Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain is one of those marvelous places which encompass a world within one island, and where it’s easy to get off the beaten track and have fun. With volcanoes, beaches, deserts, forests and cities all within a short distance of each other, this beautiful island makes for a perfect vacation.
Tenerife has been dubbed the island of spring due to its wonderfully mild year-round temperatures, which range from a comfortable 16 to 32 degrees Celsius (61 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit), making it the perfect year-round destination. However, it can be seen from the photos there is some snow during the winter on the higher areas of the island.
Talking volcanoes, Spain’s highest peak at 3,718 m, El Teide, is located on the island and is visible from most angles in the landscape while driving around.
This dormant volcano is part of the oldest mountain range on the island, which arose from the Atlantic Ocean during a volcanic eruption about 12 million years ago, giving birth to the island as it is today. The mountain forms part of the Teide National Park, which was declared a national park in January 1954, making it one of the oldest and also the largest national parks in Spain. There is a second volcano within the park, the 3,315 m Pico Viejo, which is the second largest volcano in the Canary Islands themselves.
For anyone feeling adventurous, there is a very basic “refugio” or refuge a couple of hundred meters from the summit of El Teide where it is possible to relax and look at the stars, have a quiet night’s sleep and then wake to enjoy a breathtaking dawn over the other Canary Islands in the group. What better way to get off the beaten track in Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain than by sleeping rough?
Talking beaches, for a destination with a difference, visit Taganana, which is one of the oldest colonial settlements dating back to the 15th century.
The area offers wonderful views and within an easy hike, there are rugged beaches, including Almáciga, which is great for surfing, and Benijo, a black sand beach which is pretty much deserted on weekdays.
With the ocean in mind, dolphin spotting is a popular activity and the steep cliffs at Los Gigantes offer some of the best dolphin and whale watching on the island. Los Gigantes is a laid-back little town in the northwest of the island which has a lot to offer, not only with the dolphins and whales, but also for its friendly bars and cafes, incredible volcanic scenery and black sand beach.
In this area and throughout the island some truly unusual and beautiful plants can be found, like the “Tajinaste rojo” or Echium wildpretii plants pictured on the right.
Despite its small surface area, Tenerife offers a remarkable ecological diversity with a rich and diverse flora made up of some 1,400 species.
When it comes to fauna, the island has 56 bird types, five species of reptile, 13 different land mammals, 400 species of fish, as well as several species of dolphins, sea turtles and whales.
The original inhabitants of the Canary Islands were known as the Guanches and, if you know where to go, it is still possible to enjoy their original cuisine. Tenerife has some “hidden taverns”, which are known as “guachinches” after the original inhabitants, and while they are not widely advertised or easy to find, the food is delicious and is truly representative of these wonderful islands.
The food is reasonably priced, and is enjoyed with a few glasses of good local wine. One specialty is “papas arrugadas” or wrinkled potatoes, which are served with tasty red and green “mojo” sauces. To find these unique and hidden eateries, one has to either get really friendly with a local, or download Guachapp, a GPS phone app showing their locations.
If you have had enough of being off the beaten track and wish to experience some city life, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the place to go.
This port city offers a range of good and stylish clothing stores and some excellent electronics goods stores.
The city has a selection of lovely parks and squares to relax and enjoy a coffee or cooling drink and some excellent restaurants offering both local and international cuisine.
To get an idea of even more that is available off the beaten track on Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain, enjoy the video included below.
By Anne Sewell
El Teide CC-by-SA Daniel Tenerife
El Teide in winter CC-by-SA Daniel Tenerife
Taganana CC-by-SA CTHOE
Echium wildpretii CC-by-SA Mataparda
Punta de Teno CC-by-SA elson
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain CC-by-SA Olaf A. Koch