The School Holiday Shackles
Since Dylan would be starting school from September the realisation that we would now be tied to the school holiday calendar really irked us. it’s not a secret that as soon as you start searching for holidays in the holidays prices shoot up. Back in June I tried to be ahead of the game and make savings where possible and started searching for the October half term. I had found a cheap flight out to Majorca the week of half term and researched hotels but the Sunday return dates hadn’t been released yet. I woke at 6am on a Thursday morning hoping to book my flights. I was wrong, in anticipation of the half term bookers EasyJet had released flights at a ridiculously high price. All that time and research for nothing 😦 I tried to find other flights but everything was coming up expensive. I was just about to get ready for work when I thought I should have a quick look for the December holidays. A quick search later and I had found flights to La Palma for £40 return. It was the canaries so it would be warm. I suggested it to Dee who got looking for a hotel. My only request was that it had a heated pool. We found the H10 Turbutiene and before we had left for work our flights were booked!
This holiday had felt a long time coming, we had a long hot summer luckily so we didn’t miss a holiday so much but as the weather began to turn and the days grew darker I could feel my feet itching for sand beneath them. Christmas is always a busy time and with going on holiday just before I felt the added pressure. I was stressed! I was trying to get everything done at work before I left, sorting/wrapping and handing out the presents for children before we left as I knew we wouldn’t have time after we got back and making sure the house was Christmas ready for our return. I felt like I had crammed 3 weeks’ worth of preparation into 1! Had I made a mistake in choosing to go on holiday at one of the busiest times of the year?
We caught our early morning flight out of cold London and arrived in La Palma 4 hours later. The difference in weather was surprising. I was expecting between 18-20 and with the days being cold at home, I couldn’t even imagine what 18 degrees would feel like and if it would be warm enough. We arrived to a sunny morning with bright skies with temperatures already over 20 degrees. We took a taxi for the short 10minute journey to our hotel. H10 is situated in Los Cancajos which is north east of the island. I was surprised by how green the island was, I was expecting a landscape similar to Lanzarote which I though was quite dry and barren and very volcanic.
The Local Area
After a quick check in we arrived at our room. It was a good size with a double and a single fitting comftably. We had views of the hills, which although nice we fancied a sea view. We called reception and asked if we could upgrade. He arranged it for us to move from the next day. We were starving so decided to take a stroll along the coastal path and see what we could find. About a 5/6 minute walk away from the hotel we came across Trattoria Roma- a lovely restaurant set just by the side of the sea. With views of the sea and a tantalising aroma coming from there we wandered inside. I really liked the simplicity of the restaurant; the main area was a narrow layout which gave nearly all tables views of the sea. The main bulk of the place was taken up by the kitchen just below which was surrounded by windows which let you see the chef freshly preparing your pizza’s and dishes. The pizzas were delicious, and the cold beers just topped our meals off. We slowly walked back to the hotel along the main roads to get an idea of the area. Los Cancajos is pretty quiet and on this side (left of the hotel) there’s a few restaurants and a pharmacy and a spar nearby.
We stopped by the hotel to change into lighter clothes and headed for a walk in the opposite direction to the beach. Its only a few minutes away and we thought we would have a quick stroll and maybe build a small sandcastle. Dylan had other plans! He was so excited buy the rock pools and the sea that slowly he inched his way further into the water. We had not even changed him into his swim clothes as the sea water was cold but before we knew it the boy was sitting at the edge of the water letting the waves lap him. His clothes were soaked head to toe and covered in black sand but he was happy. We built a small castle and went back. It had already been a long day with the travelling.
We had chosen half board at the H10 so we could still see the island during the day, but knew that we could have an early dinner if needed. The hotels main restaurant is large and set out well with 2 main buffet areas at either side and a large live station in the middle along with salad/bread tables.
