With warm winter temperatures in the region of 20-25 degrees, and a permanently dry temperate in the South of the small island, it is no wonder that easy-to-get-to Tenerife is a popular destination with Brits and other Europeans for a winter break. The country has been in the news recently for reasons linked to the coronavirus outbreak, but before all that kicked off, my husband and I spent a lovely week exploring the island in order to get some respite from the daily grind.
We visited Gran Canaria last winter and enjoyed getting off the beaten track and seeing what views and scenery we could take in why we were there. Tenerife, in easy seeing distance, is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, closer to Africa than it is to Spain. It’s dominated by Mount Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain’s tallest peak. The island is probably best known here in the UK as being full of long term tourists, and stag and hen parties, who head to the resort areas of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas. But, as I wrote about Gran Canaria when we returned from there, it has a lot more going for it than cheap English breakfasts and too much alcohol.
As regular readers of Splodz Blogz will know, I do like a sea view. I will go out of my way to check the sea is still there. And so the fact we were on a little island where you can see the sea from almost everywhere was a real treat. We hired a car to make getting around very easy, stayed in a lovely small and mostly residential town in the south, and spent our days making our way to see the sea from all the angles. In the spirit of encouraging you to step away from the main resorts and explore the island a little, here I offer up a few of my favourite places to see the sea in Tenerife.
Sea Views in Tenerife
La Tejita and El Medano
I’ll start with the views that we were closest to during our time in Tenerife, and they were some of my favourite – partly because they were so accessible, and partly because this part of Tenerife is designated a nature reserve for a very good reason. The area I’m talking about is a long stretch of coastline about three or four miles long, with a number of bays and coves with different types of beach. There are tomato green houses at one end, sprawling areas of scrubland, the nature reserve including an ancient salt flat, and a nice harbour at the other.
La Tejita is a new-ish town which is still being built. At the moment it’s mainly residential homes with a few rentals, and this isn’t a resort by any means. We stayed in a rented home for the week which worked out very well for us (I wrote about it in my weekly blog). There is a reasonably secluded cove flanked by rocks which was very popular, a large sprawling bay with sand dunes between it and the road, and a naturist beach at the foot of the red mountain. I would say it’s beautiful from the right angles; there is a lot of building work, a lot of scrub land, but it has massive charm thanks to it’s more rural nature.
El Madano is the next bay along, the other side of Montana Roja. It’s much bigger and definitely more bustling, and probably bordering on resort town although when we visited we only really heard Spanish spoken and there seemed to be mostly residential flats rather than hotels. If you want to surf or go kite boarding, this is the place – there are a number of schools offering lessons and hire, and I’m told the wind here makes it a superb place for the sport. It is much more built up but was a nice place for a drink and some people watching – nowhere near as busy as the resorts on the west of the island.
And if you’ve got the legs for it, the views from the top of Montana Roja itself, the lump of rock sticking out the relatively flat area, are well worth the effort. You actually don’t have to go all the way up to get some lovely views (but there is a trig at the top, so you should, really!). I got up early on our last full day to head up before the sun got too strong, and the views inland and out to see were soft and beautiful in the early morning light. I’ve got a hiking post to share my route and some more photos planned soon, but in the meantime, I’ll just say that the sea does look amazing from up there.
Los Abrigos, San Blas and Golf del Sur
We walked the two-ish miles from La Tejita to Los Abrigos along the coastal path, which skirts around acres of tomato greenhouses and crosses vast scrubland popular with vanlifers before it reaches the cute little fishing town. It’s a rocky and sandy path, not particularly well kept, but very popular, and the only way to see the rocky coastline, little coves, and get an idea of what those tomato houses look like up close. By the time we reached Los Abrigos my sandaled feet were filthy but thankfully the village was worth it…
Los Abrigos itself is a small fishing village with a working harbour and a row of fresh fish restaurants (very fresh!) – this is an example of real Tenerife and we are very glad we went to explore. Our rental house owner told us that this was still a very traditional Canarian seaside village and had some of the best fish restaurants on the island – we sampled just the one, but would definitely add our voice to his.
Just along from there, along what seemed like a very new (and not quite finished) wooden boardwalk, was San Blas and Golf del Sur. These two towns are pretty much one these days, having been built up with some large hotels. San Blas seemed to be mostly aimed at the Brits, with all the shop signs in English and British groceries in the supermarket. But it was quiet and quaint all the same. The main feature of Golf del Sur was the marina which was packed with expensive yachts and sailing boats. You can walk right along the harbour through the working docks, you need to if you’re going to have a ride on the cool looking yellow submarine of Submarine Safaris. We also spotted the famous Jean de la Lune, a Tall Ship with a difficult history that most recently ended a year ago when it sank in the harbour where it was moored as a floating hotel.
