The west coast
Puerto de Santiago is a former fishing village-turned-family resort, sandwiched between the busier Los Gigantes and Playa de la Arena. Behind it are brooding 500-metre-high dark cliffs. In front is a bijou beach of black volcanic sand. And across the bay you’ll spy the lost-in-time island of La Gomera. It's a pretty quiet spot, although in the summer locals ramp things up a bit with a handful of al fresco fiestas.
From beach to mountain
Puerto de Santiago’s beach is small but perfectly formed. But if you’re after a little more space, Playa la Arena is on your doorstep – it’s a 2-minute walk away. Or head to the Teno mountains and the sweet mountain village of Masca. Lovely walking trails through lizard and cacti country fan out from its village square, where the tiny, stone houses have hardly been touched by time.
On the water
For all things water-based, Los Gigantes, 5 minutes’ walk away, is where you want to be. It’s the launch pad for boat trips to see dolphins zipping through the water and the telltale sign of a pilot whale’s fin. Expect to pay around 20 euros for a two-hour trip. Los Gigantes is one of the top dive sites on the island, too.
Best foot forward
A path follows the curve of the coast all the way up Tenerife’s west shoulder. Start at Playa San Juan and it’ll take you past gnarled rocky outcrops, banana plantations and people picnicing in secluded spots. You can bet on a stroll of about 3 hours to get back to base, but you can dip in and out and rest weary legs thanks to the frequent bus that runs parallel to the path.