Holidays in Tenerife often centre on the beach, but dig a bit deeper and you’ll find national parks, museums galore and the island’s most bankable asset – top weather.
Nature-filled north, sand-lined south
Not content with just being the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife arguably has the most going on, too. It can offer a totally different experience depending on which part of the island you choose as the base for your All Inclusive holiday to Tenerife. Stay in the north and you can get up close and personal with nature – lose yourself in banana plantations, pine forests and vineyards. Head down south, meanwhile, and you’ll be in the land of sun, sea and sand – it’s holiday central.
Beside the seaside
Tenerife is best known for its beach-lined resorts. Take Playa de las Americas, for example. Each year, people flock here to secure their spot on its cream-coloured beach. But there’s more to this tourist town than that. It also covers off an 18-hole golf course, stylish shopping centres, and hoards of restaurants. Not to mention a lively strip of bars and clubs that’s earned it the rep of the party capital of the island. Neighbouring Los Cristianos doesn’t pack as much of a punch on the party front, but it makes up for it with sleek shopping malls, al fresco eateries and bustling open-air markets.
Tranquilo in Tenerife
If you’re after some real R&R on your holiday to Tenerife, head down to the southwest coast. Here, tradition reigns and everything is ‘tranquilo’ – AKA calm and quiet. Playa de la Arena is one of our favourites – the stretches of sand are spotless, and the tapas is second to none. Then you’ve got Playa Paraiso, which has a petite patch of sand and its own saltwater lido. And if you follow the coast further south, you’ll reach Costa Adeje. Backdropped by Mount Teide, this laidback place is a happy medium – quiet enough to chill out, but next door to the party town of Playa de las Americas, if you fancy dancing ‘til dawn.
Things to See and Do in Tenerife
Tenerife is the biggest of the Canaries, and it certainly makes the most of its coastline, serving up hundreds of kilometres of sand. If you’re after the volcanic black-sand beauties that the island is famous for, then head to places like Playa de la Arena and Puerto de la Cruz. Over in Los Cristianos and Playa de la Americas, the sand is more your classic colour. They’re man-made, with golden grains imported from the Sahara.
The big beach
The standout stretch here is Playa de Troya. It’s the largest of the beaches in Playa de las Americas and comes loaded with beach games, and a watersports line up to rival the best of them. The water is calm here, too, so it’s ideal for families with little ones that want to swim. You’re sorted when it comes to food – the promenade is packed with bars and restaurants. And if you’re looking for a beach club, then you’ll have the choice of two – there’s one at either end, and they both host parties during the summer months.
The secret beach
If you like having the sands to yourself, head to La Tejita. It lounges at the bottom of Montano Roja and is Tenerife’s longest natural beach. Despite holding claim to that impressive accolade, it’s still quiet – even on a summer weekend, as not many people know about it. More often than not there’s plenty of space to throw down a towel for the day, and there’s even a little beach bar that’ll keep you topped up with drinks. You’ll find it a 20-minute drive from Los Cristianos.
Designer devotees will be in their element in Tenerife’s most exclusive shopping centre – Costa Adeje’s Plaza del Duche. After a spree there, you can go home armed with glossy shopping bags full of clothes, handbags and shoes from the likes of Givenchy, Prada and Celine. Plus, it’s home to the only Cartier shop in the Canaries. In Playa de las Americas, meanwhile, the fashion forward gather at the Safari Centre, where top brands have set up camp.
Pearls are a big deal on this island, so it’s a great place to treat yourself to a pretty piece of jewellery, without tugging too hard on your purse strings. If you’re near Costa Adeje, pop in to Tenerife Pearl, in Armenime. You’re free to ogle the trinkets in their massive showroom at your own pace, but guided tours around the design studio are on offer, too. The accompanying talk will give you an insight into how pearls are created, and the different types available. While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to pick your own oyster – you’ll get to crack it open and keep the gem that’s found inside.
