Alongside Majorca, Tenerife belongs firmly in the list of top destinations for British holidaymakers over the years. We've been with Tenerife since the beginning of the tourist boom here in the late 1950s and it holds a special place in British holiday history. The largest island in the archipelago covering an area of 2034 sq km, Tenerife has seen some changes over the years! Development of resorts (still in progress!) has occurred, first at Puerto de la Cruz in the north, then south at Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas, and to the west Los Gigantes, Puerto de Santiago and Playa de la Arena. Today in Tenerife you can expect the highest standards of resort amenities across the Canaries, with a choice of excellent beaches, watersports, waterparks, golf resorts and a superb choice of a diverse range of excursions. The Brits love Tenerife so much, more of us are going to live here permanently. Tenerife Resort favourites include Puerto de la Cruz to the north (still popular), and Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos to the south. (Los Cristianos now has excellent facilities for disabled travellers and Playa de las Americas offers the best choice of golf, waterparks, watersports and fun theme parks.
To the west around the iconic cliffs of Los Gigantes, Los Gigantes itself (a top marina here for diving and catamaran sailing) and nearby Puerto de Santiago and Playa de la Arena. Not forgetting fairly recent newcomers - top family resort areas such as Costa Adeje, an off-shot of Las Americas but with much more of a family vibe, and for specialist holidays the surfs up at Puerto de la Cruz, excellent kitesurfing and windsurfing at El Medano, superb walking holidays in the Teno Mountains in the west, the Anaga mountains to the north east, and Teide National Park in the centre. Some of the best of Canaries cultural and historical hotspots are here too - the historic Canarian architecture in La Laguna and La Oratava is not to be missed, and Santa Cruz is a friendly and manageable capital with a superb choice of museums and galleries. It's soon to get a new tram system too! It's easier today to push out and explore the stunning and diverse landscapes in Tenerife either by hire car or on excursion tours. Incidently, the Guanches on Tenerife (alongside those on nearby La Gomera) put up the strongest resistance to the Spanish Conquerors. It was the last island to fall to Spanish colonialists.
The Canaries is not just Tenerife, but it's easy to see why so many of us Brits think of Tenerife first when they think of the Canary Islands. The largest of all the Canary Islands, British holiday travel to Tenerife, up there with Majorca, stretches right back to the beginning of the sunshine holliday boom in the late 1950s, when cheap package holidays abroad began to be affordable, and it was goodbye to the British Holiday Camp and hello campers to the classic sunshine package beach holiday abroad - and abroad meant Majorca and Tenerife to many of us on tight budets right up to the end of the 1970s. Many of us Brits in our late 30s/early 40s will have memories of childhood holidays not in Blackpool, Cornwall and Brighton, but rather Tenerife, Majorca and Gran Canaria - it's part of our holiday history. Travellers at first headed not to the now well developed southerrn resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas (they came later, but to Puerto de la Cruz in the North via Los Rodeos Airport in North Tenerife - the main airport until the 1980s when Tenerife Sur, the southern airport was built.
Puerto de la Cruz was pretty underdeveloped when British holidaymakers first started arriving in large numbers in the late 1950s/early 1960s. This was before Cesar Manrique began developing his swimming pool and the promenade and originally rocky coastline was worked on. Holidaymakers in this early period often found themselves sunbathing on the roofs of their apartment or hotel buildings, and flight delays were a common occurance largely due to cloud over Tenerife North's airport! Looking at Tenerife today with a resident population of around 810,000, the familiar resorts are only a small part of the story, and not to push out beyond the resorts is to miss out on much. It's easy to explore Tenerife via a hire car or by booking onto some of the many excursions available.
Spain's tallest peak is here - Pico del Teide reaches an altitude of 1850 metres and the Teide National Park now has two excellent visitor centres. To the west are the spectacular Teno Mountains and great walking opportunities around Masca. To the north is pretty Garachico with it's sea water pools, and nearby La Orotava, a historical and cultural marvel. Puerto de la Cruz is chic and for shoppers it's a paradise and still an excellent holiday base. Moving to the north east, the Anaga Mountains are the oldest on the island, and again stunning walking territory, and the capital Santa Cruz is a buzzing cosmopolitan city, as rich as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for it's choice of museums and art galleries, with the Museum of Nature and Mankind a top spot for exploring Guanche pre-hispanic settlement history on the Canaries.
