Caressing sunshine, indulging cocktails, the pleasant sound of roaring waves and picturesque atmosphere. These are the first things that come to my mind whenever I think back on a holiday I spent on Tenerife, the most popular island of the Canary Islands.
The Canary Islands belong under the jurisdiction of Spain. They are situated in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 125-200 km west from Maroc, on the African coast. The archipelago consists of 7 main islands, and several smaller ones. The 7 islands are Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Gomera and El Hierro.
Due to their special micro climate, which makes these places an ideal destination throughout the year, they are called the islands of “eternal spring.” During winter the temperature is around 18 °C, and the summers are not unbearably hot either, you can enjoy a pleasant 25-30 °C. As the islands are surrounded by the ocean, the weather is frequently windy. This makes the islands a popular place for surf lovers, too.
You might have a stereotypical image of the islands, and you visualize sunny, sandy beaches with people lying under bamboo parasols sipping their mojito. Is it like that in reality? You are definitely not far from the truth. But the islands give its curious visitors so much more than this. Allow me to give you a quick guide to Tenerife, the biggest of the Canary Islands, so that you can have an insight into its unbelievable diversity. Depending on what your preferences are, here are some program tips.
If you prefer spending your holiday with active relaxation on a beach, you might prefer to choose the south-western coast. The water is more shallow and calm here than on the northern part of the island, which makes swimming more enjoyable. The weather on this part of the island is also better, less windy and cloudy. Moreover, while the sand throughout the island is naturally black (due to its volcanic origin), here you can find man-made beaches with golden sand, imported from the African coasts. I have to admit that I find the black sandy beaches more appealing, they are a peculiar characteristic of Tenerife, which you can hardly find anywhere else. By all means, the choice is there for you. If you prefer golden, sandy beaches, check out Playa del Duque (Costa Adeje) in a frequented tourist resort, or Playa de Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Américas, the most popular beaches on the island, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view on the mountainous surroundings, too.
Although Tenerife is a relatively small island, the northern and southern parts are different concerning both geography and weather. The northern part of the island is windy, the huge waves meet rigid cliffs on the coast, therefore its beaches are less preferable for swimming. Here you can find many places for surfing though. But unlike the south with its deserted volcanic areas, this part of the island is an amazing, truly tropical place with colorful flora, and you will also find a lot of cool programs to pass your time with. It is more authentic, too, there are less crowded beach resorts.
Puerto de la Cruz is the biggest city of the northern coast. While it provides a lot of program facilities for tourists, it is not too crowded, perfect to get to know the real “Canary-feeling.”
To maintain their heritage, the inhabitants of the city have made huge efforts. In the old town you can find romantic, narrow streets bordered with palm trees, where you might want to spend your evenings wandering around.
The city is not known for its amazing beaches though, since the huge waves and rocky coasts make swimming less enjoyable. However, they have found a solution to this by building an impressive artificial lake with amazing tropical ornamentation, called Lago Martianez. The pool, filled with ocean water, stretches right along the coast, so while you can enjoy its calm water and tropical atmosphere, you can also enjoy the view and sound of roaring waves hitting the snow white walls of the resort.
If you are an animal lover or you travel with kids, spare a day to visit Loro Park, the zoo of Puerto de la Cruz. You can easily spend a whole day in this wonderful place. You’ll find here gorillas, chimpanzees, white tigers, lots of birds, reptiles, penguins and the park also provides the visitors with several rare and awe-inspiring animal shows, such as the orca show (the only one in Europe), dolphin show, sea-lion show and parrot show. Not to be missed!
Perhaps the most important attraction of Tenerife is the volcano, Mount Teide and the national park which lies in its surroundings, which was selected as a world heritage site in 2007. Mount Teide, with its 3718m height is the highest peak of Spain. Rent a car or sign up for a group trip to see the lunar landscape and to get a breathtaking view from the top of the mountain.
If you look for some adventure, check out Siam Park in costa Adeje, which is said to be the most spectacular water park in Europe. The whole park is Thailand themed, it offers numerous slides, other water rides and a lot of facilities. In 2015, based on visitor ratings, it was selected to be the world’s best waterpark. The world’s biggest wave pool with waves up to 3m height is also found here.
The delicious meals of Spanish cuisine also await you throughout the island. You can choose from a huge variety of food in restaurants, which not only offer you the delights of Spanish cuisine, but also international delicacies. Whether you go for a tasty paella or an appetizing tapas, you won’t be disappointed. Try papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) cooked with their skins on, in salty water, served with mojo (sauces) for dipping. You can also go for a tasty stew or order from a variety of fresh seafood. Just make sure to accompany your dishes with a nice glass of sangria!
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Written by Ágnes Vincze