The salt pans of Fuencaliente are situated in the south of the island of La Palma, (which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve).
On this spot, in the year 1967, the idea was born to construct salt pans in order to supply the local La Palma market. In spite of the poor expectation of salt production elsewhere in the Canary Islands, Don Fernando Hernandez, a visionary, started this difficult enterprise according to the model of the salt pans in Lanzarote, with the help of Don Luis Rodriguez, an expert in sea salt extraction.
A third generation of salt producers now takes up the challenge to make the salt more popular. This family has united in their effort to gain recognition for their enterprise.
The craft work in the salt pans is passed on from sons to grandsons, always maintaining the same name of TENEGUÍA Sea Salt, as homage to the last eruption on the island. The volcano Teneguía spattered this spot with its ashes in 1971, when it erupted and interrupted the construction of the salt pans for a year.
Ornithologists, botanists and scientists took a keen interest in this area and in 1994 it was declared an Area of Scientific Interest. (By law of LENAC 12/1994, of 19th December).
The salt pans have expanded. In 1994, with help of one of the more important UNESCO programs, the salt extraction area was enlarged to its present extension of 35.000 square m. and finally the dream has been realised. The salt extraction complex now forms part of one of the important natural visitor attractions on the island.
The salt shines, not just in the constant heat of the sun and the young land surrounding it, but also after dusk when the lighthouse illuminates the south of La Palma.
Welcome to the salt pans of Fuencaliente, created through hard labour of nature and man, In mutual harmony and respect, in order to give life to TENEGUÍA Sea Salt.
… A spot where black and white come together, created through the magic of nature and the labour of man.
The mud sticks to the rock to hold the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean, of which small dense drops of salt are formed. Labyrinths of rock, where small mounts of salt are placed in the passageways between the crystallizing ponds.
On the bottom of the different basins and pans a variety of colours can be seen: pink, white, yellow…giving life to various small micro organisms and crustaceans such as Dunaliella salina and Artemia salina which attract migrating waders that feed in these waters: plovers, dunlins, sandpipers, turnstones, even flamencos and white shelducks have landed in this spot.
This magical spot, born in the arms of the volcanoes San Antonio and Teneguía is able to transform water into small diamonds; mud and stone into pink and white colours, forming a contrast with the darker shades of the volcanic soil; the wind into small whispers of energy that bring many birds a place to rest in the salt pans and the sun that goes up and down, bringing heat all day long.
Neither the power of nature could resist the beauty of a spot created by man. The lava flows of the Teneguía streamed downhill burning everything in their path. The locals feared for the lighthouse and the salt pans in the area. But the left arm of the lava stream, just before reaching the old lighthouse and the newly-built salt pans, began to slow down and stopped altogether only 200 m. away, because of the flatness of the land or maybe for some other mysterious reason.
“If the lava would not have stopped, the dream of the builder of the salt pans would have been brought to its knees and would have disappeared into the waters off the point of the island, together with the unrelenting lava streams.” the chronicler Antonio Martin tells..
The lava flows of the Teneguía volcano stopped right at the edge of the salt pans. The Teneguía took pity on the old dream and only touched it, without destroying it, and as such made it stronger.
Documentation and photos: THE TENEGUÍA VOLCANO. Chronicle of an eruption in the 20th century by Juan Carlos Diaz Lorenzo, 2001.