Taking a winter sun holiday on the island of Tenerife seems like it has been the thing to do for as many years as we can remember. In fact, we don’t think it has lost any of its appeal and is as popular as it has always been. In this travel blog article we take another look at Tenerife and what the island has to offer as a tourist destination.
The largest of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife sits in the Atlantic Ocean, what seems like a mere stone’s throw away from neighbouring Africa. The volcanic island is one of clearly divided contrasts, both in terms of weather and landscape. The southern part of the island is hot and dry, while the north is humid and lush with pine forests and banana plantations. Known as the Island of Eternal Spring – where trade winds bring in mild weather even in winter – snow-capped mountains even provide a backdrop to the sunny beaches in the winter months.
The island’s population of 852,945 is boosted by around 3.5 million tourist every year and that’s excluding numbers for Spanish tourists who make up a huge number of total arrivals to the island’s airports. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the second biggest city in the archipelago and the island’s capital.
The south is more tourist-based being hotter and drier with well-developed party resorts such as Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. These seaside resorts offer attractions by the bucketful including restaurants, aqua parks and animal parks so are perfectly suited to family holidays. Interestingly, the spread of development has been slowed with an act passed by the Canarian government stating that no more hotels should be built on the island unless they are of five star quality!
In the north, the old-harbour town of Puerto de la Cruz has retained its unique charm. Loro Parque, easily reached by bus from the city centre offers families and big kids a fantastic walk on the wild side and a sample of colourful flora and fauna native to the island. The attraction originally started with parrots (and what a lot there are too!) but now visitors can get face to face with sea lions and dolphins as well as a vast array of different animals. The grounds of the park are filled with beautiful plants unique to the island, while vast ponds are filled with brightly-coloured fish. A camera is a must, there’s so much to snap away at.
Amazingly, the highest point of Spain is on Tenerife. A trip to Mount Teide at 3,717 metres high is well worth it, as is the cable car ride to its rocky peak. Surrounded by the bumpy terrain of Teide National Park, land around the mountain was used as a location for the original Planet of the Apes movie.
Don’t let the simplicity of Canarian cooking make you think your meal will be bland – boiled fish dishes or sancochado are seasoned with oil and vinegar and hot peppers, while green or red mojo is a must for any table. Fresh fish including snapper, sardines and mackerel appear on the menus in local restaurants without fail on a daily basis. Fried moray eel, apparently a delicacy among Roman emperors, is also a must-eat.
Carne de fiesta consisting of chunks of seasoned pork is often served during village festivals, while goat’s meat and rabbit are also traditional dishes. All of the above is often served with papas arrugadas, delicious potatoes boiled in salty water with their skins left on.