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Photo: Annika Goldhammer
Photo: Annika Goldhammer

Places

Tenerife – more than meets the eye

Whale safari, volcano trekking or stargazing? There’s much more than beautiful beaches to discover on Tenerife.

The sun is shining in a near cloudless sky and there’s a hint of a breeze as the boat bobs gently. A couple of tourists onboard, slap sunscreen on their pale arms while the crew keep their eyes peeled on the water.

Suddenly the skipper accelerates and one of the crew points excitedly. “Over there!” A gray dorsal fin breaks the surface and before long, we’re joined by several pilot whales, including a mother and calf making synchronized leaps against the backdrop of the snow-clad volcano, Teides. 

“Pilot whale dorsal fins are all unique, like human fingerprints,” our onboard guide says. “Around 800 different individuals have been identified here so far.”

We’re on a whale safari off the southwest coast of Tenerife, an exciting change after a couple of relaxing lazy days on the beach. We jumped aboard a safari boat at the Los Christianos resort, one of the best starting points for whale-watching in the Canary Isles. The waters between Tenerife and the neighboring island of La Gomera are home to one of the largest pilot whale colonies in the world and there’s also a good chance of seeing bottlenose dolphins and possibly even catching a glimpse of sperm whales, orcas, right whales and blue whales.
Whale-watching is just one of the many activities on offer if you want to see more than just beaches on Tenerife.

Here are some other tips:

Photo: Annika Goldhammer

University town of La Laguna

The university town of La Laguna is the most delightful on the island, with a historic center dotted with pastel-colored colonial houses and winding pedestrianized streets. It’s also the only town on Tenerife on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can wander around here for the day, step inside beautiful old churches and take a break at any of the numerous tapas bars. We suggest you start at the wonderful market, with its freshly picked vegetables, mature cheeses and other local delicacies. Follow the locals’ lead and start or end your visit with churros and a hot chocolate at the café outside the market.

La Laguna

La Laguna

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Swim with turtles

El Puertito is the best beach for spotting turtles on Tenerife. Even inexperienced snorkelers have a good chance of encountering meter-long sea turtles in this small, sheltered bay. All you have to do is put on a mask and swim out from the beach. If you’re lucky you’ll return with a memory for life.

El Puertito

El Puertito

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Photo: Annika Goldhammer

Teide

At 3,718m, Teide is the third highest volcano in the world and the highest mountain in Spain. It’s ringed by a world heritage listed national park with a fascinating lunar landscape and hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty.A cable car runs from the base of the volcano to the summit. Magnificent panoramic views over the Canary Islands await at the top, but the air is thin and temperature much cooler, so be sure to take warm clothes.

Teide

Pico del Teide 38300

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Stargazing

Tenerife and the neighboring island of La Palma are some of the best places in the world for stargazing. The dry climate, isolated location and clean air make it a spectacular activity at any time of the year. Teide has one of the biggest observatories in the world and a visitor center with information on the solar system. You can also go on various guided stargazing trips.

Playa Jardin and natural lava pools

The black lava sand and surrounding gardens and stone formations make Playa Jardin more than just a beach. Within walking distance of central Puerto de la Cruz and designed by Canarian artist César Manrique, the beach is divided into three sections and has cafés and other facilities on offer. Another must for swimming enthusiasts to take a dip in the naturally formed seawater pools around the island, such as in the fishing village of Garachico. The pools were created by lava after a volcanic eruption 400 years ago.

Playa Jardin

Playa Jardín, Puerto de la Cruz

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Vilaflor

Between the stone pine forests at 1,400m above sea level, just under an hour south of Teide, is Vilaflor, the highest village in Spain. It’s also famous for having the best almond cakes on the island. There are two bakeries at opposite ends of the village, so just ask the first local you see for directions to the nearest dulceria.The road to Vilaflor is an experience in itself, edged by spectacular cacti, vineyards and – if you come here in winter, almond trees in blossom.There are also several hiking and cycling trails in the area, which makes Vilaflor a good starting point for energetic visitors.

Vilaflor

Vilaflor

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