Puerto de la Cruz is chic and for shoppers it's a paradise and still an excellent holiday base with top attraction Loro Parque based here, plus the Cesar Manrique coastal swimming complex and some great museums and art galleries!. Moving to the north east, the Anaga Mountains are the oldest on the island, and again stunning walking territory, rolling down to San Cristobal de La Laguna, home to the Canaries oldest university and once the capital of the island. La Laguna is a cultural, historical and bohemian centre (there's a student vibe here, and the specialist shops are to die for!) The capital Santa Cruz is a buzzing cosmopolitan city, as rich as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for it's choice of museums and art galleries, with the Museum of Nature and Mankind a top spot for exploring Guanche pre-hispanic settlement history on the Canaries and the Museum of Fine Arts a hub for Canarian art.
Tenerife has the edge over Gran Canaria on best beaches (to even the score and not wanting to antagonise the still prevalent competition between the islands - Gran Canaria's capital Las Palmas has the edge over Santa Cruz for architecture, cultural centres and it's great urban beach!). Anyway, back to the topic, like it's diverse landscape, Tenerife's beaches are diverse - some are exotic black sand beaches (mostly to be found in the north of the island, especially around Puerto de la Cruz) and others are golden sands, some of which like Las Americas had a little manmade assistance but are none the worse for that. For popular nudist beaches on Tenerife head for the quiet beaches of Playa de la Tejita (El Medano), Playa de los Patos (La Orotava) and Playa de las Gaviotas (Stanta Cruz).
Starting with Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos - the big two in the south of Tenerife. Sheltered superb family beaches with safe and calm bathing are on the menu here. These two longstanding resorts are joined together by a marvellously accessible promenade lined with restaurants offering everything from Chinese to fast food, bars, holidays shops and cafes. Beaches are protected by breakwaters, and Playa de Las Vistas between the two resorts is probably the most accessible beach on the planet for disabled visitors. The promenade too is fully accessible to visitors in wheelchairs (checkout Orange Bade Mobility Specialists weblink right).
Think of a watersport and you'll find it here in Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos - jet ski, fun water rides, pedalos, a spot of surfing, diving excursions, catamaran sailing trips and more. Nearby Costa Adeje bordering on Las Americas is more of the same, but with perhaps more of a family oriented feel going on here - it's newer too. The best choice of waterparks and themeparks in the Canaries, plus golf complexes Sky Parks, Go-Karting, nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Heading north, just outside the capital Santa Cruz is the stunning 1.5km manmade beach of with golden sands from the Sahara - Playa de las Teresitas. Bordered by the Anaga mountains, Las Teresitas is dotted with palm trees, a few low key bars and restaurants, and volley ball is popular here. A popular beach with Santa Cruz locals.
Puerto de la Cruz is best known for the mammoth public swimming pool complex of Costa Martianez (designed by Cesar Manrique in the late 1970s), but Playa Jardin to the west is a very pretty black sandy beach with palm trees and some great bodyboard surfing when the swells up. Move west of Puerto de la Cruz to Playa San Marcos another great black sandy beach, or east of Puerto de la Cruz to El Bullullo for more great waves and a sandy beach. Moving back down south to El Medano north of Los Cristianos, you get good winds here, and great kitesurfing and windsurfing. Other excellent beaches on Tenerife include the pretty bay beach of Playa de la Arena to the west near Los Gigantes. For the best swimming pool complexes head to the public swimming pool in Los Gigantes near the marina, Martinez in Puerto de la Cruz, and the superb sea water pools at Garachico.
