Tenerife doesn’t quite feel like Spain. It’s far from the mainland and the Canarian accent sounds much more like South American than European Spanish. Tenerife is different. It is the island of the eternal spring. It never gets too hot or too cold. (Which makes Tenerife a popular destination for North European pensioners.)
South Tenerife is the sunniest area and a tourist stronghold. La Playa de las Amércias is a built-from-scratch resort area with man-made beaches. Tenerife is a volcanic island and its natural beaches are black and rocky. Not so attractive for all-inclusive tourists. Therefore, sand was imported from Africa to make the shoreline more pleasant-looking to foreigners’ eyes. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying resort travel. If you’re into that kind of thing, South Tenerife is your place.
The chillier and often windy climate doesn’t make North Tenerife too attractive, at first sight. However, it is the most beautiful part of the island. The Anaga Mountains are lush and have an almost tropical feel to them. Winding narrow streets cut through the forest and give way to the most stunning scenery. Hire a car and enjoy the ride.
There are two little towns you can’t miss on your visit: Garachico is a lovely little village by the sea and its lava rock pools are an unusual spot to have a swim. Masca, on the other hand, is a village high up in the mountains with breathtaking views over the Masca Valley. Both spots are rather touristy but too pretty to miss out.
Talking of breathtaking: Of course, there is no way around the superstar of Tenerife: Mount Teide is not only Spain’s highest mountain but also a dormant volcano. Its huge crater takes up the bulk of the island. The site is great for hiking. (It has been declared national park and Unesco World Heritage site!) However, the scenery in the Anaga mountains might be slightly more interesting. There’s just not so much that actually grows on a 3700m high volcano. One must-do thing is to take the cable car to the summit, which offers mesmerising out-of-this-world views over Tenerife. Highly recommended.
In Spain, the Canary Islands are known for one main thing: “plátanos canarios”, Canarian bananas. What’s so special about them? They are supposed to be particularly sweet and tasty. You can’t go to Tenerife and not try the bananas there. It’s a thing. Another typical dish worth trying is “papas arrugadas”, wrinkled potatoes. These are small potatoes boiled in very salty water. You eat them with the peel and with red or green salsa. They are often served as “tapas”, small sized appetisers, which is a great way to give them a try if you’re not sure about the whole salty/eat-with-the-peel thing.
Sure, the weather is great all year round, but if you can pick a time, pick February. Pick carnival! Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital, is a pretty little city worth visiting by itself. However, it becomes especially interesting during Carnival season. Again, South American vibes! Think Brazilian carnival, gorgeous costumes and much fiesta!