The busiest and some might say the most boisterous of Spain's Canary Islands, Tenerife offers plenty of the Canaries' specialities - beaches, family entertainment and dramatic walking trails as well as a good helping of all-night raves, foam-bars and other exotica.
Like most of the islands Tenerife's climate is fine year-round, though the north section of the island tends to be cooler and wetter than the south section.
December - February is a busy time, with many visitors being of the older generation, while families and younger tourists tend to fill the beaches and trails May - September.
Tenerife interior, Mt. Teide and 'Cathedral' rocks in foreground, the Canaries.
Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife, a busy port town with fine shopping, tree-lined avenues and squares.
- Puerto de la Cruz is the oldest beach resort in Tenerife and still retains some old buildings and Canarian character in places, especially around the fishing port. Puerto is convenient for tourists who would like a little foreign flavour in their holiday - at a range of prices - but also offers some superb attractions: Lago Martianez (see in Beaches section); Loro Parque (see Wildlife Parks); Jardin Botanico; Playa Jardin (good beach) and more...
- La Orotava is Tenerife's best traditional old town, full of handsome architecture, shady squares and an excellent botanic garden, La Hijuela del Botánico. Nearby are three good black sand beaches as well as sensational walks in the Orotava mountains.
- Garachico, a small fishing port, was almost erased by lava three hundred years ago, but is now a delightful and interesting town.
Garachico, Canary Islands
Things to do:
- Piramide de Arona (popular entertainment shows).
- Magma Arte y Congreso Centre (concerts and festivals).
La Hacienda (big variety shows).
Pleasure Island (family theme park).
Tenerife's newest concert hall in Santa Cruz
- Loro Parque (Puerto de la Cruz; www.loroparque.com), set in lush landscaped gardens, claims to house the largest parrot collection in the world, but also orcas (killer whales), sea-lions, dolphins, gorillas, tigers and a huge penguin house where 12 tons of snow falls every day.
- Parque las Aguilas (aka Eagle Park or Jungle Park; www.aguilasjunglepark.com) is a zoo and botanical park housing over 500 birds and animals in acres of jungle.
On the Jungle Raid you can walk across suspension bridges, waterfalls, lagoons, through caves or take a ride on the jungle toboggan.
- Animal Farm Granja (www.tenerifedonkeys.com/) is a traditional working farm 10 minutes drive from the resorts of Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. The caldera is considered an area of 'extraordinary natural importance' by the government and surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and is a good destination for families.
- Monkey Zoo Park (just off TF1), 5 minutes from Los Cristianos and Las Americas is another kid-friendly attraction where tourists walk through the animals' environments, feeding them, stroking them and being used as a climbing frame.
- Off-road rides with Motocross365 (San Miguel; www.motocross365.com). A motorcycle licence is preferred but not essential; Motocross365 can supply you with gear and boots. Prices start from €175 per day.
- Go-Karting (Karting Club Tenerife, off TF1 at Parque de la Reina) great facilities and good safety record, with two different courses, a serious 1200m long course for 16+ years-old, or a junior course for kids.
- Quad Park (La Camella) 10 minutes from Los Cristianos. This off road adventure park is fun for the all the family, with no license required.
- Rafting Bike (www.raftingbike.com). No pedalling is required on this 22 mile downhill bike ride from volcano to the sea. Wooooah! Now that's my idea of a relaxing bike ride!
High on hiking, Pico Viejo at 2,600m
Some of the best Tenerife Walking/Hiking Trails:
- Barranco del Infierno, (aka Hells Gorge, Adeje region), 3kms each way. This is Tenerife's most popular walk, of medium difficulty and taking about two hours each way, it starts and ends at Calle los Molinos, Adeje old town.
The trail wanders through and around steep ravines, bizarre rock outcrops, stunning mountain peaks and ends at a surprise waterfall. The panoramic views en route are awesome.
This walk costs 3 euros; only 200 hikers a day are allowed on the trail and only 80 can be on it at any one time so it's best to book ahead.
- Mt. Teide summit. At 3,718 metres above sea level, this is the highest mountain in Spain. Part of the summit route can be completed by cable car but fitter tourists can do a six hour hike up on the path that starts from Montaña Blanca, next to the road. This is the only ascent route allowed.
- Masca Valley to the sea. Masca is a picturesque village perched on dramatic rock ridges. There is a spectacular three hour hiking trail from the village down the narrow path to the beach and Masca Bay, surrounded by the cliffs of Los Gigantes.
Isla Baja offers a variety of lovely coastal trails scattered with inviting rock pools and opportunities to see Mount Teide from another angle, as well as visit a couple of delightful little towns such as Garachico.
Las Cañades, another of Tenerife's top hikes provides well-marked paths in bleak and surreal landscapes; in this case 'top' is the operative word since the average altitude for Las Cañadas is around 2,000 metres.
This trail is a great tourist draw so the car parks can fill up quickly in season.
- North Anaga Mountains, excellent marked walks at about 1,000m, past mountains, terraces, along the coast and through forests and cute villages where cold beers await you. Low and chilly cloud is not uncommon.