Sticking with the big smokes, the top resort locations on Tenerife, and the most popular locations for visitors to Tenerife include the southern resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas. These two are the oldest of the southern resorts, and the most developed - you navigate by acommodations here not street names. Great sheltered family beaches, a choice of waterparks including the mammoth Aqualand Costa Adeje (see weblink right), with numerous bars, restaurants, holiday shops and holiday accommodation jostling for space. A number of off-shot resorts, most of which are top family holiday hotspots, are climbing up the coast from Las Americas. These include Costa Adeje, Puerto Colon, Callao Salvaje and Playa Paraiso - generally these are quieter bases than the big two, but Costa Adeje is catching up fast.
Moving up the west coast, another popular Tenerife resort cluster includes Los Gigantes, Puerto Santiago and Playa de la Arena. When we visited in 2006 there was a fair bit of develop going on around all three of these Tenerife resort clusters (they sort of merge into one). The building work seems mostly for new properties to buy, so it's residential. It's worth just checking on your accommodation location, and whether there is some building work going on nearby. This aside, this is a warm and friendly Tenerife resort cluster, popular with families looking for a quiet yet fully serviced resort base, and with older visitors also looking for a low key resort base. Playa de Arena's beach is particularly delightful, and Los Gigantes is a hotspot for diving excursions, whales and dolphin watching trips and catamaran sailing and boat trips. (For the best views of Los Gigantes Cliffs take the boat north along the coast upto Masca for walking). These three resorts are good cheap bases too for year round walking holidays around Masca and the Teno Mountains.
Puerto de la Cruz is a buzzing and chic northern Tenerife resort these contemporary days, with a long history and a work-a-day vibe. If you want the best of both worlds, meaning ample resort accommodation, good beaches and a fabulous swimming pool complex, and plenty of local attractions of both the cultural and holiday fun kind choose Puerto de la Cruz. It's all here - numerous theme parks and attractions nearby including the famous Loro Parque (see weblink right) and Icod's famous Drago Tree, a good selection of museums and art galleries, a delightful promenade lined with Manrique designed gardens and a historic fort or two, a relaxed restaurant, bar and cafe culture, a bit of a gay scene and some good nightlife and easy access west to pretty Garachico and the Teno Mountains beyond, and east towards the wine region, the stunning and untouched Anaga Mountains and historic La Orotava and La Laguna. The only downside for some is that you do get more cloud up here in the north (it's the mountains you know - see the Tenerife weather section!). For more independent travellers though, or those looking for a resort base with a twist this will be of no consequence.
There's plenty of choice of quiet and smaller suburb Tenerife resorts located usually near one of the big ones. Good examples include La Caleta, a nice small resort between Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje, and further north the little resort bases of Playa Paraiso and Callao Salvaje. Moving southeast of Los Cristianos, Las Galletas and the Costa del Silencio coastal mini resorts offer similar quieter bases, with good beaches. El Medano is a particular favourite, with a bustling Sunday morning market, a traditional Canarian feel to it, some superb fish resaurants and the best kite surfing and windsurfing facilities on Tenerife. Likewise nearby Las Galletas is a quiet resort base with a fishing village feel, and some great surfing spots on it's coastline. To the north Garachico and San Marcos are both worth considering as quiet bases with a nice beach at San Marcos, and the great coastal sea water pools at Garrachico. Tenerife resorts off choice and great variety.
Tenerife nightlife is renowned, sometimes for the wrong reasons as in rescent years the Veronicas area of Playa de las Americas has had a somewhat negative press. After a few drug raids and a bit of smartening up they seem now to have it in hand. There were apparently a couple of murders here! Playa de las Americas remains the big one for pumping nightlife, with an excellent choice of bars lining the promenade and especially around the Veronicas and Starco Commercial Centres. Nightlife here is also good for families, with many of the larger hotels offering in-house entertainment, and most of the bars and restaurants welcome children and families with open arms.
Playa de las Americas remains popular with younger groups, and indeed is a top choice of stag and hen weekends. Neighbouring Los Cristianos has perhaps even more of a family atmosphere than Las Americas. It's also popular with holidaymakers who have mobility issues - Los Cristianos is tops for disabled access! The bars and restaurants here have a lower key vibe, with a spot of live music, karaoke and all round family entertainment.
