What makes Tenerife a first class Canary Islands tourist destination
Why holiday-makers choose Tenerife in the Canary Islands?
Tenerife in the Canary Islands is a very popular choice for tourists and holiday-makers who are looking for somewhere in the sun to spend their time. The island, although part of Spain, lies off the coast of North Africa and generally enjoys good temperatures all year round - in fact the Canaries have often been referred to as the "islands of the blessed."
Tenerife has everything that anyone going on holiday could want - it has resorts with all the traditional attractions, it has plenty of excellent sandy beaches, it has golf courses and other sporting facilities and it also has a wide range of incredibly beautiful countryside for the more adventurous visitors to the island to explore.
Tenerife's main mountain, Mt Teide, is the highest mountain in Spain and offers some truly out-of this world scenery that looks more like Mars or the Moon. Some of Mt Teide's volcanic rocky slopes and plains were chosen as the locations for the filming of science fiction films such as Barbarella.
There are forests too, of Canarian pine (Pinus canariensis) and also of assorted evergreen trees and shrubs that form what is known as "laurisilva" forest. The mountains attract clouds that give the trees and other plants the moisture they need and also create a unique natural habitat where lichens hang down from the mossy branches and ferns grow below. Aguamansa is one mountain village where unique forest like this can be seen. Many extremely rare plants and animals live in the mountains of Tenerife, and nowhere else on Earth!
Views of Tenerife
Tenerife's two different sides
The island of Tenerife offers two very different sides to it as well; the north is cooler and much greener because it gets far more cloud and rain, whereas the south is the hot dry zone with many parts similar to desert and covered in cacti and succulent plants that are adapted to the extreme conditions. It is is in the hotter south of the island that the main tourist resorts have become established.
Las Americas, Los Cristianos and Los Gigantes are some of the most popular resorts and because they cater more for holiday-makers who are very often from the UK, English is spoken in many shops, restaurants and other businesses. These resorts are all in south of the island, which is where the main airport is situated too.
In general you find that Spanish is the main language in the north of Tenerife where many people are unable to understand English. German is the other language often heard on Tenerife.
The resorts of Tenerife have plenty of bars, clubs, entertainment parks, hotels, swimming pools and golf courses. There is even the Golf del Sur area in the south of the island of Tenerife, located quite near to its main airport, Reina Sofía.or Tenerife South as it is also simply called.
Tour companies offer excursions around the island from these resorts and in addition there are plenty of boat cruises and diving trips to tempt the visitor to the island. Whale and dolphin watching can be done on some of these excursions by sea. You can take a boat cruise from Los Gigantes up along the coast as far as the Bay of Masca and back, as an example of such a trip.
Surfing is a very popular sport on Tenerife and the seaside town of El Médano is known worldwide as a Mecca for windsurfers. El Médano also is also close to Reina Sofía airport, making it handy for those arriving or wanting to get away.
The easy-to-spot bright green Tenerife buses are a really great way to see the island. The Titsa bus company runs regular and cheap services all over the island and people who want to see more than just the hotel, bar and beach find them very useful for exploring Tenerife. And there is plenty to explore with the beautiful mountains in the Anaga range in the north, to the countryside and forests of the Teno peninsula in the northwest.
This part of Tenerife has its mountains and forest too and is known as "Tenerife's secret," boasting the pretty Canarian towns of Los Silos and Buenavista and further along just in from the coast lies the village of Masca.
Masca is Tenerife's answer to Shangri-la and is a mountain village that until recently was cut off from the rest of the island but now has a road linking it with Buenavista on one side and Santiago del Teide on the other. The road between Masca and Santiago del Teide is a wonder in itself with extremely steep climbs as it zig-zags with many a hairpin bend and many an incredible drop to the valley below as it connects the two places.
In the north as well, is Puerto de la Cruz, which is a resort town and very popular with tourists. It has very beautiful Canarian squares, a lively seafront with several black sand beaches, an amazing botanical gardens, the Loro Parque (Parrot Park), excellent shopping centre, and the backdrop of Mt Teide, which in winter is often capped with snow like white icing.
And that is one of the truly fascinating things about Tenerife - Mt Teide can be white with snow but just half an hours drive to the coast brings you into hot sunshine and tropical palm trees.
The capital of Tenerife is Santa Cruz and this is also in the north, quite close to the charming university city of La Laguna. Santa Cruz boasts the Tenerife Auditorium, which puts on many top class entertainments and in February the city has the carnival, which is rightly said to rival the world famous one in Rio.
Just up from Santa Cruz on the northern coast is Las Teresitas, which is one of Tenerife's most beautiful and popular beaches. This beach is of white sand that was brought over from the Sahara especially to make it. It is often thought of as the best beach in Tenerife.
Los Rodeos is the other airport in Tenerife and it is located just a few kilometres from La Laguna. Flights go from there to all of the other islands in the archipelago such as La Palma, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
For people who are interested in history and the past there are many museums on Tenerife, and in these can be seen artefacts of and other displays about the mysterious Guanches, who were the original inhabitants of Tenerife before the Spanish conquest.
Although the main religion of the people of the island is Catholicism, influences from its Guanche past have become incorporated into the culture and celebrations. An example of this would be the bathing of goats in the sea at one of the many fiestas held on the island of Tenerife.
Speaking of the Guanches, in Icod de los Vinos in the northwest of the island there is a very ancient and massive Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco) that is known as the "Drago Milenario," and is believed to be between 1,000 and 3,000 years old. The Guanches were said to have assembled for meetings under it and today there is a park built around it, the Parque del Drago.
In here you can also see many examples of Canary Islands endemic wild flowers, herbs and shrubs. There are also Guanche caves in this park with represenations of how these people once lived on display.
In Icod de los Vinos there is also a butterfly gardens - the Mariposario del Drago where they rear many exotic species of butterflies and moths, and just outside Icod is Cueva del Vientos (Cave of the Winds), said to be the longest and most extensive volcanic cave system in the world.
From this brief description of Tenerife, you will be able to see that there's a lot more to the island than just sun and sea. Many people come here on holiday and fall so in love with the island that they end up moving here!
© 2008 Steve Andrews
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