When you think of Tenerife, you probably think of packed beaches, all day breakfast cafes, high rise hotels and a handful of mega clubs. And you’re right, these package holiday cliches exist mostly in the overdeveloped south west corner of the island. The good news is that it leaves the rest of this beautiful island to the independent traveller, where we can explore its geological wonders, fine colonial architecture and photogenic national parks…
Tenerife is dominated by Mount Teide, the 3,718 metre volcano that sits at the heart of the island. Last active in 1909, the national park that sits around it is a martian-like landscape with strange rock formations and lava fields you can clamber over. The Cueva del Viento-Sobrado lava tubes that you can visit nearby give you access to the caves that the volcanoes destructive lava left behind on its way down to the sea 27,000 years ago.
In the village of Icod de los Vinos, you’ll find one of the most remarkable trees you’ll ever see. Originally thought to be 1000 years old, but probably more like 250 years old, the enormous dragon tree is an extraordinary sight.
Away from the tourist areas, the island’s beaches are peaceful and uncrowded. The coastline of Tenerife is typically rugged and steep, particularly on the north of the island. Due to the island’s volcanic activity many of the beaches are known for their black sand but there is also many other beaches with much finer and clearer sand.
Tenerife is a hikers paradise. With a variety of trails for all tastes and abilities, you’ll find something for you. Highlights include the trek down from Masca to the sea is spectacular and you can take a boat back alongside the appropriately named Los Gigantes cliffs.
A huge amount of the island is national parks. In the north east corner, Anaga is renowned for its spectacular views and beautiful laurel forests. And in Teide national park, you can hike around bizarre volcanic rock formations as well as to the peak of the volcano (with the help of a cable car!) for stunning views not just of the island, but of most of the Canary Islands too.
Tenerife is home to some lovely small towns with colourful rustic and colonial architecture. La Orotava and La Laguna in particular are charming, easy to get around and very photogenic.
I hope I’ve done enough to convince you what an interesting travel destination Tenerife can be, forget pre-booked package breaks and hire a car and explore the island’s beautiful and cultured side for yourself.
Article and all photos by regular contributor James Taylor. Find more of his photos on Instagram @theteacherjames