tenerife | spain | '17 - a journey to the undiscovered side of the island
'tenerife. journey to the undiscovered side of the island'
i stepped of the plane to the unmistakeable smell of bananas. thats what i think every time i arrive on this beautiful island. i have been coming to tenerife for nearly 20 years after my grandparents moved here in the late 90's. i spent my childhood summers on the island and in particular a beautiful local town called 'playa san juan', its located on south west of the island. i have the fondest memories of this little town with its traditional fishing boats & rugged coastline that takes you all the way to the local port.
tenerife is the largest island of the canary islands with around a million people. its well known as the destination of choice for holiday makers from europe especially in the winter as its one of the only places still within the EU that has temperatures over 20c in the wintertime. tenerife has battled with a bad reputation in recent years as a destination for all inclusive package holidays that are mostly located in playa de las americas & los cristianos. but tenerife is far more than these resorts, it is has the highest point in all of spain (tiede volcano), beautiful national parks, the unesco world heritage site of la laguna. a beautiful historical town in the east of the island. so lets get to the areas that i explored over my two week adventure while on the island. just to note you need a car to get around most of tenerife as public transport is not comparable to the big cities..
this lighouse in the most northwesterly part of the island is a truly beautiful area that has spectacular views over a rugged coastline and the masca cliffs. it's one of the most underdeveloped and sparsely populated areas of tenerife but thats what gives its charm. the wind howls in your ears as you walk around the pristinely manicured volcanic rock pathways that are a recent addition making it much easier to navigate the site. make sure to visit here on a nice clear day as its always extremely windy so if coming on a cloudy day make sure to pack a waterproof jacket.
in the photo on the right i wanted to capture the true essence of the area when i first arrived i noticed that their was lots of fishing boats so i decided to compose this image to capture the beautiful nature that surround the area with the cliffs of masca (some of the highest sea cliffs in the world). i found these unused fishing boats that had just been brought to shore by the fishermen moments earlier after the morning shift. getting to teno takes you through some high risk falling rock roads. a sign at the start of the road tell you to not go further but just ignore it and carry on your way down the road.
garachico & icod de los vinos
both located on the northern coast of the island these beautiful old towns are a historic oasis from your beach tanning days. garachico is nestled between a 500m cliff face and the ocean. its has a beautiful old square with plenty of shade for those hot summer days, you need to try a typical coffee from the canary islands in the morning called cortado leche leche its an espresso with a layer of condensed milk toped with freshly steamed milk. it makes for a great start for the day. exploring the old buildings, museums and shops are a great way to spend part of the day. now lets get onto icod; its a town made famous by a special tree. the oldest dragon tree in the world that is thought to be over 500 years old a truly beautiful place close to the main area where you will find some cool bars and restaurants.
san cristobal de la laguna
this unesco world heritage site is located in the north east of the island. for me this is the most beautiful and historical city in tenerife home to plenty of museums, bar, shops its also home to one of the island universities you can see this in the new young hipster businesses that are popping up all around the historical centre. my favourite place is the area around the immaculate conception church take a seat at a bar and take up people watching for a few hours. .
teide national park
this is spains highest peak its also a world heritage listed park. nothing can prepare you for the views and landscapes that you will encounter on your way to the mountain from pine forests to rock deserts. this is a must do while on the island if you don't have a car then make sure to take a tour to the top. if your coming up from the south of the island you'll arrived at a parking area the rock formation in the photo to the right. this is a great place to take in the views of the volcano and ofcouse some selfies. there is also a cable car here that take you right to the top. i have been coming to tenerife for nearly 20 years i thought that i had done everything but this time i did something new and that was coming up here to do some star gazing. this is one of the best places in europe for star gazing you'll also find an observatory close by and you can see why i have never seen stars like it before, i seen the milky way like it was on a 4K television it had such a clarity to it i also spotted some shooting stars while i was up there. just a few tips: have a coffee and take in the sites near the rock formations at the cafe, when its cloudy on the coast go up to tiede you won't be disappointed as you'll be above the clouds as in the pic at the top of post.
playa san juan
this is my town; my second home for nearly 20 years. i have been coming to san juan since i was 12 years old when my grandparents decided to retire here. i can honestly say that coming from england this was like paradise for me i came most summers during my childhood to stay in this amazing place. san juan is a small fishing town on the south coast of tenerife that has not been taken over by tourists. they don't have a hotel here and although some foreigners are living here it still retains it spanish roots from the tapas bar passed from generation to generation to the small fishing boats in the port. if your looking for a place in tenerife away from all the tourists and want to have a more authentic experience then this is the place, its nothing like the big resorts.
i have the fondest childhood memories of fishing off the rocks with my grandfather during the early mornings most of the time we would come back with nothing but it was all about the experience not the fish to be honest. this is whats great about san juan you can truly spend time with your loved ones none of distractions of the big resorts its so quiet and relaxing here and although more development is coming to san juan like the new beach area & bars this is just progress, its helping the local economy. if you looking to stay here then check out airbnb for the best apartments you'll find a $/€20 discount code below.
tenerife is the perfect winter destination as most other places in europe will be cold but here you will always find the sun, i tend to come here in January for february. tenerife will always have a special place in my heart, i truly believe that i will continue to return here for the rest of my life. i implore you to look past the bad reputation of some parts of the island and book a flight here to explore this truly amazing island.
my recommended places to visit
- tiede national park
- playa san juan
- san cristobal de la laguna
places to eat & drink
- restaurant antonio (san juan)
- 100 montaditos (san cristobal)
- la ecologica (santa cruz)
how to get around
- car hire
- motocycle hire
where i stayed
- family home in playa san juan
length of stay
- 2 weeks at least here to get the most out of the island.
- currency here is the euro. its one of the cheapest place in wester europe as the only have a affective tax rate of 7%.
country travel tips
atm: any is fine they all charge a small fee.
taxi: can be expensive here take an uber
sim card: if your european then a new law in june 2017 made it free to use your sim.
uber: use code; carlm5078ue
Booking.com: get $20usd off your booking click here
airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here: www.airbnb.com/c/cmuies