San Sebastian de la Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain
The second smallest of the Canary Islands maintains features unique in all the world. Deeply corrugated by gorges cut into its volcanic slopes, its highest peaks continually wring mists from the Trade Winds, resulting in a lush laurel forest ecosystem that UNESCO has designated a valuable natural heritage for all mankind. Those same precipitous gorges isolated the inhabitants from each other, and gave rise to the Silbo Gomero, a unique language that is whistled rather than spoken. This has been designated by UNESCO as a precious cultural heritage. It is taught to children in the primary schools, as a way of preserving it. Visit the photogenic, 15th Century Conde Tower, to see early nautical charts, or travel to bizarre volcanic features such as the columnar rock formations known as Los Organos. This was Christopher Columbus’s last port of call before sailing west in 1492. He carried a gift from the local governor: the first sugarcane plants to reach the New World.