As the second smallest of the inhabited Canary Islands, La Gomera is most popular with day-tripping short-term visitors, who will usually arrive via Tenerife, although it is also possible to get here by ferry via La Palma.
Any question about whether or not you need a hire car in La Gomera is often going to be dependent on whether or not you already have one with you, as it’s easy enough to take a car on the ferry from Los Cristianos, especially as this port is so close to all of the resorts on the southern side of Tenerife.
Cutthroat competition saw the removal of the Garajonay Express ferry service, which tended to offer much better value day trip return fares, such that it’s now difficult to get to La Gomera and back from Tenerife for less than €60 per person, a price that is considerably more expensive than any other comparable interi-sland ferry service in the Canaries. It’s actually cheaper to travel from Tenerife to La Gomera and then on to La Palma than it is to make a return trip from Tenerife!
However, one way to pay considerably less for each person is actually to take your hire car on the ferry, since this effectively works as a block booking, whereas foot passengers travelling together will pay the same rate, regardless of how many people there are in the group.
If you want to get an idea of just how challenging the terrain is on La Gomera, ask why the Fred Olsen ferry from Los Cristianos also continues to Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey? Fred Olsen might own a resort in the latter, but it is simply quicker and easier to reach these places by boat than it is to transfer people to a coach which would then have to venture much further inland.
However you choose to get here and however you choose to get around, the National Park of Garajonay doesn’t just offer some spectacular scenery in its own right, it also offers amazing views back to the island of Tenerife and Mount Teide. In the centre of the island, you will find a series of volcanic Sugarloaf mountains, the most famous of which is Roque de Agando.
- It’s small but steep – don’t be deceived by thinking that nowhere is particularly far from anywhere else, just because the island looks small on a map. Be prepared for exceptionally steep roads with numerous switch-backs. This means that you will be unlikely to want to walk even relatively short distances with heavy bags.
- You will generally find that public transport here is slow and infrequent.
- Travelling here from Tenerife by ferry will be better value if 3 or more of you are travelling together in a hire car, because you will effectively get a group discount, whereas you won’t get this travelling as foot passengers.
- You need a car in La Gomera if you want the flexibility to go hiking in any location, or simply if you want to see the island at your own pace, and to be able to stop and start when you want.
- If you are flying in rather than taking the ferry, then you should hire a car at La Gomera airport. Always arrange this ahead of time, as the car-rental companies don’t usually hold many cars here.
- If you are arriving on La Gomera by ferry, and want to hire a car locally, then you really must also book this well ahead of time, because you will be need to be met by a car company representative at the port.
- You could combine a visit to La Gomera with a continuation onto La Palma, although in a rental car you are still going to need to return it to the original island from which you hired it.
Note that to take your rental car on the ferry, you must check with your car hire company first. Some will allow this free of charge, some will charge you a fee, and others will simply not allow it at all.
Ferries (with or without a hire car from elsewhere)
- For two people travelling together, or for solo travellers, it will usually be more expensive to travel here by ferry if you have a hire car with you.
- It is still very easy to get to the port of Los Cristianos from anywhere in Tenerife, and then to travel to La Gomera as a foot passenger.
- There are also numerous one day tours of La Gomera which operate from Los Cristianos and elsewhere in Tenerife. These can usually work out better value than travelling individually as a foot passenger, since the coach company is able to command a considerable discount on the ferry fare.
- The ferry companies provide local free shuttle bus services around the resorts on the southern side of Tenerife which are timed to meet each ferry.
- If you are travelling here from Tenerife without a car, then you will have more options to shop around, for example by also looking at internal flights from Tenerife North airport.
- If you are visiting La Gomera without a car, then you have much more flexibility to pick and choose hiking routes which start and end in different places. It’s easy enough to combine this with the local bus service if you plan this carefully, but don’t expect local bus drivers to stop for you between bus stops, especially in more central parts of the island, where there tend to be a lot more hikers trying to do this.
- Taxis in the Canary Islands are excellent value, even on La Gomera. Since the taxi meter is set to price your journey on distance, rather than on how long the journey takes, it can be very useful to take a taxi from the coast into the much higher altitudes of the middle of the island, and then to walk down from there.
- Unlike the national parks of Teide in Tenerife and Timanfaya in Lanzarote, it’s very easy to visit Garajonay National Park by bus, simply because it is situated plump in the middle of the island, so most of the bus routes pass through it anyway.
- Car hire on La Gomera is generally going to be considerably more expensive than it is on the larger Canary islands like Gran Canaria, for the simple reason that there just isn’t so much competition here, and most of the major international hire car companies are not represented.
Although it’s absolutely worth having a car on La Gomera if you have already hired one on neighbouring Tenerife (or La Palma), this isn’t the sort of destination where it’s absolutely essential. In fact, if you are quite happy exploring the island at a slightly more relaxed pace, or if you simply like hiking on routes where you aren’t tied to having to return back to wherever you parked, then you will find that you really don’t need a car on La Gomera. You might also still prefer to drive here if it gives you a better deal on the ferry, but if your question is whether or not you should hire a car in La Gomera because you are arriving here without one, then we would generally say that it won’t be worth the hassle or the expense.
Is it worth hiring a car in La Gomera? No!