Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. Thanks to its being able to virtually guarantee sun and warm weather all year round the island attracts over 5 million annual visitors to its well established resorts such as Playa del Las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje. These resorts provide everything holidaymakers could ask for including a wide range of accommodation options, golden man-made beaches and a varied nightlife to suit all tastes. Yet there’s more to the island than its popular holiday resorts such as Mount Teide National Park which is the most visited national park in Europe. The island’s northern beaches have some of the best kite surfing and windsurfing in Europe and North Africa and most of the island is actually covered with mountains, forests and lush green moorland. There is definitely much more to Tenerife than meets the eye.
Getting to Tenerife
Geographically the northwest is a beautiful, rocky stretch of coastline with green fields surrounding timeless villages whilst the east coast is a rather unattractive, barren part of the island. The southwest coast is the centre of Tenerife’s massive tourism industry where fine artificial beaches created from sand imported from the Sahara serve as the main attraction for millions of foreign tourists. The interior is a vast lunar landscape resulting from volcanic activity where Mount Teide (3718m), Spain’s highest peak is found.
Holidays in the South of Tenerife
The majority of Tenerife holidays are centred on the popular resorts to the south of the island. Tourists are attracted by fine beaches, year round sunshine and an impressive selection of bars and restaurants. Spain it is not but for quality package tourism Tenerife takes some beating. The three main resorts of Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje have pretty much merged into one high rise mega-resort.
Such is the nature of these three resorts that there is something for everyone which results in a good mixture of people of all ages. The nightlife is so extensive that it caters for everyone and there are daytime activities to suit young families, teenagers and retired couples alike.
The highlight of the southwest coast in terms of tourism is the family orientated resort of Los Gigantes and neighbouring Puerto de Santiago. There’s plenty to do and see in the area but without the nightlife of the popular resorts further south on this coast.
Things to Do in Tenerife
From the beaches of Tenerife there’s an impressive amount of watersports on offer including windsurfing, sailing and diving. There are deep sea fishing excursions and whale watching excursions. The excursion to Mount Teide (Parque Nacional de Teide) is the most popular day trip destination where walkers can follow one of the many well marked paths through the volcanic landscape. This is Spain’s most visited national park with over four million annual visitors. History buffs will be interested by the mysterious Pyramids of Guimar on the east coast which are worth a visit.
Golfers will be delighted to know there are three good courses all within a short distance of the main resorts. Free buses are available to take tourists from each resort to a number of theme parks including two good waterparks and a go-karting track.
Carnival in Tenerife
Having fun is the name of the game in Tenerife and outside the peak tourist months there is plenty going on. Of particular note is the Carnaval celebrations which begin in early February and last for three weeks. Carnival in Tenerife is the biggest Carnaval celebration in the world apart from the legendary event in Rio de Janeiro.
North of Tenerife
Most of the population is located in the north near the island’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Relatively few tourists bother to visit this busy port town which has little to offer in terms of major sights, yet it is a pleasant, tropical town where you can get a feel for the island and its people. The student town of La Laguna just inland is well worth a visit to see its architecture by day and to enjoy its fine local nightlife by night.
Most visitors, however, will be content to spend their evenings in their chosen resort and on the north coast this is likely to be Puerto de la Cruz. This is a much more relaxed resort than the ones in the south and it remains a working town where you’ll see locals going about their daily lives which isn’t the case in the mega-resorts of the south. It’s still a busy place for nightlife which has something for everyone and there are plenty activities to keep everyone amused.
It’s well worth renting a car from Puerto de la Cruz and heading west to the beach at Playa de San Marcos and beyond to the traditional village of Garachico and the spectacular westerly tip of the island at Punta de Teno.
For a more secluded and quaint place to stay take a look at El Sauzal just a little further north along the coast from Puerto de la Cruz. This charming town is located in Tenerife’s wine growing region and offers visitors exclusive accommodation and fine dining in one of the island’s most scenic areas.