Our first foray on La Palma was a long drive up to the rim of the crater. The steepest island lived up to its billing, and the road was one switchback after another all the way up the side of the mountain. The fog stayed away so we had clear views on all sides and then down into the huge hole in the earth. It was really too big to comprehend, and somehow less spectacular on top than when seen from the bottom....but beautiful all the same. We took a hike along the rim trail, but it was freezing COLD. With horizontal (rather than vertical) icicles hanging intricately from the bushes, we wore all the warm clothes we had brought along and wished for more. Luckily the sun was warm and the winds were calm. I was fascinated with the delicate ice formations, which seemed to have formed in a stiff wind or fog, yet opposite from the direction of the prevailing east wind. They began to tinkle merrily from the fences as the sun warmed the ground.
The GR131 long distance trail was tough and rocky, undulating across the uneven crater rim. Honestly, being a bit travel weary, we didn't walk uber-far on it, prefering after a couple of miles to continue the drive around the rim and then explore the northern island to get a sense of what was awaiting us. Plus, it was warmer in the car. What wimps we were that day.
All of the observatories emphasize that this would be a really good spot for some star-gazing. If only it weren't so cold up here....
Hike #27 in Walk! La Palma hiking guide. Bonus is that with the matching 1:40,000 Tour and Trail Map, we could use them in conjunction to plan our routes and drive around. It's worth noting that since all of the trails and roads on the island have been renumbered in the last couple of years, older maps and guidebooks will get you hopelessly lost. Get an updated version before you go.