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San Sebastián de La Gomera, Spain


To experience the quieter side of the Canaries untouched by the tourist trade, call on the unspoiled island of La Gomera. Here the only things more ancient than the cultural traditions are the native laurel forests that blanket the volcanic peaks rising into the clouds. Plunging ravines disappear into a lush green carpet fed by gurgling streams, and craggy outcrops rise into an ever-present shroud of mist that nurtures the luxuriant highlands, lending a magical aura. So isolating was this rugged terrain that native inhabitants developed a language of whistling to communicate across the miles. The language is preserved today, so ask for a demonstration in a local restaurant in San Sebastián de la Gomera, the coastal town that descends from the hills to the black sand beaches below. The town also celebrates less ancient history, as this was the final stop of Christopher Columbus before he sailed for the Americas.