors. Guests can enjoy fresh, well-prepared seafood with a wide variety to choose from, including their standout fish churros. The restaurant’s terrace provides stunning views, making it an ideal dining spot, especially during sunset.

Restaurante La Bodeguita de Fa

Restaurante La Bodeguita de Fa offers an authentic Italian dining experience with a welcoming atmosphere in an old house setting. With a decent wine selection to complement their offerings, guests can enjoy a variety of carpaccios, including oxtail, octopus, zucchini, and beef. Other favorites include stuffed squid, fried mushrooms with ham, delicate crepes, and hearty vegetable lasagna.

How to Reach La Frontera to Start Your Rural Park Exploration

The town of La Frontera serves as the best entry point or start point for exploring the magnificent landscapes of Frontera Rural Park. Whether you’re driving or taking public transportation, getting to La Frontera is straightforward.

By Car

La Frontera is easily accessible from various parts of El Hierro via main roads HI-1, HI-50, and HI-5. 

From Valverde: Take the HI-5 road directly towards La Frontera.

From El Pinar or La Restinga: Use the HI-4 road to connect with HI-40. Continue north to reach HI-1, which leads directly to La Frontera.

From Sabinosa: Drive east on HI-50 until you reach La Frontera.

To reach the town center, use the GPS coordinates 27.754435584133187, -18.00824870671719 for accurate navigation.

By Public Transportation

El Hierro’s public bus service (guaguas) offers convenient routes to La Frontera from various locations:

Bus Line 03: This is perfect for those coming from Valverde, the island’s capital, or connecting from other towns.

Bus Line 04: Circulates around Frontera, ideal for exploring the town and its immediate surroundings.

Bus Line 10: This connects El Hierro Airport to Valverde, from which you can transfer to Bus Line 03 to reach Frontera.

Bus Line 12: Connects Pozo de La Salud, Sabinosa, and Los Llanillos and ends in Frontera, which is great for visitors staying in these areas.

Starting your adventure in La Frontera positions you close to the rural park’s natural wonders and provides access to local amenities and insights into the island’s culture. Whether you’re keen on diving into the heart of Frontera Rural Park or simply exploring the charming town of La Frontera, these instructions will ensure a smooth journey.

Traveler Tips

Visiting as many sites as possible in Frontera Rural Park requires a bit of planning and strategy. Here are some tips to help you maximize your experience:

Early Start: Begin your day early to maximize the daylight hours, especially since some sites can be more enchanting in the morning light and less crowded.

Plan Your Route Wisely: Before you go, map out the sites you want to visit and plan a route that efficiently connects them. Try to group nearby attractions together to save time.

Prioritize Must-See Spots: Identify the top sites you don’t want to miss and plan your visit around them. Be flexible with the rest, depending on your time and energy levels.

Rent a Vehicle: Having your own vehicle gives you the flexibility to visit sites at your own pace and access areas that might be difficult to reach by public transport.

Stay Nearby: Consider accommodation close to or within Frontera Rural Park. This can save travel time, allowing you to explore more sites.

Take Shortcuts: If hiking trails connect directly between sites, use them as shortcuts instead of backtracking to main roads. Always ensure these are official and safe paths.

Limit Time at Each Site: While spending a lot of time at each location is tempting, setting a limit can help you see more. Decide in advance how long to spend at each site.

Pack Light and Right: Carry only what you need for the day to move quickly and easily. Essentials include water, snacks, a map, sun protection, and a fully charged phone.

Local Insight: Consider stopping by a local visitor center or chatting with locals for tips on avoiding crowds and discovering off-the-beaten-path spots that might not be widely advertised.

Wear Comfortable Shoes: The terrain can vary from easy walks to challenging hikes, so bring sturdy, comfortable footwear suitable for different types of trails.

Stay Hydrated: The weather can be unpredictable, and some areas might not have easy access to water. Always carry a refillable water bottle.

Pack Snacks and Lunch: There are limited places to buy food within the park, so packing a picnic or snacks is a good idea, especially if you plan to explore the whole day.

Check the Weather: The weather in El Hierro can change quickly. Check the forecast and be prepared with suitable clothing, including a rain jacket and layers.

Respect Nature: Stick to marked trails to protect the local flora and fauna. Take all your rubbish with you and follow any specific guidelines the park has in place.

Check Opening Times and Access: Some areas might have restricted access depending on the season or for conservation reasons. Check the latest information before you go.

Remember, while it’s great to see as much as possible, it’s also important to enjoy the experience and not rush through the beauty and uniqueness of Frontera Rural Park. Sometimes, less is more, and fully experiencing fewer sites may be more rewarding than a whirlwind tour of many.

FAQ

Are there guided tours available in Frontera Rural Park?

Yes, guided tours to Frontera Rural Park are available and offer a fantastic way to explore the area. These tours often highlight the most popular attractions, such as El Sabinar, along with other notable sites outside the rural park. For visitors specifically interested in focusing solely on Frontera Rural Park, it’s advisable to contact tour operators directly to inquire about the possibility of creating a personalized itinerary. This tailored approach ensures you can delve into the park’s unique landscapes and features according to your interests.

Are pets allowed in Frontera Rural Park?

Pets are generally allowed in Frontera Rural Park, but there are specific rules and regulations that every pet owner must follow to ensure the safety and well-being of both the wildlife in the park and the pets themselves. It’s important to keep pets on a leash at all times and to clean up after them. Additionally, certain areas within the park may have restrictions on pet access, especially those that are designated as protected habitats for native species. Always check the latest guidelines from the park authority or local information centers before your visit to ensure you’re up to date with the current pet policies.

Can I drive through Frontera Rural Park?

Yes, you can drive through Frontera Rural Park. The park has a network of roads that provide access to various parts of the area, allowing visitors to enjoy its stunning landscapes and viewpoints from the comfort of their vehicles. However, it’s essential to be mindful of driving regulations within the park, such as speed limits and parking restrictions, for the safety of both wildlife and pedestrians. Some areas may be accessible only by foot or require parking your vehicle and hiking/walking to reach them. Always check the condition of roads ahead of time, especially if you plan to visit more remote sections, as they can be narrow or uneven in places.

Is it suitable for families with children to visit Frontera Rural Park?

Yes, Frontera Rural Park is suitable for families with children and offers a wonderful opportunity for youngsters to explore nature and learn about the environment. The park has a variety of trails that vary in difficulty, including some that are easy and suitable for young children. There are also picnic areas where families can enjoy meals surrounded by nature.

However, it’s important for families to plan their visit according to their children’s abilities and interests. Some areas may require hiking or walking for a certain distance, so bringing strollers for very young children might not always be practical.

Engaging children with activities like bird watching, identifying plants, or simple nature scavenger hunts can make the visit educational and fun. Always supervise children closely, especially in areas with uneven terrain or near cliffs.

Visiting Frontera Rural Park can be a memorable experience for families, offering both adventure and relaxation in a beautiful natural setting.

Frontera Rural Park: Showcasing El Hierro’s Spectacles 

Frontera Rural Park is an essential destination for any visitor to El Hierro. It offers easy access from all corners of the island and showcases some of its most captivating natural wonders. From its diverse landscapes that seem to change with every passing moment to the human-made structures preserving its rich history, the park truly embodies a paradise for nature enthusiasts. The serene ambiance of its timeless spring days sets the stage for the breathtaking spectacle that unfolds here daily. With all these remarkable qualities and more, it’s no wonder that Frontera Rural Park continues to enchant an increasing number of tourists, showcasing the beauty and tranquility of the smallest Canary Island.