Planning a trip to the Island of Eternal Sunshine? Break away from the crowds at Playa de las Americas and explore the island’s sleepy towns, get lost in its ancient mountain ranges, eat like a local and learn about Tenerife’s rich history.
The six step-pyramids of Güímar have many similarities to those in South America. They were brought into the public eye in the 1990s and the site is now also home to the Casa Chacona museum with great exhibits of pre-Colombian engravings, reed boats and Thor Heyerdahl’s theories on the ancient civilisations.
Situated in the south of the island, Castillo San Miguel is a 6,000 square metre castle made of Canarian stone. Drink wine (or soft drinks) from a silver goblet, eat a whole chicken with your hands and watch the knights on horseback battle to the death. It is quite an unforgettable experience!
Skip the tourist-filled beaches of the south and head to the town of Puerta de la Cruz on the west of the island. Wander through Plaza del Charco and into the fishing port to a real Canarian ‘chiringuito’. Try the traditional ‘papas arrugadas con mojo’ (small potatoes boiled in their jackets with Mojo sauce) and the ‘salmorejo de atún’ (marinated tuna with garlic and spices – not to be confused with Spanish ‘salmorejo’).
The nearby island of La Gomera can be reached by ferry in less than an hour. La Gomera is the second smallest of the Canary Island and is a nature-lover’s paradise. The peak of the island, Garajonay, is 1,484 metres (4,869 feet) high and is home to one of the world’s last remaining laurel forests. Enjoy amazing views of Mount Teide while having lunch overlooking the ocean and listening to the traditional Gomeran whistle. As the locals say “Tenerife has Teide, but we are the ones who enjoy it!”.
The waters off the coast of south Tenerife are excellent for whale-watching. A pod of short-finned pilot whales has chosen the waters off the coast of Los Gigantes as a permanent home, as has a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. In total there are 27 different cetacean species that either reside in or temporarily use these waters. The cliffs of Los Gigantes are also very impressive and are best enjoyed from the sea. For the more adventurous, the Masca Trail leads hikers through the Teno Mountains to the bay at Barranco de Masca, where they can be collected by boat.
Located in Parque de las Cañadas, Teide’s crater has a lunar landscape that becomes more breathtaking the higher you climb. At the top of the cable car you can walk to one of the viewpoints or, if you have a special permit (which can be purchased online) you can hike to the summit. You can also enjoy another, less explored, side of Mount Teide by hiking the many trails that run through its foothills.
Spend a day in the island’s capital and explore the historic quarter. Visit the auditorium, one of Tenerife’s most emblematic buildings, wander along the main street of Las Ramblas and take a break in Plaza de España. Have lunch at Bodeguita Canaria for another chance to enjoy delicious Canarian cuisine.
Not for the faint-hearted, the road that leads through the 1,000 metre high mountain range to the ‘lost village of Masca’ offers spectacular views as it winds its way towards the valley in a series of hairpin bends. The tiny village is situated within the Teno Rural Park and has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest categorised as a Historical Artistic Quarter. Situated approximately 650 metres above sea level with only around 100 inhabitants, Masca was, until recently, virtually unknown.
Playa de San Marcos is situated on a cove by a small fishing village. The beautiful black-sand beach is fringed by rocks and surrounded by cliffs, which protect the bay. The unassuming restaurant Italia in Bocca overlooks the beach and offers specials of freshly caught fish. It is also a great place to watch the sunset and you may even see the fishermen bringing in their catch.
El Médano is the largest natural beach on Tenerife and is also one of the world’s best kite-surf locations. Also on the East Coast in Punta de Abona, a popular fishing spot for the locals, where volcanic rocks form small rock pools.