More to Tenerife than the tourist trap.
Situated off the coast off the West Coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife’s status as tourist trap certainly precedes it. Indeed, as the largest of the seven Canary Island’s and one of the world’s most famous beach holiday destinations, it has earned itself a reputation that is characterised more by on tap beer and sunburnt Brits than by any signs of Spanish culture. Yet whilst the 10 million visitors to the island each year do little to stem the spread of multi-story hotels and ‘traditional’ pubs, beyond the frequented hot spots of Playa de Las Americas and Los Chrisitianos, it is certainly possible to seek out some Canarian authenticity.
Known as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’, Tenerife is blessed with a warm year-round climate that typically enjoys high sunshine levels and temperatures in the mid to high 20’s. This, coupled with the unique environmental conditions on the Island, has resulted in an extraordinary ecological diversity and a remarkable variety of landscape. As such, visitors to the Island will find a wealth of natural treasures from tropical forests and geological formations, to marine wildlife and volcanic beaches- all of which are a world away from the brightly lit bars and all-you-can-eat buffets.
With such an array of nature-rich attractions, you will be spoiled for choice when planning an itinerary. Start out by paying a visit to the Teide, Spain’s largest national park and home to rare plant species and a multitude of volcanic rock formations. It is also proud host to Spain’s tallest mountain, the Pico de Tiede, which at an awe-inspiring 3718 metres makes for invigorating walking and unmissable views. From here, head to the Loro Parque to catch a glimpse of the 340 species of parrots and other exotic animals that inhabit it.
In terms of towns and cities, the general rule of thumb for those wishing to explore beyond the resorts is the further away from the Southern tip you go, the more unspoiled landscape and culture you will find. Surprisingly, unlike Crete’s Hania and Mallorca’s Palma, the Island’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, remains for the most part unblemished by mass tourism. Every year in April the city hosts the fabulous Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, an all-singing, all dancing spectacular, and one that is said to rival even Rio de Janiero in size and popularity.
Beyond the capital, the serene town of Garachico has a distinctly Spanish flavour characterised by painted houses and cobbled streets, while La Laguna sports Castilian mansions and a World Heritage site. Look out for Tenerife lace, a traditional handicraft of drawn work embroidery that is specifically found in Vilaflor.
If you are planning to visit the island, there are two airports that serve both charter flights and scheduled flights from the Spanish mainland and various European destinations. Whilst you will inevitably want to avoid the monotonous hotel developments of Playa de Las Americas, many travel companies will offer excellent deals to the main tourist resorts which can be used as a base for exploring the Island’s diversity. Car hire Tenerife offers excellent value and can be collected from both North and South Airports and is a great way to get around.