On the Atlantic side of Spain sits an archipelago of stunning islands collectively known as the Canary Islands. Though owned by Spain, the islands sit closer to Morocco than the mainland and offers strong equatorial sunshine that lasts year-round. Its ideal weather, lush greenery, far reaching mountains, and gorgeous beaches are all reasons why travelers continue to flock to its shores.
The largest of the seven main islands, Tenerife, owes its contours and cliff sides to the volcanic activities of Mount Teide. Still a natural wonder today, the 12,198 ft. snow-capped volcano is protected by a national park and is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites on the island. The other being San Cristóbal de La Laguna, or more commonly known as “La Laguna”, the island’s former capital and one of the most picturesque towns for its brightly painted buildings lining narrow historic streets.
Tenerife’s beaches are magnetic, with hues that reflect the rich earth that surrounds it, and its pristine qualities. Nearly 7 miles of Tenerife’s beaches have been awarded a prestigious Blue Flag designation, certifying quality, cleanliness, and security. The other big attraction to the island: Golf. Golfers traveling to Tenerife are like kids in a candy store with a variety of courses, views, challenges, and ambiance.
In Tenerife, the nightlife is seemingly never-ending with a constant flow of vibrant energies from sundown to sunup pulsing through the various pubs and nightclubs on the island. Second only to Brazil’s Carnival, the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival held in February tempts more and more travelers annually. Droves of tourists and locals alike flood the streets of Santa Cruz decked out in fancy dresses dancing well into the night while street performers, bands, and singers festively compete. The celebration lasts for days, culminating with the crowning of a Carnival queen. To say this island has a lot to offer doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The tastes of the Canary Islands
An unforgettable experience awaits in the traditions of the Canarian gastronomy. On the island, seafood is understandably a staple in many recipes. The dishes are notably simple and fresh by design, which highlights basic ingredients and brings a newfound love of their subtleties. Gofio (toasted grains mostly consisting of wheat or maize) is the flour-like base included in many Tenerife dishes, most commonly seen as gofio escaldo (a thick porridge usually served with red onion slices). Accompanying almost any dish, whether it’s papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) or cerdo (pork), is some version of mojo or marinade that adds a burst of flavor For dessert, a local favorite of ground almonds, egg yolk, sugar, lemon rind, and cinnamon served with cream called bienmesabe which means “tastes good to me”— is also worth a try to see if it’s aptly named or not.
The sights of Tenerife
Known to some as the “Island of Eternal Spring” for its warmth and rich natural landscapes, Tenerife offers endless to-dos year-round. Costa Adeje, in the south of the island, undoubtedly attracts the most visitors to the island because of its stunning sandy beaches. Snorkeling, diving, sailing, surfing—beachgoers are treated to a little bit of everything. From sea level to Spain’s highest point, the second most visited site on the island is Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a 12,000+ ft. dormant volcano. Mount Teide, the third largest volcano on earth, may be dormant but its 12-million-year old craftsmanship in shaping the entire island still amazes travelers to this day. The volcano draws hikers seeking a challenge and nature enthusiasts are enthralled by the surrounding exotic gardens, lava caves, and calderas. The magnitude of its volcanic activity are best seen at Caldera del Rey, a 440-acre depression in the earth left by erupting magma, and the 10-mile long Cueva del Viento (Wind Cave). The underground cave was formed from flowing lava and is the largest lava tube in Europe. On the edges of the island natural pools have formed, crystal clear waters sheltered from crashing waves by rock formations created from ancient lava flows.
In the north, Anaga Nature Park takes visitors back to see the island in its purest form, post eruptions, when natives settled the land. The protected land preserves much of the exotic flora native to the area and features a handful of archeological sites. Fast-forward a couple hundred years and visit the 14th-century Spanish colonial town of La Laguna (the lake), the island’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the 16th-century town of La Orotava, a historical treasure filled with cafes and local shops. Finally, step into the 21st century in Santa Cruz, the island’s capital and largest city, where modernity meets grandeur.
It may be hard to venture beyond the idyllic beaches, but those that do are rewarded with a journey through time. Even the skies above Tenerife are one of a kind, its exceptional atmospheric clarity make it absolutely perfect for stargazing.
The luxuries of Tenerife
In the south, alluring sandy beaches draw crowds to Costa Adeje. While in the north, beautifully painted historic towns set against mountainous landscapes offer travelers a different side of this intriguingly multifaceted island. Whether travelers want beachfront views or a quiet urban retreat, they have their pick of three Iberostar Grand Collection locations. Grand Hotel Salome delivers an all-inclusive experience and the Grand Hotel El Mirador offers 5-star luxury with direct access to the idyllic Duque beach down south. Santa Cruz, once named in the top five best places to live by The Guardian, hosts the Grand Hotel Mencey—a treat for guests in the island’s capital.
The best time to go
The island’s average yearly temperatures are never too hot and never too cold—ranging between 63° F and 77° F—but always just right. Very few destinations can boast such ideal weather, with only a handful of days seeing rain.