- The Orotava Valley, more spectacular walking though valleys and forests but with a distinct lack of supplies en route and possible low, cold cloud.
Classic Canaries' eccentric rock strata
- Ride horses from Aldea Blanca, a traditional Spanish farm 10 Km from Los Cristianos, or for a more up-market experience trot along to the Rancho Bonanza.
- Mount Teide at 12,402 ft Mount Teide is Tenerife’s most obvious landmark and the peak can be climbed or accessed by cable car.
- The Cliffs of the Giants (Los Gigantes) drop steeply into the sea from 800m up. Hike above them or take a boat ride from across the bay towns of Los Gigantes or Puerto de Santiago.
- Piramides de Guimar (www.piramidesdeguimar.net) are interesting step-pyramids, similar to those in Egypt and Mexico.
- Whale Watching from Puerto Colon, Los Gigantes or Los Cristianos with different tour operators and different styles - swim off the back of the boat, sail on a catamaran, have a generous picnic aboard. Bottlenose Dolphins and Pilot Whales are most-spotted but sometimes Sperm or White Whales pop their flukes up.
- Jetbikes and parasailing are widely available.
- B.O.B. Diving. Breathing Observation Bubble diving requires no breathing apparatus and goes down to 5 meters. Guided dives last 25 minutes.
- Scuba Diving. Learn to scuba dive in one day and then head for superb Abades Cove.
- Submarine Safaris operate off Amarillo Golf, Golf del Sur and Costa del Silencio; doing 1 hour underwater tours.
- Aqualand (Costa Adeje) A wild and wet water theme park.
- Inter-Island Tours run trips to unspoilt La Gomera island.
- Vitanova Spa (Hotel Gran Tacande) offers different experiences ranging from Turkish baths to icy showers.
Aqua Club Thermal (Torviscas) features a large pool with 300 water jets.
Playa de las Teresitas, Canary Islands, Spain
Some of Tenerife's Beaches:
Tenerife now has many fine, imported, yellow (aka 'golden') sand beaches with superb facilities around the tourist resorts instead of black sand that is prevalent in the Canaries. If beach colour is important to you, check before you book.
Playa de las Teresitas, pictured above, is commonly considered to be Tenerife's best beach and a prime target for anyone staying in Santa Cruz. It had a makeover in 1973 with the addition of 4 million sacks of yellow sand imported from the Spanish Sahara. Teresitas beach is 1.5 kms long, scattered with palm trees, cafés, bars and marine sports facilities. Volleyball and aerobics are popular activities.
Playa de las Americas is a youth (yob?)-oriented beach resort, with almost no recognition that tourists are on Spanish territory; pubs, restaurants, Sky TV, night-long action at full volume, a promenade built for staggering on and all the chip butties necessary for a beach freak who can't handle foreign food.
Los Christianos, this new tourist resort sports one of the best, safest and longest yellow sand beaches on the island thanks to a big hole in the Sahara desert; it comes with with all the usual trappings as well as a useful harbour for marine activities and suits an older market than Las Americas. The kid-friendly AquaPark Octopus is nearby.
Playa de Torviscas is a stretch of mainly white sand beaches that include Playa del Duque, Fañabé, Torviscas, San Eugenio and the original Playa de las Americas.
Playa del Médano - a small family resort with a 2km beach washed by shallow waters but with constant breeze, so ideal for windsurfing but not so good for sunbathers.
Lago Martianez is a vast, user-friendly artificial lagoon on the coast at Puerto de la Cruz, with four adult pools and three kid's pools. Landscaped, sanded and planted with both trees and sculptures, it's a fine first for the Canary Islands - though not for the world as Australia got there first with Cairns' lagoon.
Naturist beaches, South:
Playa de Diego Hernandez - a nudist beach near La Caleta.
Playa la Tejita is an attractive and well-sorted nudist beach, 2 km west of El Médano.
Playa la Pelada - a small, secluded beach of black sand 2 km the east of El Médano.
Tenerife's Puerto de la Cruz and its black sand beach
- January 5th (night) - Procession of the Three Kings in Santa Cruz, Los Cristianos, Puerto de la Cruz and other towns.
- May 1st, May Day is a national fiesta with celebrations in Santa Cruz for the whole month.
- June, Corpus Christi: Carpets of flowers and volcanic earth are spread around in La Orotava, La Laguna, Icod de los Vinos, Adeje and other towns.
- June, Music Festival of the Canary Islands: A classical music festival with international participants.
- August, Fiesta of the Holy Virgin, an island-wide celebration.
- Second Sunday in August, Romería of San Rocque in Garachico and a Festival of International Folklore in Los Cristianos.
- September, Sabandeño Festival: An International Folklore Music Festival in La Laguna.
- November, Festividad de Todos los Santos, All Saints Festival, a national holiday.
- End of November, San Andrés, new wine tasting in Icod, La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz.
- Christmas (Navidad) Festivities including concerts, nativity plays, christmas lights and other events.
Tenerife's coast at dusk
Puerto de la Cruz and Las Americas both have popular gay attractions bars, clubs and more.
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