Moving up the west coast, at Costa Adeje, Puerto de Santiago, Playa de la Arena and Los Gigantes - these Tenerife resorts are family oriented and the nightlife caters this way too. Family bars, restaurants and cafes abound. There's a large number of British residents on Tenerife, particularly up around Los Gigantes so you can expect a few family oriented English pub kind of nightlife around this area. Tenerife's capital Santa Cruz is a bustling city with a vibrant nightlife which usually commences quite late around 2am! Check out the area around Avenida Anaga to the north end of Santa Cruz.
There's something special about Puerto de la Cruz - it's got great character and charm this Tenerife hotspot location - which can serve as both a cultural holiday base or a resort holiday base. Lanzarote artist Cesar Manrique has certainly again had a hand in Puerto de la Cruz's development, and indeed it's charm. Gardens, containing the obligatory Manrique cactus' line the promenades of Puerto de la Cruz, along with chic cafes and bars. The central hub is Plaza Charco and there's a good choice of bars and some clubs and nightspots here and on nearby Avenida Generalisimo. Puerto de la Cruz is a superb cultural centre on Tenerife, especially in July when you can expect a choice of concerts and live music events. Along with Santa Cruz they like their festivals and Carnivals in Puerto de la Cruz. Great nightlife around these dates, including Exaltation of the Cross/3 May, Saints day of San Juan/23 June, Fiesta de los Cacharros/29 November.
The hub of Tenerife's cultural scene, including the best art galleries, museums exploring Guanche pre-hispanic settlement and religious history museums are to be found in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Puerto de la Cruz, La Laguna, La Orotava and for geological and volcanic history of the Canary Islands, including of course Teide and Tenerife head for the two excellent educational visitors centres in the Teide National Park.
The Museum of Man and Nature in Santa Cruz (Calle Fuente Morales s/n, Santa Cruz. Tel: 922 20 93 20) is a big affair, and a must visit on your tour of Guanche sites and history on the Canary Islands. Like the Museo Canario in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, this museum lays bare the archeological finds from pre-hispanic settlement sites on Tenerife and elsewhere in the Canaries. It also explores indepth the flaura and forna of the Canary Islands, with exhibits and information on numerous geologists, naturalists and archeologists who have come to Tenerife over the years. Checkout the weblink right for more details. Written guides in English are provided throughout the museum.
More superb museums in Santa Cruz include the Museo de Bellas Artes (Municipal Museum of Fine Arts) (Calle Jose Murphy 12, Santa Cruz. Tel: 922 24 43 58). Free Entrance! Of particular interest here is the depiction of the landing of Spanish conquerors on the beaches of Anazo, with a rather eccentric looking Alonso Fernandez de Lugo standing by his giant wooden cross. The painting is by Gumersindo Robayna Lazo and dates from 1494 and is typical of smug colonialist art - we see the same image elsewhere in depictions of movement west crushing Native Americans or indeed on the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. In this painting a Guanche warrior crouches behind a cactus looking on to the pomp and circumstance of de Lugo's landing - crouched and submissive. Catholicism and military might have arrived. Not quite the true picture though - Guanche resistance on Tenerife particularly was relentless and fearsome.
Also in Santa Cruz is the Regional Military Museum, c/San Isidro, 1 (Castillo de Almeida), Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tel: 922 843 500. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 2pm (free admission). In Puerto de la Cruz checkout the Museo Arqueologico (Archeological Museum) Calle Lomo 9, Puerto de la Cruz. Tel 922 53 58 16. There's a good exhibition on Guanche artefacts here. In La Oratava visit the Museo de Ceramica on Calle Leon (tel. 922 32 14 47. open 10am to 6pm Mon to Sat, 10am to 2pm on Sun). Also in La Oratava is the Museo de Artesania Iberoamericana (Iberoamerican Handicrafts Museum). on Calle Tomas Zerolo, Tel: 922 32 17. open from 9.30am to 6pm Mon to Fri, and 9.30am to 2pm on Sat. There's also a gofio mill just outside La Oratava. Checkout the historic Canarian architecture too in captivating La Laguna. The Tenerife museum is also here on Calle Via Lactea s/n. Tel: 922 31 52 65.
