Situated on the Eastern coast of La Palma, Santa Cruz is the island's 'capital' town, the second largest town after Los Llanos de Aridane. I've only been to Santa Cruz a couple of times but while it's not a place I visit every time I go to La Palma, it's certainly worth seeing. Walking down some of the streets in Santa Cruz is a bit like walking through a paint shop, with houses painted in a huge variety of bright colours, shades of blue, yellow, orange, green and even red, in addition to white.
Santa Cruz was once one of the most important ports in the Spanish empire, linking Europe and the New World, and it still has a colonial, almost Caribbean feel. In fact, in the 16th Century Santa Cruz was the third largest port in Europe after Antwerp and Seville. Many of the riches that the Spanish brought back from their colonies in the Americas passed through Santa Cruz and the town's architectural heritage, with lovely colonial-style houses set on cobble stone streets remains pleasantly visible. It's still a port today, with ferries travelling to and from the other Canary Islands and Cadiz on mainland Spain, and is also a popular stop-off for passing cruise ships.
You can learn a little about the town’s history at the Museo Insular in the 16th-century monastery, where exhibits are laid out in rooms with elaborately carved ceilings around a cloister planted with citrus trees. In addition to the Museo Insular with its collection of paintings and art, it's worth visiting the Chico and Circo de Marte theatres. You'll also find a mock-up of Columbus' ship the 'Santa Maria' at the northern end of the boulevard in Santa Cruz which houses the maritime museum.
Calle Real is the town's main street, mostly cobbled, and is home to many shops, squares, large houses and interesting buildings. A walk along this street is a must. Plaza de España is a popular meeting point for locals, and also home to the Town Hall and the Church of El Salvador.
Placeta del Borrero is a pretty little Canarian square, surrounded by houses, and a good place to stop and enjoy a barraquito or glass of local wine while you watch the world drift past.
Another interesting place to visit is the walls of the Castle of Santa Catalina, a military fortification that was built to defend the town from pirates in the 16th and 17th centuries. If you're looking for a little colour, Avenida Marítima is the town's most popular photo opportunity, lined with typical Canarian houses with beautifully decorated wooden balconies.
If you decide to visit Santa Cruz, it's worth remembering that the town is more or less dead between 2pm and 5pm when most shops are shut, so plan to have your lunch during these hours, and join the locals sitting at one of the many pavement cafés.