Tenerife Regional Info (App Version)
Ever since the days when a sombre-faced doctor pronounced, "What you need young lady is a dose of sunshine," and sent a fair damsel packing, Tenerife has exploded onto the worldwide tourism scene as one of the most popular resort islands on the planet.
Over the past decade, the land the media liked to call 'Tene-grief' has undergone major surgery. Nowadays, this island of eternal sunshine is better known as a chic destination of world-class beaches, luxurious hotels, fab restaurants, unbeatable nightlife, gob-smacking scenery and year-round golf.. The new Tenerife has the lot, and we showcase it right here...
Admiral Nelson lost his arm in Santa Cruz
While many of us may be careless enough to lose our sunglasses while we're on holiday, Horatio Nelson arrived in Santa Cruz in 1797 with two arms and left needing lessons in writing with his left hand. Thankfully, the majority of visitors don't face the canon fire of Tenerife's army but then, they don't usually try to invade the island either. Err, then again...
There are ancient pyramids... and mummies
It isn't just winter sun that Tenerife has in common with Egypt, the original inhabitants of our island were also sun worshippers, mummified their dead and constructed pyramids. While Güímar's pyramids may not be as impressive as Giza's, the Guanche mummies in the Museum of Man and Nature are as delightfully macabre as any Hammer House of Horrors creation.
It snows in winter
While hundreds of thousands of northern Europeans escape the winter weather of their homelands to lie on the sun kissed beaches of Tenerife, the locals here look forward to their winter snow. Between December and March, Mount Teide regularly gets snowfall and as soon as it's deep enough to play in, residents flock to frolic.
It's one of the best places on the planet to see whales and dolphins
The warm waters between Tenerife and La Gomera are rich in microscopic marine life suppling a prime all-you-can-eat buffet for dolphins and whales on their migratory routes. With pods of bottle-nosed dolphins permanently living off the island's south west coast and sperm and minke whales making regular appearances, there are few better places to see these incredible creatures in their natural environment.
It hosts one of the world's largest carnivals
Allegedly second in size only to Rio on the world stage, the Santa Cruz carnival allegedly held the Guinness Book of Records entry for the largest carnival ball which was set in 1987 when Celia Cruz took to the stage and 240,000 people took to the dance floor. The fact that it was in the official records book means that someone must have counted while everyone else was partying – was there an entry for the worst job in the world that year?
Within Tenerife’s 795-square-mile footprint (roughly the size of the Lake District) you’ll find no less than 12 micro-climates in a variety of regions. In winter snow blocks the high roads while sun worshippers stretch out on the sand less than an hour’s drive away. And while the near jungle-like canopy of the Mercedes Mountains is cloaked in moss and lichen, at the centre of the island black rivers of petrified lava twist and course through the lifeless desert of Las Cañadas.
Main resorts, and mighty fine towns & villages
Built on former banana plantations, which are still much in evidence nearby, the main resorts in the south of Tenerife are Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje.
Close to the big three named above, you’ll find a number of charismatic towns and villages such as the windsurfer’s paradise of El Medano with its long swathe of golden sand, and Los Abrigos, a picture postcard fishing harbour where boats pass their daily catch ‘directly’ to the quayside fish restaurants.
The year round climate makes for excellent golf weather which is where the popular resorts of Golf del Sur and Amarilla Golf come into ‘play’. Purpose built around world class golf courses, these are very much self-contained towns complete with restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
Around the coast, Los Gigantes is the west coast tourist haven. Nestling in the shadow of ‘the giants’ cliffs – a must see – this resort is also the stepping off point to the village of Masca. Perched on mountainous ridges, the phrase ‘dramatic scenery’ does not do this area justice.
In the north, Puerto de la Cruz holds the bragging rights as the main resort. In fact, this was the original resort area of Tenerife. Developed from the main commercial harbour of yesteryear, its historical links can be seen in the cannons guarding the harbour against invaders long since repelled.
More history can be found in Garachico, not so much a resort, more of an ‘archetypal’ Canarian town with colonial style mansions surrounded by narrow streets but one that received the ‘tail end’ of a lava flow when Teide last erupted in 1909 just to add to the mix.
Mountains and National Parks
The third largest volcano in the world Mount Teide (it’s just resting!) dominates the island and divides Tenerife into north and south. Snow-capped during the winter, as you descend the mountain the climatic layer cake flavours the landscape in many different tones. From the rocky moonscape near the summit to the vineyards of La Orotava valley; from the lush green Anaga Mountains in the northeast to the coastal plains of Buenavista in the northwest and coastal resorts of the south, the variety is stunning!
It would be very remiss of us if we didn’t mention the capital. The bustling, cosmopolitan city of Santa Cruz is home to one of the biggest carnivals in the world and a calling port for cruise ships.