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El Hierro. The Zero Meridian Island

Since the year 2000, El Hierro is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and boasts one of the worlds most ambitious sustainability programs. Land speculation, inappropriate infrastructure and developments that do not respect El Hierros cultural and natural heritage are significantly limited. The island government has made a firm commitment, to not walk the path of irretrievable damage, which a lot of places on our neighboring islands have chosen with regards to tourism. Few places on the Fortunate Islandshave developed such a keen awareness for the delicate balance, with which tourism, conservation of nature and culture have to be handled.

Imagine a place where even for a short moment, all stress vanishes and time stands still. A place where strangers greet you as if they were old friends. A place where you can sit for hours on cliffs overlooking the ocean, letting your thoughts and fantasies run wild. A place of unexpected silence.

El Hierro, with a maximum elevation of 1504m, covering 278 square kilometers is the smallest and most remote of the seven main islands in the Canary Archipelago. With it’s strategy aiming to harmonize development with respect for the environment, culture and human dignity, El Hierro is on the best way to be the worldwide first island with its energy being supplied 100% by sustainable renewable sources. In this regard, El Hierro aims to develop a positive reference for 600 million people worldwide living on islands.

This treasure in midst of the Atlantic is made up of unique landscapes of incredible diversity. Framed by lava bays instead of sandy beaches, on it’s highlands pines and laurels grow alongside juniper trees formed by centuries of trade winds. Its’ people kind and friendly, seem to know the secret of what brings people to this island, which used to be considered the end of the world. Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself…

For years now, El Hierro has been a sanctuary for artists, thinkers, scientists and open minded individuals to question and expand personal boundaries in this remote Atlantic surrounding – reconnecting minds and hearts.

Nowadays more than half of the island consists of Natural Parks and specially protected areas. Crossing the island, you will be fascinated by the wide variety of vegetation, extensive stretches of lava, with one of the biggest pine forests of the Canaries towering the island.

The highest peak – the Malpaso (1504 m) steeply drops towards the „Valle del Golfo“ extending at its’ feet. Formed by a series of volcanic eruptions 2 – 3 million years ago, El Hierro is geographically the youngest of the Canary Islands.

Thanks to the prevalent winds, the island enjoys a gentle climate with temperatures barely falling under 17ºC in winter, and scarcely exceeding 24ºC in summer. Thats why the Canary Islands are also known as the Islands of eternal spring. The probability of rain is greatest between november and march.

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Hiking
The majority of the most beautiful landscapes are approachable by foot only, but this is a journey of intense aromas, incredible views and age old iconic Sabina Trees bowing to the Atlantic. Above El Sitio, the ancient trail to the „Mirador de Jinama“ is winding up to a beautiful vantage point of the Golfo valley at 1230 m (Hiking duration approx. 3 hours, appropriate footwear recommended).

Diving & Swimming
If you wish to explore El Hierro from underwater, La Restinga a fishing village located on the southern end of the island is the ideal place. It is home to most of the fishing boats and a variety of diving schools. The waters of La Restinga are perfect for deep sea diving in the „Mar de Las Calmas Marine Reserve“. Protected from the prevailing north-easterly winds, the „Mar de Las Calmas“ extends south-east of the island. Divers from all over the world are fascinated by the most breathtaking underwater sceneries, an incredibly diverse underwater ecosystem, that will captivate you with crystal-clear waters in avolcanic setting.

Round the island you have plenty of possibilities to swim in the open ocean – Tacorón, in summer Punta Grande, La Caleta or Tamaduste to name some. On top of that, you will findcaptivating natural pools which seem to be made by humans. This year in September, the Herreños will celebrate for the 4th consecutive year a very special and adventurous event – the „Travesía Mar de las Calmas“. Starting from La RestingaIn 4 distances (2.5 km, 6.5 km, 12 km, 18 km), hundreds of people from all over the world swim through the Mar de las Calmas, the toughest arriving at the „Faro de Orchilla“ after 18km – the old Zero Meridian where once people believed the world ended.

 Travesía Mar de las Calmas

Public transport on El Hierro is organized in cooperatives, offering public bus lines circulating between the main communities on the island. For routes and timetables please visit

Bus

In La Frontera there is the taxi cooperative which you can also book excursions with. If you want to move around on the island a bit more independent however, we recommend to rent a car.

Among the main points of interest, we specially want to point out the following:

  • The „Ermita de la Virgen de los Reyes“. A place for pilgrimage where El Hierro’s patron saint resides, up on the plateau of La Dehesa where Juniper trees grow with the trade winds.
  • The carefully restored museum of Guinea, located on the main road from Las Puntas to La Frontera, introduces the visitor to the life of Herreños on the island 100 years ago.
  • Next to the „Guinea museum“ you will find a breeding station where the once endemic lagarto gigante (giant lizard) is bred and released once again. The animals can grow up to 80cm in length, and before building the station in 1996, this giant lizard was seriously threatened with extinction.
  • Punta Grande is a small land tip stretching into the ocean where in previous times the postal ship docked. Every evening you can sit here, enjoying the most beautiful sunsets having a panoramic view of the Golfo valley.