If there's one image that casts it's influence across all the Canary Islands it's El Teide. Indeed, some of the best views are to be had of Teide from the other islands, particularly from a-top of the Garajonay National Park in Tenerife's closest neighbour - La Gomera. Teide National Park, slap bang in the centre of Tenerife covers a huge area of 18,990 hectares. Spain's highest peak - Mount Teide (3718m) is here, but it's not Spain's largest national park, however it's certainly the most popular with huge numbers of holidaymakers visiting the park every year (about 4 million). Teide has been a national park, and duly protected, since January 1954. Expect to see plenty of Teide white broom with it's white blossom in spring, Teide violets and scoria and pumice on higher altitudes. On the fauna side Kestrels, Barbary partridge and Canary Lizards can all be seen here, amongst other species.
Not as starkly barren and devoid of vegetation as Lanzarote's Timanfaya National Park, the volcanic landscape you'll see here in Teide National Park and elsewhere on the Canaries is the result of basaltic magma eruptions (basaltic magma is renowned for less violent eruptions which flow for long distances), as opposed to trachytic magma which is more viscous than basaltic and can build up in volcanic crators and explode violently. As you discover more information on volcanic history on the Canaries, you realise that during volcanic episodes people generally had time to escape - they had time because the lava flow was basaltic and slow rather than violently eruptive! Teide's high altitude means that it's usually covered in snow in winter, and it's more arid here as it's well above the influence of the moist trade winds.
The Guanches called Teide 'El Cheide', and all that survives of their testament to Tenerife eruptions is a few myths and legends, although the ledge of El Teide swallowing the sun as the result of Guyota the devil who lived inside the volcano and grabbed it fits in with a possible eruption of Teide in the 13th Century. This Middle Ages eruption lasted several decades, during which black lava was thrown up and Teide grew to it's present heigh with a more peaked crater. Previously (recorded in Roman Times) the crater had been more rounded. The Guanches would certainly have known of more eruptions across the Canaries, but on Tenerife post-hispanic history records the eruption of 1704 to 1705 which was a fissure eruption with lava erupting from Siete Fuentes, Fasnia and Montana de Las Arenas.
Later the Garachico eruption is dated 1706. Montana Negra erupted on 5th May that year just south of the town. The eruption lasted 9 days and destroyed the town. Other eruptions include the Chahorra eruption of 1798 and the Chinyero eruption of 1909 which lasted 10 days, reducing the original 9 mouths of this volcano to just 3 big ones! Teide's crator is 80m across, and it's still active with rumblings in the summit crater. It's the island of La Palma that lays claim to the most recent Canary Islands eruption in 1971. An unusual rock feature, popular with film makers, in the park are El Roque Cinchado - a stunning example of the dramatic rock formations resulting from the erosion of volcanic rock. (Holy Moses - Charlton Heston leaned on one in the film 'The 10 Commandments'). For comprehensive information on the network of footpaths on Tenerife in the Teide National Park and elsewhere, check out the Tenerife Walking Holidays weblink to the right for details.
South Tenerife: Costa Adeje, Avda. Rafael Puig, 1 (adjacent to Playa de Troya). Tel.922 750 633. (an excellent tourist information centre, with some great maps here too!). Adeje - Playa Fanabe, Avda. Litoral. Tel./ Fax 922 716 539. Playa de Las Americas, Centro Comercial City Center (near Parque Santiago II). Tel.: 922 797 668. Playa de Las Vistas, Playa de las Americas, Paseo Maritimo s/n, Tel. 922 787 011. Los Cristianos Tourist Info, Centro Cultural (Casa de La Cultura), C/ General Franco, s/n (near the Mobil gas station). Tel.: 922 757 137. Las Galletas Tourist Info, Paseo Maritimo Dionisio Gonzalez Delgado. Tel./Fax: 922 730 133. In San Miguel - Avda. Galvan Bello, s/n - Golf del Sur, Tel.: 922 73 86 64.