We always chose the same tables for our breakfast and dinner and the waiters were all very friendly with Dylan. The breakfast variety is immesnse! From fresh pancakes and eggs to to a full fry up and continental available. To make breakfast extra special they also serve up fresh fruit smoothies and fizz! I think most of the extra pounds we gained over this holiday was due to the breakfast! Dinner was equally good with lots of choices. The live counter served a great choices of meats and fish daily. The wine was all well prcied and we especially enjoyed the canaries option. We got to have some Malvasia from the Rubicon area which reminded us of our trip to Lanzarote! The staff will label your bottle and put it away for your next meal if you ask 😊
Dylan’s new buddy
The next day, after breakfast, we headed straight for the onsite park for Dylan to burn off some energy in the glorious sun. The hotel only had a few children there and those that were staying here were all playing in the playground. Dylan made friends quickly with the others, he instantly took a liking to Archie who was his age and from the UK too. It was sweet watching the kids play together even with the language barriers the 5 odd children all played happily together. From then on Dylan and Archie were inseparable you could hear them both shouting out to each other through out the days and I think everyone staying at the hotel knew the names of these two by the end! The boys would play together most of the time and us parents wold chat and laugh together. It was nice having 4 parents watch over the kids as it meant it was easier to relax. I would take the boys to the park whilst the other 3 relaxed or vice versa. The hotel has 4 pools, the kids paddling pool was really cold but the outdoor heated pool was a great temperature, my only issue with it was that it started at 1.65 metres deep! I’m not a strong swimmers so I was not comfortable taking both the boys in. Archie is a great swimmer and Dylan had his float vest so Natalie would supervise and I would swim or just dip my legs in.
Whale and Dolphin watching trip
From my brief research on La Palma I was really looking forward to spotting some dolphins, I had read on trip advisor that people had even seen them from the hotel balconies and I spent time hoping to catch a glimpse from our new sea view room ( I highly recommend it if you like the sea, although it is more windier on this side of the hotel). In the hotel lobby they have large boards advertising a Whale watching tour with Ocean Explorer. I had read about them and Fancy 2 but was keen to speak to rep that came every morning. Ocean Explorer are the only company which guarantee a whale or dolphin sighting, if you don’t see them then they will give you another free trip. So with this in mind and knowing transfers were also included we booked. The whale watching trips are done from the west coast of the island which faces the wide Atlantic ocean. With less disruption on the water it is more likely to see the magnificent beasts of the sea.Tazacorte is an hours drive away across the volcanic landscape and even through the mountain at one point. The views are beautiful. We had chosen the shorter 4 hour trip on the flipper boat. I was excited and optimistic. Dylan was excited too but also hungry. He wouldn’t have little bits of food like I had wanted but instead chose to scoff down a whole banana, crisps, juice carton and yogurt instead, This did not bode well for a trip on the sea! The water was relatively calm but had large swells. Dylan started feeling uneasy pretty soon into the trip. soon he was puking over board and not enjoying the experience much. It had been an hour into the trip and we had not spotted anything. The blue waves were playing tricks on my eyes and I was wondering if I was seeing a fin or tail breaking the water but it was nothing. I was beginning to feel disheartened. Suddenly the captain stopped the engine of the boat and the guide pointed everyone to the distance on the right side. I was holding Dylan so couldn’t see but he pointed out a spec of a whale fin in the far distance. It re appeared again for a split second and then was gone. Dee soon began feeling queasy too and Dylan fell asleep on my lap. I had heard that we needed to look out for birds, as where birds were meant fish were, which meant that’s where dolphins would be but looking up at the clear blue skies there was not a single bird in the sky. I wanted to see the caves and go back but as the tide was high we could not venture into the caves. I was ready to head for land now. I felt pretty disappointed in the end, I know it’s a nature tour but from the guides and posts I was hoping to have seen more activity. A barely there sighting covered the guarantee and tbh with Dee and Dyl both not taking to the sea I wouldn’t have gone back either way. We had nearly an hour before our transfer back to walked along the coast to Playa Mont- a beautiful restaurant for a bite to eat. The calamari was fresh and we had some canarian potatoes to go with it.
