Active Guide to Tenerife

I’ve just come back from holiday in Tenerife and the island really took me by surprise. I always forget just how far south the Canary Islands are: despite being an autonomous community of Spain, they are located further south than Marrakesh. Tenerife is the largest island, best characterised by the dominating sight of Mount Teide, the world’s third tallest volcano. It has a bit of a reputation for being a beach destination for Brits, but there is so much more to do. For more travel posts, see here.

Reach the heights of Mt. Teide

The views from close to the summit of the volcano Teide are beyond comparison. As you climb up the mountainside, the clouds fall away -being so high up, you are almost guaranteed sunshine from above the clouds, which look like a sea from above. Much of the Teide National Park landscape has been featured in film, thanks to it’s other-worldly views, rusty coloured soil and impressive rock formations. For a really impressive trip, go up the mountain in time for sunset, and then visit the observatory. Tenerife boasts exceptionally clear skies, especially in the heights of Mt. Teide. 

Go dolphin and whale watching

Thanks to their location, the Canary Islands are home to over twenty species of cetaceans, with bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales being the most common resident species. Going on a whale watching trip is the best way to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat. If you’re really lucky, you might even glimpse a passing sperm whale. Do your research and go with a responsible operator. They shouldn’t chase down and come too close to marine mammals. And whilst swimming with dolphins may seem magical, it can be obtrusive to the animals, so be wary of anywhere that advertises it. And if you do find yourself in the water with any marine wildlife, don’t approach the animals, especially not head on: let them come for you. We were with a brilliant operator, who went out of their way to scoop up any marine plastic floating nearby. They also monitored all turtles that we passed to make sure that they could dive -being caught at the surface is a sign of plastic ingestion. Turtles with likely plastic ingestion were taken to a marine wildlife specialist vet. 

NOTE: one of Tenerife’s most famous attractions is Loro Parque. This zoo has some nine captive dolphins, which are made to undergo shows. Please don’t endorse this cruelty by giving Loro Parque your money or attendance. Cetaceans should not be kept in captivity; so please watch them in their environment.

Explore Masca and Garachico

Hire a car and explore some of the gems in the north west of the island. Masca is a hidden village located at the foot of the Tent mountains. To get to it you have to wind your way over and down the mountainside on a precariously winding road. The village is very picturesque, and if you have time you can hike three hours down to the sea and even get a ferry back around the island. If you just have an hour, then enjoy the village views and try some Canarian treats. Barraquito is a coffee made with condensed milk, espresso and vanilla liqueur popular on the islands. For sweets, there are fig cakes and pastries filled with sweet potatoes and palm honey. Fun fact: palm honey isn’t actually honey in the sense that it is made by bees, but is directly made from the sap of palm trees. 

Garachico is located along one of the most unspoilt parts of the coastline. In the 1700’s, the island was struck by lava flows from a volcanic eruption. This makes for a large part of the town’s character: where the lava meets the sea are now sea pools. With changing rooms and steps, these pools have been made into an ideal place to swim in the pristine waters. The town itself is also picturesque, so give yourself time to wander around. 

Try a vegan restaurant

The Canary Islands aren’t known for being vegan-friendly, but there are some really great restaurants tucked away. Most meat and dairy has to be imported to the island, so trying vegan food, perhaps alongside fresh local seafood if you eat that, could be a good way to eat more locally. We went to Beunavida in Costa Adeje and had some of our best food of the trip. 

Have you ever been to Tenerife? Dolphin and whale watching photos taken by Bonadea II Catamaran.

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