El Médano is Tenerife's most laid back resort where the surf dudes and the all-over tan seekers come to spend energy on the sea and strip off in the sun. Despite gradual expansion and development, it's a resort which has managed to side step that mass tourism feel and stay true to its bohemian roots. It's a gentle resort where nature provides most of the entertainment and it's ideal for families with young children who want to avoid the bigger and more brash resorts.
In summer, trade winds are a constant companion in El Médano, battering coiffured curls into submission and providing the conditions for world class windsurfing and kiteboarding competitions. During the winter the winds ease off a little and sometimes a whole week can go by without feeling like you're in a tumble drier, allowing the resort's other extreme sport of nude sunbathing to enjoy a sand-in-awkward-places reprieve.
When it comes to Tenerife beaches, El Médano is blessed with more than its fair share and it's also the only place on the island where you'll find natural golden sand created from the erosion of the pale, pumice coastal rocks. The town beach is a delightful spot for families with shallow waters and backed by a big playground and more places to buy ice cream than you can shake a cone at. Beyond the iconic Montaña Roja which landmarks the resort, Playa Tejita is the popular choice of nude sun bathers. At the end of the board walk, Playa Machado belongs to surfers while the wild waves of Playa El Cabezo on the eastern headland keep the kite boarders flying.
In keeping with the character of the resort, El Médano hotels have more charisma than chic and more friendliness than facilities with the resort's Hotel El Médano occupying pole position on the beach and providing a platform over the sea for sunbathing without sand. At the Playa Sur Hotel you don't even have to leave the lobby to feel sand under your feet as it blows in from the dunes of Playa Machado in which the hotel is set.
When it comes to eating, you'll find some of the best tapas bars in the south of Tenerife along El Médano's Paseo Marcial García including El Timón and Playa Chica. Lining the long wooden board walk which backs the beaches are endless places to sit on a sunny terrace with a chilled beer, a pizza, burger or a sandwich and watch the rainbow sails on the water. Foodies won't go wanting with Japanese, traditional Canarian, Mexican and Italian menus to choose from.
If the labels you're looking for are designed to look good wet, you won't feel shopping deprived in El Médano with everything the surfer could possibly want, available to rent or buy. A good sized supermarket and lots of local shops cater to just about everything else but if you want the kind of designer labels that have to be dry cleaned, you'll have to head to Playa de Las Américas.
If there's one thing El Medano is famed for more than anything, it's windsurfing. Watch this fantastic video from Inside PKRA Tenerife by Tom Hebert.