Los Cristianos, Playas de las Americas and Costa Adeje
Okay, so I can’t write a blog post about Tenerife and not mention the big resorts, can I? The fact is, they are indeed by the sea, and the sea views from these places are lovely – albeit a bit more built up than some of the other areas I mention. You’ll have to share the view with more people than some of the other areas, and a fair few mobility scooters too, but they are definitely worthy of your time and effort if you want something a bit different. We parked up in Los Cristianos, which is the southernmost of the three seaside towns, and walked from there, through Playa de las America, and into Costa Adeje, before turning around and walking back. It was a long walk, yes, but easy going thanks to the concrete pavements and wooden boardwalks.
In all three areas the streets are lined with shops, cafes and restaurants – you’ll get a full English breakfast with beer for less than a fiver, and happy hours run all day long. If you want to buy trainers, t-shirts or handbags, these are the places to come. I must give a special mention to the churro place we visited, Churreria Marcos, a local joint where you’ll get freshly cooked churros with hot chocolate for a few euro, it’s a little inland but worth the walk, full of locals, and well worth a visit. Back to the seafront and you’ll find sandy beaches, palm trees, a couple of coves great for surfing (the World Surf League was taking place while we were there, although the surf wasn’t brilliant so it was all a bit lacklustre) and plenty of spots to sit, relax and people watch.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tenerife’s capital city sits in the North East of the country, and has a completely different vibe and weather system to the resorts and towns in the south. Here you will find green fields and plenty of trees thanks to the rain. Getting there from the south is easy and quick, we had a car and so we took the motorway, it took just about an hour. Santa Cruz is a port city with well-preserved buildings in its old town include the colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception and Palacio de Carta with its baroque and neoclassical features. The walk along the sea wall is lovely; you have the Palmetum, a large botanical garden with one of the biggest collections of palm trees in the world, the Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique, a saltwater lido (which wasn’t open in February…), Castillo de San Juan Bautista, a fortress also known as the Black Castle which dates back to the 1600s, and the Auditorio de Tenerife, a modern auditorium with a distinctive shape meant to remind you of the sails of a yacht. And that’s all within about half a mile along the seafront.
Carry on down the sea wall and you’ll reach the docks, shipyards, port and marina, and eventually Playa de Las Teresitas, a lovely mile-long sandy beach made with imported yellow sand. The whole walk from the Palmetum to the beach is nearly seven miles, giving you sea views to last days and days.
One of the reasons to visit Santa Cruz is to see some of the history associated with our own Admiral Nelson. The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was an assault by the English Royal Navy on Santa Cruz launched by Nelson on 22 July 1797 (think Spanish Armada but in reverse). Leaving out most of the detail, it’s no spoiler to say that we lost… on 25 July the remains of the landing party withdrew under a truce. It was during this battle that Nelson famously lost his arm, said to be thanks to El Tigre, a cannon that has since been preserved and is on display in what’s left of the Castillo de San Cristobal. You can also see the flag the winning side took from the English Fleet in the Military Museum. Both of these are free to get in, it’s always worth seeing things from the other side’s point of view and I’d recommend both if you are in Santa Cruz.
Sea Views from the Mountains
The benefit of Tenerife being so small and the mountains being so high is that you get sea views from both Anaga and Teide National Parks. And they are stunning.
We took the cable car up Mount Teide and could easily make out our temporary home of La Tejita and the capital city of Santa Cruz from up there. Is there anything more special than a sea view from a snow-capped mountain? I honestly don’t think there is. We didn’t up hike the mountain (you need a permit to hike to the summit and none were available by the time we booked our trip), but the cable car is an excellent option, and there is a short trail you can walk to make it feel like you are walking on a mountain even if you’re not on an expedition. We had clear skies on the day we went, which made it even more wonderful.
Anaga National Park, right in the North West, is a very different beast – tall trees lined the hillside and the smell of rain filled the air. It was very busy and the small number of carparks were packed with others also wanting to take in the view, but we did manage to find a spot at Pico del Inglés from where we had amazing views of both the sea and Mount Teide. If we return to Tenerife we will certainly pay a second visit to Anaga, which reminded us in some ways of Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks in California, for some exploring on foot away from the roads.
I would absolutely urge anyone visiting Tenerife to get themselves away from the seaside resorts and to one or both of these beautiful parks. We had a car and so it was easy for us to get ourselves there, but we saw tour buses and there is also public transport available. Well worth getting yourself as high as you can when it comes to getting a decent sea view!
Have you visited Tenerife? What are your favourite sea views on this lovely little Spanish island?
We live in a time when we are not as free to travel as we were a couple of months ago. I hope that for those who have been to Tenerife, this post brings back picture memories of sea views to the front of your mind, and for those who haven’t, provides some inspiration for views you might want to see in the future. Don’t let the wanderlust wain because of what is going on – the beaches and ocean will still be there when all this is over. Take care, all x