Bargain hunting is a doddle in Tenerife, as the whole island is tax free, so pretty much everything is cheaper than at home. The supermarkets should be your first port of call if you fancy stocking up on local wine and spirits. But if edible souvenirs are more your forté, then make your way to an open-air market. They happen all across the island and you can pick up treats like Arico goats’ cheese, mojo sauces and honey.
While Tenerife isn’t famous for low-key evenings, there’s definitely a decent does of options. The Costa Adeje district offers up oceanfront restaurants and pubs with live music. San Eugenio, on the other hand, goes for a more traditional vibe, with Spanish guitar music taking centre stage in its cocktail and wine bars. For something a little different, check if there’s anything going on at the Estadio Heliodoro Rodríguez López. This stadium in Santa Cruz has hosted the likes of Adele and Akon, so time it right and you could be bobbing along to a chart-topper.
There ain’t no party like a Playa de las Americas party. The island’s clubbing capital is the place to be if you’re looking for a big night out. Once you’re there, totter along to Starco, or the Patch, and you’ll be met with a string of clubs and bars. They all keep the drinks and the music flowing until the early hours. There are lots of deals on drinks, too, so you won’t have to break the bank. If that’s not your style, then head up to Santa Cruz, where nights out get a bit of a Spanish twist. Al fresco bars take over the town and salsa dancers from the clubs spill out onto the streets.
Locals make good use of the heaps of fresh seafood they have at their fingertips. One of the most popular dishes is sancocho canario – a fish stew that’s often served on Good Friday. For this, a big chunk of salty fish, like seabass or halibut, is boiled with sweet potatoes and served up with a spicy mojo sauce.
The name of this simple Canarian dessert translates to ‘it tastes good to me’, and it’s about as sweet as they come. Toasted ground almonds are mixed with a blend of sugar, whole milk and egg yolks, along with a generous glug of sweet sherry. The dessert is then cooled before being doused in cinnamon and served up with a dollop of ice-cream. Dessert fans, form an orderly queue.
Escaldón de gofio
It doesn’t get much more Canarian than this dish. It was first cooked up thousands of years ago by the Guanche tribespeople – the island’s original inhabitants. They prepared pots of gofio – a creamy mix of ground, toasted sweetcorn, cooked in fish-based stock and served with wedges of tongue-tinglingly-strong escaldón onions.
Pimientos de Padrón
Eating these little green peppers is like a game of Russian roulette. Padrón peppers are normally pretty mild, but every so often, you’ll bite into one that’ll set your tastebuds on fire. It’s obviously worth the risk though, as this simple but tasty dish has made its way onto tapas menus across the island.
Dessert wine, step aside. The Canary Islands have a new contender for your after-dinner tipple, and it’s lip-smackingly good. Ron Miel is a combination of rum and local honey. Leave out the ice – you won’t want to water down the flavour of this digestif.
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In resort terms, Costa Adeje is a relative newbie but it’s already a bit of an ‘It’-destination on Tenerife’s south coast. All Inclusive holidays to Costa Adeje are all pristine beaches, smart eateries and first-class boutiques. Plus, you’ve got party-hard Playa de las Palmas next door, and one of the world’s biggest waterparks down the road.
Playa de la Arena
Resort-wise, Playa de la Arena is a bit of a quiet customer on the west coast of Tenerife. It doesn’t party hard like full-throttle Playa de Las Americas, 30 kilometres away – and, frankly, that’s the appeal. You get all the bars and restaurants you need without the non-stop pace. And with its craggy coastline and mountain views, the place looks pretty good, too.
Playa de las Americas
Set on Tenerife’s southwest coast, Playa de las Americas is the party capital of the island. Year-round sun and full-on nightlife pull in the Brit crowd, and the duty-free shops and golden beaches don’t do any harm either. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s the classy resort of Los Cristianos just next door, plus windsurfing capital El Medano a 15-minute drive away.