If your Spanish is just about ok, you might guess that caliente the name Fuencaliente alludes to some sort of heat, and you’d be right! There used to be hot springs in this area, along the southern tip of La Palma, the most western of Canary Islands. The springs were destroyed by lava in the 18th century but the name stuck.
The south of the island is a strange place indeed. If new rocks are your thing, come for a stroll amongst the volcanic rocks and take a look at the new landscaping that was done in 1971 when Teneguía, the southernmost volcano in the area, erupted (and aslo killed a fisherman). While some rocks are millions of years old, these guys are nearing forty. Like the rest of the island, the soil is very fertile here and grapes and bananas are grown in some places, but most parts of the south west feel like Mars. They’re barren, burnt and empty. And windy, very, very windy.
The Salinas in Salinas de Fuencaliente of course means something to do with salt. The salt-pans here are one of the main tourist attractions. There is a lot of information on the process and depending on the time of year that you visit, you’ll see a different part of the process. The self-guided tour could take you about forty minutes.
The white sea salt makes a stark contrast with the volcanic rock that was used to build the structures and I imagine that the waves splash all over the place there on a bad day. Hence, the need for a lighthouse. The lighthouse, Faro de Fuencaliente, is within walking distance so you might as well check it out too. There’s a pebbled beach nearby on the other side of the salt-pans, under massive wind turbines (see, someone smart knew this was one of the most windy places ever) which is nice enough if you’re fine with being blown across the sand.
There’s a restaurant right at the Salinas called El Jardín De La Sal, as well as a little tourist shop where you can buy the salt, in interesting flavours, and other local specialities (probably not enough options to make a good picnic though). I recommend the sweet potato jam if you’re open to new culinary experiences. My favourite was the dried banana – it tasted more like toffee than chips and I’ve never seen anything like it before, or since.