East, Southeast & Airports Tenerife - Candelaria & Las Caletillas, Avenida Constitucion, s/n, 38550 Candelaria.Tel: 922 03 22 30. Tenerife Sur Rural Tourist Information, C/La Plaza, no 5 (near Hotel Rural Senderos de Abona), 38600 Granadilla de Abona. Tel/Fax: 922 770 362. Tenerife North Airport Tourist Information, Tel: 922 635 192. Open Mon to Sat 9am to 9pm. El Medano Tourist Information, Plaza de los Principes de Espana. Tel: 922 17 60 02.
Tenerife North. San Cristobal de La Laguna, Plz. Del Adelantado s/n, Tel: 922 631 194. La Laguna, CIT Nordeste, Avda Universidad, 9. Tel: 922 632 718. Santa Cruz de Tenerife Cabildo de Tenerife, Plaza de Espana s/n. Tel: 922 239 592. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, CIT Plada de Espana. Tel: 922 248 461. Santa Cruz de Tenerife Municipal Office, C/Castillo. Tel: 922 531 107. Anaga Rural Park Visitors Centre, Ctra. de las Mercedes, Km 6. Tel: 922 633 576. Puerto de la Cruz Tourist Info, Casa de la Aduana, C/Las Lonjas s/n. Tel: 922 38 60 00.
Tenerife North, West & Centre - La Orotava Tourist Information, C/ Carrera del Escultor Estevez, 2. Tel: 922 32 30 41. Los Realejos Tourist Information, Plaza de la Union s/n. Tel: 922 340 756. Santiago Del Teide, Puerto Santiago, Centro Comercial Seguro el Sol ( near Playa de la Arena beach), c/ Manuel Ravelo, 20 - Local 35. Tel. 922 86 03 48. Visitors Centres of Mount Teide National Park - El Portillo (to the north of the park). Tel: 922 356 000. Canada Blanca ( to the south of the park near the Parador de Canadas del Teide). Tel: 922 373 391 (Open 9am to 4pm daily). A comprehsive map of the park and guide is available free from both the visitor centres, and there's some excellent exhibits on volcanic history across Tenerife and the Canaries, and indeed ample information on the Guanche original settlers. Well worth a look in at least one of these Teide Visitor Centres.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnaval is February annually (book well ahead for accommodation if your planning to come! Check the weblink right, Spanish only unfortunately, for details). Fun frolicks begin around early February and go on for about 3 weeks. Big Carnival gala performances, street fairgrounds, dressing up and carnaval processions and masked balls are all on the menu. This big event was banned under the Franco regime - but revived after his death. There's politics in the whooping up of this great carnaval!
Also in Santa Cruz is the Dia de la Cruz celebrations on the 3rd May annually and the Festival de Musica de Canarias held every year in January and February in both Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Check the weblink right for details. In La Laguna the Romeria de San Benito Abad is celebrated on the first Sunday of July, The Carnaval in La Laguna is in Feb/March, Corpus Christi is in June and the Fiesta del Santisimo Cristo is from 7th to 15th September annually. Staying in the north, Taganana in the Anaga Mountains burns an effigy of Judas Iscariot to purge away the sins of the villagers - this usually takes place in March or April.
Puerto de la Cruz, alongside Santa Cruz the capital does a good show on Fiestas and Carnavals. The Exaltation of the Cross, when churches are covered with flowers is celebrated on the 3rd May annually. On 23rd June it's Saint's Day, the Saint in Question being San Juan. This date links in with Guanche mid-summer bonfire celebrations! The big one in Puerto de la Cruz however is across July, with a series of concers, performances, parades and big public dinners. Later on 29th November the Fiesta de los Cacharros is also celebrated. In La Orotava Corpus Christi is celebrated every June when the streets are decorated in flowers and volcanic soil! Little Garachico to the north west on the coast celebrates the town's patron San Roque - it's a big pilgrimage this event, with people from all over Tenerife flocking here. St Roch is throught to have saved the town from Black Death.
In Masca to the west villagers don traditional dress for the Fiesta de la Consolacion in the first week of December annually. The Virgin de la Candelaria in Candelaria to the north east of Tenerife takes place on the 15th August. South in Los Cristianos the Festival Son Latino takes place in late August, and celebrates the Latin music scene with lots of events.