Santa Cruz the main town is only a short bus ride away. It costs only a few euro for the bus which is from outside of the hotel. After breakfast we went for a wonder. The bus drops you at the start of the main street. You begin with the famous picture of Nitrato De Chile, a mosaic. Calle O’Daly has a mixture of big name shops and little boutiques that line it.You would almost forget it was Christmas in the warm sun until we would see the Christmas displays in shop windows or the decoration done near the main church. Lights had also been strung along the main promenade and church and I’m sure it looked wonderful in the evenings. We had a wonder through and stopped for a bite to eat. We went to the local park and watched Dylan play in the sun. The weather really was just perfect for December.
Natalie had found out about a local zoo which we thought would be nice for the boys to vist. We knew it was only a short drive away but not much else. Our cab arrived early in the morning so we could reach the zoo for opening. The 2 families set off on a day of fun! Dylan and Archie were so excited to be going together they were squealing with delight! The cab dropped us on a quiet narrow street in the middle of nowhere, this couldn’t be right- could it? we saw a small sign for the zoo and wondered where this zoo would be as we had followed a winding path up a hill. There couldn’t be much land here for a zoo! We went through an unambiguous door and into a semi dark corridor, we were immediately greeted by a huge owl just sitting on a stump, We weren’t even sure if it was real until it moved his head and we all took a step back. I’m not exaggerating when I say this owl could carry off a baby- it was massive! The zoo keeper came to greet us and said we could pet the 2 owls that were there, the boys were happy to! We paid the entrance and bought some bird and animal food. Most animals can be fed we jus had to read the signs. We walked through to find some parakeets in a cage. Then noticed the view. It was stunning we were on the side of the hill with views of the sea and lush greenery. You can follow the paths which wind down the side of the hill feeding the animals as you go. They have a few enclosures where you go in with free flying birds and parrots. This is where Dylan stopped enjoying the experience. The birds would follow you for food and it scared Dylan when the Emu’s were getting too close or even the chickens! We had to remind him that he had a parrot at home and that he was good with animals, but he just cried and wanted to go home. He was even crying when a duck started waddling behind us! The zoo was very quiet we were the only ones there for the majority of the time. The zoo keeper met us in the reptile enclose and let us hold some snakes. This cheered Dylan up and although he was scared of a duck he was more than happy to hold snakes!! We finished off our trip with ice creams at the zoo’s restaurant whilst we waited for our cab to return. I recommend the zoo if you fancy a change, the scenery and placement make it worth visiting.
La Palma is known for its star gazing, the little pollution and high mountains make it ideal for exploring the skies. La Palma has a few observatory’s on the island. There are trips organised to go into the mountains, 1300 metres from sea level (above cloud level), and it is recommended that you wrap up really warm as the temperatures really drop. The trips from Los Cancajos takes minimum an hour to get to the destinations depending on who you go with and We liked the idea, but it does not seem ideal for a young child. The trips last a few hours outside in the cold and although stargazing might seem amazing for the first few minutes I think the appeal would fade quickly for little ones. Trips also do not take place close to the full moon as the natural light interferes. Luckily though I had found a star gazing walking tour on our doorstep! Every Thursday Ad Astra hosts a short walking tour in Los Cancajos. Its only 3 euro per person and lasts about an hour. This brief tour takes you on a planetary journey from the Sun to Neptune. We didn’t know what to expect and it was quite fascinating. Dylan enjoyed the late-night walk and using my friends night vision binoculars to look at the stars.
We were really surprised by this little canary Island. It truly love up to its name of the beautiful island. It has so much to offer and the landscape changes meant we didn’t even get to see the salt plains of the South or the rain forest in the north- they have been compared to the Puetro Rican rain forest! The weather was perfect at a comfortable 20-24 degrees and the short flight makes it a great destination for a short haul holiday. When Gatwick airport was having it’s drone disruptions there was a chance we would not be coming home on time, even with Christmas just a few days away I was so happy to stay here longer that I would have happily skipped over the festive period! Would we be returning? 100%