What are the first images that come to mind when you hear ‘Tenerife’? Sandy beaches, luxury resorts and seaside promenades? Combined with year-round sunshine, it’s plenty to make Tenerife a more than desirable holiday destination.
However, there’s so much more to do when you go beyond the beaches of the largest island in the Canaries. Sovereign’s Marketing Executive, Nikki, was lucky enough to experience this for herself. Read how she got on…
Whale and Dolphin Watching
On any given day, if you set sail in the strait between Tenerife and the island of La Gomera, you’re almost guaranteed to spot free living short-finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins. A fact I didn’t know before my visit!
We set off from Puerto Colón, a bustling marina in Costa Adeje. Chilled champagne in hand, we enjoyed beautiful views of the southern coastline as we made our way out to sea. It was only 20 minutes or so before the captain brought the boat to a slowing halt and pointed to our left where there was a pod of 4 whales, one of which was a calf. We were able to watch from a fairly short distance as the family breached the water for air, one after the other, creating small splashes with their easy-to-spot flukes. As they set off for the horizon, we set off further up the coast to La Caleta where we were joined by the dolphins, playfully jumping in the waves left behind by the boat.
There’s nothing quite like seeing these sociable and curious mammals out in their natural habitat. They form one of the most important colonies of whales on the planet and an unmissable experience when in Tenerife. Many bookable excursions even include snorkelling, swimming, a traditional Canarian lunch and other extras.
Ballet Carmen Mota – “Antología”
If you’re after lively restaurants and bars, or an abundance of entertainment, there’s nowhere better than Playa de las Américas. Yes it’s got the great beaches, but there’s also vibrant streets, the best shopping and, most importantly, flamenco.
On our second night in Tenerife we went to see Antología, a show choreographed by renowned dancer Carmen Mota, who has dedicated her life to Spanish ballet. With almost 40 years in the business, Antología celebrates some of the most poignant dances of her career. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it made for an exceptional evening. Combining traditional flamenco with a modern twist, the numerous costumes were bright, vivid colours, and the footwork often too fast and adept to follow. My favourite part was the beginning of the second act when live cantadores joined the dancers on stage.
Without saying much more, the passion of both the performers and Carmen Mota herself is reflected throughout the show, and you really take a journey through the history of flamenco. Take the kids or have an adults’ night out – it’s a fantastic experience for any age.
Sunset and stargazing at Teide National Park
As a lover of landscapes and nature, a real highlight for me was visiting Teide National park. Sitting proudly at its heart is Mount Teide, an active volcano which also happens to be the highest point in Spain (don’t miss the view from your plane window as you circle for landing). You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve arrived on the red planet; the unique landscape is covered in sandy craters, old lava flows and volcanic vents. It’s a geologists dream.
As the sun began dipping to the west, we took the cable car up to the summit where we were rewarded with panoramic views of the island (and a glass of bubbly to make a toast in the volcano’s shadow, too). After learning more about the volcano itself, there was a guided walk to the Pico Viejo viewpoint; sensible footwear is a must. We then settled down on the rocks to watch one of the most impressive sunsets I’ve ever seen. Don’t forget your camera!
It’s absolutely worth staying late and combining the sunset with some stargazing. After our descent we had a delicious cocktail and canapé dinner whilst waiting for complete nightfall. Due to the high altitude and low levels of light pollution, Teide is considered to be one of the top three destinations in the world to observe the constellations. The park has been awarded the “Starlight Tourist Destination” and “Starlight Reserve” certificates by the Starlight Foundation. We were joined by local astronomers with professional state-of-the-art telescopes – though the sky was so clear and bright it was just as dramatic with the naked eye. They even taught me where to find Montes Teneriffe on the moon, and why it was named after the island.
In the north is the lazy city of La Laguna. Once the capital of Tenerife, the old town is considered to be one of the most picturesque on the island and the cultural capital of the Canaries. They aren’t wrong!
We spent the morning wandering the grid-like cobbled streets, in awe of the colourful 16-18th century buildings that frame them. It’s no wonder that this place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999; it’s a real historic gem. Longstanding churches, convents and cloisters intermingle with quirky shops and inviting cafés, many of which still have their original facades. We stopped for a coffee, sitting outside to engage in one of my favourite pastimes – people watching. Maybe it wasn’t as lazy as I first thought. Groups of local families and friends were gathering in the town’s main square, still celebrating Corpus Christi from the day before. The neighbourly atmosphere just felt endemic to the place.
The southern beaches of Tenerife may provide the perfect spot for sun worshippers, but in La Laguna you can experience the traditions and daily lives of the islands’ residents. Perfect if you’re looking for a taste of authentic Tenerife, or just after an effortless day trip from Puerto de la Cruz.
Have you experienced this side of Tenerife?