Ever wanted to rise above the crowds and disappear into the clouds? Find your lofty escape on La Palma, a gem in Spain's Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa -- and one of the steepest islands in the world. Travel in a straight line just eight and a half miles from the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma to the summit of Roque de los Much- achos, and you'll climb nearly 8,000 feet. Take advantage of the elevation at the astrophysical observatory. High above the clouds, the island offers the best stargazing in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to clear air, which is unpolluted by lights at night.
Explore more levels of this volcanic island by hiking the network of well-maintained and marked trails. Along the way, chance upon the robust and friendly inhabitants, descendants of the Guanches, indigenous peoples of the Canaries. Check in at the Hotel La Palma Teneguia Princess & Spa, then sample island delicacies such as grilled goat's cheese followed by golden pan-fried bream with papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) complemented by spicy mojo sauce. Follow that with bienmesabe, a ground almond, honey and cinnamon dessert. Don't be afraid to indulge -- you'll walk it off during that steep climb tomorrow. lapalmaturismo.com
- Hotel La Palma Teneguia Princess & Spa's room rates are available from about $72.