Coastal change hits Top Guia

There’s a bit of a revolution going on in the sleepy municipality of Guia de Isora on the west coast of Tenerife. The old deserted banana plantations on the coast near Alcala have been cleared and a major new hotel, Palicio de Isora, part of the Sol Melia chain, is reaching completion.

AlcalaThe stretch of coast is familiar to me as I used to live in Puerto de Santiago near Los Gigantes and work for The Tenerife Sun from their office in Alcala. The small fishing cove of Alcala is a great favourite of mine as I used to swim off the quayside in my lunch break and frighten the fishes. Recent changes have seen stone steps into the sea added, I had to make do with a steel ladder, and a dyke below the sea surface now calms the waters.

The big changes come as I walk along the renewed coastal path heading west. The Hotelconcrete walkway takes me around the headland to a large terraced area newly planted with young palms and shrubs, and miradors (viewpoints) with seating. The huge new hotel is very imposing and although the improved coast access and easily trodden paths are welcome, I can’t help wondering if the trade off is worth it. Will they be able to fill the hotel, will the hotel pools be enough to please the guests, as swimming off this wilder coastline beyond Alcala is a big risk, and will the influx of 100’s of tourists overrun the rural charms of this rocky coast.

Past the hotel, the new walkway finishes and I’m back on the old track clinging to the shore and dipping and rising on it’s way to Punta Blanca, where the sea gets rougher as the cliffs of Los Gigantes appear in the distance. The local surf club have come as close as anyone can to taming the sea at this point and have been very outspoken about the destruction of this special environment. For years this was a magnet for campers, many virtually living here full time, and on holiday weekends it was swelled by many more campers from the big towns, leaving a legacy of litter and rubbish. The council and the police have now won the battle and cleared the campers away – at least for now.

Punta Blanca

It’s a leisurely hours ramble from Alcala to the end of the path at El Varadero and i’m left with mixed feelings. The new hotel and walkway stand for progress and a new breath of life for an area where fish and bananas can no longer sustain the economy but the rugged beauty of the coast, the locals fishing off the rocks and La Gomera standing proud out at sea are still sights to stir the defiant cry for tradition.