As a visitor to the largest of the Canary Islands you will be inundated with choices of things to do and see while you are here. For an island that is small enough to drive around in less than 3 hours, there is a surprising amount of variation and there really is something to suit absolutely everybody.
Tenerife is a sub-tropical climate and within its small circumference you can find tropical beaches, bountiful banana plantations, rugged coastline, lush green farmland terraces, rocky mountains, volcanic landscapes and barren wilderness.
Here’s a rundown of my favourite trips. By the way, shopping is not included in this list—you can do that at home!
For the Family
There are numerous day trips that you can take the kids to, such as the Thailand-inspired waterpark Siam Park, whale watching boat rides and the Submarine Safari, but my favourite is Loro Parque, an animal sanctuary in the north of the island.
The Loro Parque Fundacion is dedicated to emphasising the need for conservation of nature and the environment, carrying out numerous projects in countries all around the world. Initially a Parrot Park (‘Loro’ means parrot in Spanish), the park is still active in protecting the most endangered species of parrots, both in captivity and the wild. Loro Parque has now extended beyond parrots and has an array of fantastic animals including white tigers, jaguars, dolphins, sea-lions, a large shark tunnel and also the largest population of penguins in the world, outside of wild habitats of course!
Since 2006, visitors to the park have been able to watch the Orca show, after SeaWorld in Florida donated 4 orcas to Loro Parque. In 2010 a baby orca was born at Loro Parque and raised by the trainers after his mother rejected him.
Loro Parque is a great place to introduce children to animals that are rare to see in the wild, and to increase awareness of our beautiful Animal Kingdom.
An Educational Trip
Did you know that a banana plant is a herb, not a tree? Or that bananas grow upside-down (unless we eat them upside down)?
If you look out over the island, you will see the large distinctive banana leaves everywhere, the richer plantations covered in a plastic tent to protect from insects.
Tenerife has many banana plantations but they are not native to the island, in fact bananas were introduced to Tenerife in the late Nineteenth Century as cash crops. The heat of Tenerife is perfect for cultivating bananas but as water is scarce in the barren south of the island, expensive water systems are in place.
To get a free visit to a banana plantation you can sign up with a ‘Blanket Tour’ such as PAL, who will collect you on a coach from a number of hotels in the southern resorts of Los Cristianos, Las Americas and Costa Adeje. After a presentation regarding their Pure Authentic Lambswool (PAL) Sleep Therapy products, you will be shown around the plantation with a knowledgeable guide who will explain the life of a banana plant before showing you inside the small processing factory. You will also make a short lunch stop at a local artisan shop where you can buy souvenirs and try out local jams and Canarian mojo sauces.
It is an interesting trip, and there is no pressure to buy the products, although the presentation part takes up most of the morning and the actual trip is quite short, but as it is a free trip then this is not much to complain about really.
For those who love the Great Outdoors
Tenerife has so much natural beauty with Mt. Teide, the 3718m dormant volcano, standing regally at the centre of it all. The barren, rocky lava flows of the Teide National Park have been used as the backdrop for many movies, from 1000 Years BC to Clash of the Titans.
By day, visitors can ascend by cable car to take in breathtaking views over the clouds, and by night visit the observatory with an experienced astrologer as a guide. For the more active, Teide can be ascended by foot but a permit is required to scale the last 200m to the summit. This permit is available online or from the office in Santa Cruz. At 3718 metres above sea level, there is a very real chance of altitude sickness so any visitor to the area should be aware of the symptoms and take precautions, leaving the area immediately if necessary.
A drive around the island will also reveal beautiful winding roads, such as the road to Masca where visitors will be treated to spectacular views reminiscent of the Peruvian Andes. The saying about Masca goes: ‘you can see the sea from Masca, but you can’t see Masca from the sea’, which made it a popular place for pirates to smuggle their contraband, and plenty of legends exist around this picturesque village. While you are in this area make sure you stop to enjoy a lunch of Papas Arrugadas (Canarian potatoes) with a local mojo sauce—a heavenly blend of salt and spice!
This is just a few of my favourite locations in Tenerife and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you been to Tenerife? What did you visit when you were here? If you haven’t been to Tenerife, did you realise that it was more than beaches and bars? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed reading then please share!