The majority of Tenerife’s natural beaches are made of black, volcanic sand which doesn’t sound too appealing. However, as one of the top tourist destinations in Europe there have been plenty funds available to allow the tourism authorities to invest heavily in creating some amazing man made beaches by using imported golden sand from the Sahara and by pumping sand from the seabed.
Some of these are amongst the best you’ll find in Europe with first class facilities and an impressive selection of watersports on offer. The best Tenerife beaches are obviously located near the main resorts of the south coast and around Puerto de la Cruz in the north. The west coast consists mainly of rocky coves whilst volcanic landscape of the east coast has done little for touristic development though windsurfers might choose to disagree.
Beaches on the South Coast
It is around the major tourist resorts of Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje on Tenerife’s south coast that you’ll find some of the island’s finest beaches. Several of these have been awarded the European Blue Flag in recognition of the cleanliness of their sand and sea.
Los Cristianos is well served by two main beaches and numerous smaller ones very close to the main hotels. The actual Playa de los Cristianos is the most central with grey sand in the protected harbour area whilst Playa de las Vistas with yellow sand collected from the seabed is a little further east and is equally well sheltered. Both have a fine selection of bars and restaurants and a limited selection of activities. The Los Cristianos beach is particularly safe for children and there are plenty playgrounds available generating a strong family atmosphere.
Playas de Troya is the main beach for the Playa de las Americas resort and is probably Tenerife’s most famous beach. It is well sheltered and central to the town with shallow water, restaurants and a good selection of watersports. On days when the sea is rough, large waves provide some good surfing opportunities for novices. More experienced locals prefer to look for better surf conditions just behind the Conquistador Hotel.
A little further north on the coast of Costa Adeje is the small, stoney beach of La Caleta which is a good place for snorkelling and there are some good fish restaurants there. Between Las Americas and La Caleta is a little known cove with a sandy beach called Playa de la Enramada.
Other beaches worth checking out are Fanabe and Torviscas which both have golden sand, great facilities and plenty watersport options. Playa del Bobo is a good choice if you fancy learning to sail or to windsurf.
Beaches on the West Coast
Heading along the west coast from Costa Adeje you’ll soon see signs for Playa Paraiso after about 10km. This is a tourist development centred on a small cove which is near the small, stoney beach at Callao Salvaje. Far more impressive is Playa de la Arena a little further along the coast.
Lying just south of Puerto de Santiago, Playa de la Arena is one of the most attractive coves in Tenerife. In spite of its black sand it has long been recognised as a Blue Flag beach and is well equipped with bars, restaurants and general beach facilities.
The fishing village of Puerto de Santiago has no beach to speak of though its rocky cove is a popular spot for sunbathing. This is a good area for snorkelling and the island’s best scuba diving opportunities are around here. Playa de San Juan is popular for such activities as well as for surfing. A little further on is the neighbouring resort of Los Gigantes which is the major resort of the west coast though Playa de los Gigantes is only a small, black, sandy beach.
Beaches on the East Coast
The east coast south of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has little to offer the visitor in terms of beaches and most visitors only ever skirt this coast via the TF-1 motorway that links the main resorts of the south with the island’s capital. Incessant winds along this coast have made the sandy beach at El Médano, just east of Tenerife Sur airport, world famous as a top destination for windsurfers and kitesurfers. The world windsurfing championships have been held here. This is not for novices as conditions are extremely testing. Las Galletas on the southern most tip of the island is a better place for beginners.
Playa de El Cabezo is a continuation of El Médano to the north. This has golden sand and also hosts major windsurfing championships including the Tenerfe Grand Prix. There is little more of interest heading north along this east coast until you reach the pleasant village of Candelaria which has a small beach just to the north which is good for swimming.
On the north easterly tip of Tenerife, beyond Santa Cruz, is one of the island’s most popular beaches thanks to the number of people heading out of the capital to get there. Playa de las Teresitas was artificially built with imported sand from the Sahara which has produced a most attractive beach shaded by palm trees with a fine selection of bars, restaurants and amenities.
Beaches on the North Coast
Around the northern headland from Playa de las Teresitas is the delightful Playa del Roque which has superb views out to sea. Strong waves make this a popular spot for surfers. The neighbouring Almáciga and Benijos beaches are smaller and equally as attractive.
Continuing along this coast you’ll soon come to the north’s premier resort, Puerto de la Cruz. Its main beach Playa Jardin, just west of the resort, has been completely redeveloped with sand extracted from the seabed. The result is a fabulous Blue Flag beach lined with beautiful gardens which is well protected and is extremely safe for children. This further enhances the reputation of Puerto de la Cruz as an attractive family resort.
Heading west from Puerto de la Cruz, before arriving at El Guincho, is Playa San Marcos. With black sand this is one of the north coast’s most attractive beaches located in the vicinity of the wine producing town of Icod de los Vinos.