My trip to Tenerife, the largest island of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean west of the coast of Morocco, has for sure already been planned before I started the trip.
Tenerife is not only the largest of the Canary Islands, but also the most diverse. The northern part has changeable weather which can change quite fast even from rain to sunshine and the southern part is a good place with quite secure sunshine and beach weather. There is city life in the island’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, bigger towns like Puerto de la Cruz but also small villages in the back country around the mountain Teide which is a volcano and Spain’s highest peak. The nature is another reason: a high volcano with diverse lunar like landscape, cliff coast, the green Orotava Valley and much else to see and experience. So there are a lot of reasons to visit Tenerife, in the following report I will tell you about my experiences on the island.
Arrival and first day:
Already while flying into Tenerife the diversity of the island is obvious. While flying in from north-western direction you have a great view on the green cliff coast in the west and the Teide as the center of the island. The Airport Tenerife South however is located in the dry south.
After collecting the car from the rental station it took us one hour to reach our hotel in Los Realejos in the northern part. We chose the Maritim Hotel right next to the coast, but more about hotels and restaurants will be told later on.
After checking in and bringing out luggage to the hotel room we decided to roam through the nearby Punta Brava which we were able to reach by foot. After having something to eat and getting some drinks for the fridge in our hotel room we discovered the nearby beaches. Between Punta Brava and the center of Puerto de la Cruz there are a couple of beaches that are really nice and that are naturally made of black sand due to the volcanic rocks at the coast.
After a long journey, a lot of walking around and snacking we decided to chill out in the hotel room for the rest of the evening, having a beer there and enjoying the sea view.
Second day, La Orotava and Santa Cruz:
The morning of the second day didn’t actually bring the weather we expected. A little cloudy with possible rain. So after breakfast we decided to visit the nearby valley of La Orotava, the so called “Green Valley” where whine and bananas are grown for example. The village of La Orotava is definitely worth a visit for everyone. The typical balcony houses line the streets in some places, great views down into the valley from some places and a beautiful little park right between the big church (Nuestra Senora de la Concepción) in the city center and the post office. As everywhere where there are tourists there are lots of souvenir shops in La Orotava. Most of them sell the typical junk you get anywhere just with another city name on it, but we discovered the “Canary Concept” as one of the best souvenir shops I have ever seen: all regional products, whine, spirits, honey, spices, handmade decoration and art. If you are in this city, don’t let the other shops fool you, if you want a unique souvenir, you should go to this shop.
Anyways after visiting La Orotava we proceeded to drive to Santa Cruz, the capital of the island.
Santa Cruz has a lot of cultural offers. The modern Auditorio, a huge concert hall and one the city’s landmarks for example offers great classical concerts and other events. But the city center itself seemed a bit like any other big city to me. A lot of shopping possibilities (La Rambla is a very good tip for shopping, dining and relaxing), large convenient stores, a big not so pretty port and a lot of traffic. All in all we didn’t spend a lot of time here, just for some walking around and having lunch, so possibly there is a lot we didn’t see.
After getting back to our car we drove to the beach of Las Teresitas, just a few minutes from the city center of Santa Cruz. A beautiful haven to leave your cares behind after a long shopping day or a lot of touring around. We drove up the cliffs on the street to Iguesto and at the peak of the cliff there is the best location to enjoy the sunset. You can sit down and watch the last people down at the beach, the beautiful village of San Andrés at the coast on the other side and the sun going down behind it.
After enjoying that great sight we decided to go back home, have another late night snack and another beer in the hotel. As you see, the weather here changes very fast. We had grey and cloudy weather in the morning and the evening was sunshine with a blue sky.
Third day, Loro Parque and Icod:
As day three started a little grey also we decided to check out the world famous Loro Parque which was only a few minutes by foot from our hotel. From the entrance of the park a through the different compounds and aquariums we were delighted with the diversity of tropical animals that one can see here. The park started as a bird park with parrots and developed to a huge animal park today, hundreds of visitors a day and a lot of money invested into nature funds worldwide. Unfortunately it began to rain when we entered the park, but that was the perfect opportunity to check out the shows: the funny Loro Show where parrots and cockatoos fly over your heads and do little tricks, the Dolphinarium with a great dolphin show and the Orca Ocean where Orcas show what they can do (especially flooding the splash zone). All shows were pretty entertaining and also informative about today’s risks for the animals in wild. After the rain stopped we went on seeing the other animals like Bengal Tigers (white tigers), Sloths (they have three actually in pretty large compunds), hundreds of different birds, the big penguin hall and a lot more. If you like animal parks, this is definitely the most important thing you should do when on Tenerife: visit Loro Parque, you won’t regret it and you can spend hours here.
After leaving the park and having lunch we decided to go to the villages of Buenavista del Norte and Icod de los Vinos. Buena Vista del Norte is a small and sedate village with a beautiful little city center. A small pavilion with a café inside is the center of the city’s central place. A few small restaurants and cafés surround this place, historical bulding and a refurbished cathedral are rounding the sight up. Not much else to see here. Unfortunately the street to Punta del Teno, a great viewpoint to see the cliff coast and the Teide in the background, so we decided to drive up the mountains a little which brought us to Teno Alto, a small village with only 4-5 houses and a tiny church but with a great view around also. Not easy to get here, only a really small street goes up there, if another car comes at you, one sometimes has to drive back to the curves to have enough place to pass.
On the way back down and to Los Realejos we took a short break in Icod de los Vinos, home to the world’s oldest dragon tree, that is said to be more than 1000 years old.
Day four, up to the Teide:
Day four was our mountain and volcano day. After breakfast we sat in the car and drove all the way up to the cable car up the Teide mountain. It’s a long way, but it’s really worth it. We had to go through the green valley of La Orotava again, went through the beautiful conifer forrest until the timber line. When entering the huge crate in that the Teide rises the landscape seems to look like a real lunar landscape: huge lava rocks, no grass or bushes, only rocks and the visible cooled down streams of lava. Even if you don’t want to go up the mountain with the cable car, the landscape in the area around is a must see!
The price for the cable car is quite high in my eyes (26€ per adult), but anyways it’s worth the waiting at the station. Up the mountain you arrive in the same place as the hikings paths (the area is great for mountain hiking by the way, but due to the rocky ground it might be really challenging) with different viewpoints one can walk to (aware of that there is rocky ground, one needs sturdy shoes to be able to walk around here). Unfortunately that is not the very top of the Teide, but anyways the views are impressive. The peak can only be reached by a challenging hiking trail which needs a preauthorization as there are only 50 hikers an hour and 200 a day allowed. So if you want to hike up all to the top, you should apply early from home.
After getting back down and to the car we left the huge crate to drive to Los Gigantes, the highest European cliff coast. The town of Puerto de Santiago offers great views on the coast and you can also start round tours with boats, whale watching and jet ski tours from here. When on these tours, there is also an opportunity to swim near the coasts which is really impressive I bet.
Day five, recreational day:
For sure a holiday should also have minimum one day to relax and get your head free. We chose the last day for this. Chilling out at the pool, roaming through the streets to have some snacks, have some drinks at a bar and reading a book. That’s what we did on the last day, almost nothing important.
And so was the fifth day. After breakfast we checked-out and drove straight to the airport to have some last snacks and duty free shopping before getting on the plane back home.
I hope this was a possibility to let you see how we are travelling, what is important to us and what awaits you in future reports.
Within the next days I will publish a post with important tips for what to know and what is important when travelling to Tenerife (including some restaurant, hotel and sight tips in short form).