El Hierro is located on the southwestern margin of the Canary Islands. It is warm in winter and cool in summer on this comfortable island, thanks to a combination of correct winds and currents. It seems completely impregnable from the sailing yacht board: there are cliffs and precipices from all sides. But that’s an illusion: here you can find sheltered bays and wild beaches. You just need to know where to look for them.
El Hierro Volcanoes
The most volcanoes from the Canary archipelago grow on this tiny piece of land. More than five hundred craters rise above the ground here, another three hundred are hidden under it, waiting for their hour. But don’t be afraid: the last volcano erupted here 200 years ago.
There are underwater volcanoes on El Hierro. One of them had appeared next to the La Restinga harbour in 2011 and has since been slowly growing with occasional earthquakes. It is still under the water, but in the future it may become part of the island, increasing its area.
The prime meridian, the starting point of longitude, once had been basing on the island of El Hierro. It moved here in the year 150 A. D. from Rhodes by Ptolemy because this place was considered the end of the world. The neverending ocean was splashing behind the island, and the elephants with a turtle were not so far an island.
At those times the Canaries were called the Islands of Fortune, El Hierro was called Ferro, and so the longitude had got the “Ferro Meridian” name. It was so until the XIX century when the prime meridian moved to Greenwich.
Diving on El Hierro
If you ask where to go diving in the Canaries, locals will quickly answer: to El Hierro. Take a yacht at a boat rental and head to the south coast, the most vibrant place for diving with a variety of marine life. Underwater volcanoes are a unique feature of the local waters. And if you don’t have the equipment, take a look at La Restinga, the local diving centre.
El Hierro Ecology
There are no huge shopping centres or noisy discos on El Hierro. It is a quiet and cosy place which has its advantages. For example, one of the island’s goals is a complete transition to environment-friendly modes of transport. It is part of a global renewable energy transition program. In 2015, a hydro-wind power plant was built here, and now it produces half of the island’s energy.
El Sabinar Juniper Tree
There is a tree on El Hierro more famous than many local bays and valleys. It is El Sabinar from the forest of La Dehesa. The mighty winds have bent the tree in half, but it has survived and continues to grow in spite of troubles. A large tree looks like all the storms of the world have tried to break it.
The small town of Tamaduste is notable for its pools, which have appeared in frozen lava. The water fills them at high tide, and the town doesn’t differ too much from its fellows grown up in a secluded bay. But as the water level begins to drop, the bottom of the pool reveals itself. And the bay turns into a small lake which doesn’t have a connection to the ocean.
The Valverde Capital City
The entire name of this city spells like La Villa de Santa Maria de Valverde, and this is the only capital in the Canaries located not by the sea, but in the mountains. The height of Valverde is 571 m above sea level, and the frequent fogs here are low clouds.
Every four years the capital celebrates Bajada de la Virgen de Los Reyes, Saint Virgin Mary’s Descent. The holiday is rare but long: it lasts about a month. During this time, the statue of the Virgin Mary visit all the city streets and participates in the main events with music and dancing. After that, it returns to the sanctuary in La Dehesa and waits for another holiday.
7 facts about El Hierro
- The climatic zones of an island differ depending on which part you are. In the centre, you walk through the subtropics but find yourself in a tropical desert on the coast.
- The island has an airport, but you can fly only to Tenerife from here.
- You can watch rare beaked whales along the shores of El Hierro.
- In 2000, El Hierro was recognized as a biosphere reserve. Now 60% of its territory is protected by UNESCO.
- Scientists say that the island was formed due to the eruptions of three volcanoes. That’s why it resembles a triangle from high.
- There are 70 caves and volcanic cavities on an island. The most famous of them, Cueva de Don Justo, has a length of 6 km. Outside it looks like a small round hole carved in the rock.
- The El Hierro giant lizard is under threat of extinction. A special program has been organized on the island to save this rare species.
El Hierro Marinas
The island has only two marinas located on different sides of the island. La Estaca is a large one away from the city. And La Restinga is a small one, close to the town and diving centres.
Marina La Estaca
The port of La Estaca is located near Valverde in the northwest of the island. It is friendly to sailing yacht enthusiasts, although there are no interesting sights nearby.
It is necessary to contact the port via VHF channel 14 before entering to make sure there are no large vessels to leave the port. Sometimes they may not answer you, but they hear you and, if anything, will comment on the situation. Port security speaks English well and will help you to find a place for mooring. You can pay here only by credit card, no cash accepted.
The port bay is protected by a long pier, and the berths in its northern part are additionally protected by a breakwater. For the better mooring, pontoons are installed. In July and August, a strong wind blows from the hills and lowers the manoeuvrability of ships.
Marina has 80 berths. Vessels up to 100 ft with a width up to 21 ft can moor here. You can find here a hot shower and Wi-Fi, and there is a cafe, an ATM and a bus stop nearby. The nearest supermarket is located in Valverde, 6 miles from the port.
Marina La Restinga
La Restinga is a small village at the southern end of El Hierro. Its port is open for boats visiting, but note that the marina is very compact here. There is a growing underwater volcano not far from La Restinga, but scientists say it is not dangerous for yachts and catamarans passing nearby. The El Hierro marine reserve is situated not far from the marina, which attracts diving enthusiasts to the bay. For this reason, anchorages to the west of the port are prohibited.
The services office is located in the northwestern part of the port. Marina services usually help with mooring facilities. Please notice that they speak Spanish only. The port is well protected, even in the case of strong northern winds.
The marina is a small cosy port with pontoons. Boats usually moor at the port wall. However, there are only 6 berthing places on each pontoon, and boats with the length over 36 ft and width over 11 ft will experience difficulties when entering the port. The quay is quite high, but the stairs go down to the water. The marina has 24 hours security. There are restaurants and cafes on the shore, as well as several diving centres.