Traipsing in Tenerife

/ New Delhi
Traipsing in Tenerife

Tenerife is known for its volcanic sand beaches and the temperature is ideal for swimming and pursuing water sports all around the year © Turespaña

Those looking to soak in idyllic island life need look no further than the Canary Islands. Here is a shortlist of the experiences to be had over a week in Tenerife, the largest island in the archipelago, to make the most of these volcanic islands.
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The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa, are rugged volcanic isles known for their black-sand beaches. Although these islands form the southernmost region of Spain, because of their location, the Canary Islands have historically been considered an important link between the four continents of Africa, North America, South America and Europe. With cultural influences from all four continents over several centuries, the Canary Islands are an incredible destination offering rich cultural activities, spectacular landscapes and a thriving gastronomical and indigenous wine scene. Year-round sunshine and pleasant temperatures make this a perfect holiday spot all through the year!

These volcanic islands have varying microclimates, which means that one can get transported from beautiful coasts to lush forests to an active volcano, all in the same day! Tenerife, the largest island, is dominated by Mount Teide, an active volcano that also gets occasional snowfall.

Explore Mount Teide National Park

Besides being Spain’s highest peak, the area around Mount Teide is also a UNESCO-protected national park. It is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world standing tall at an altitude of 3,715 metres. Needless to say, it offers magnificent views over the island of Tenerife.

Though Teide is not dormant or extinct as sulphurous vapours still rise up in various places, the last eruption happened more than a hundred years ago, in 1909, so visitors need not be worried while exploring it. There are multiple hiking trails to suit different levels of fitness.

But no matter which hiking trail you take, everywhere you can see bizarre-shaped structures, cooled lava flows or yellowish shimmering sulfur fields and you have a wonderful view from both sides into the large volcanic cauldron, the Caldera Cañadas del Teide.

With varying microclimates every few hundred kilometres, you can go from the gorgeous coast to climbing a volcanic peak within the same day ©Turespaña

Another highlight of the Teide National Park is the rock group Los Roques. The most famous of these oddly-shaped towers of volcanic rock is the Roque Cinchado, which is also called the “Stone Tree” or “Finger of God”.

Adventure enthusiasts must keep in mind that one cannot get to the summit of Teide by cable car. The mountain station is located at an altitude of 3,555 m, about 160 metres below the summit at 3,715 m. One can attain the summit only with a special permit.

One of the most memorable activities here is paragliding through a thick bed of clouds. The top of Pico del Teide is less than 15 km from the coast. Since the Caldera and the Teide peak are usually above the cloud cover, paragliders would pass through dense clouds on their way to land near the coast, making it one of the best places in the world to do paragliding. The gorgeous views and stable air currents enhance the entire experience. The landing usually takes place on La Caleta beach, Adeje, where one can relax and have a drink at the beach bar nearby

Exploring on land & sea

From typical Canarian balconies to murals in the streets, gorgeous century-old buildings and homes that are maintained well to this day, heritage buffs will enjoy the unique character of Tenerife. The highlight of this area is the Old City or San Cristobal de La Laguna, also known as La Laguna for short. Founded in 1496, La Laguna is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is said to be the first colonial city without city walls. Here, many historic buildings are still very well preserved, including about 600 buildings of the Mudejar Muslims. One of the most charming ways to explore is by walking from the Plaza del Adelantado, past the Santa Catalina Monastery to get to the historic center. One can sign up for a walking tour or simply stroll through the alleys, past historic buildings, cafes, restaurants and small shops.

Another exciting activity at Tenerife is whale watching which, unlike most other places, can be done fairly close to the coast. Within just 10 minutes from the coast of Tenerife we were surrounded by short fin pilot whales and dolphins, partly as the ocean here is very deep as the islands are volcanic and hence have steep gradients off the coast. A typical tour lasts two hours and is led by marine biologists who inform and respond to questions about the marine ecosystem here, which is fairly evident during the boat rides

Eat, drink & shop

Mojo sauce, Canarian flan or cheese aged in a volcanic cave, the food in Tenerife is certainly a highlight. With the emphasis on freshness, everyday Canarian dishes comprise grilled meats or fish like tuna, swordfish and sea bass, stews and vegetables – many of which are hearty and delicious.

Canarian wines and cheese are gaining recognition along with local food specialties like gofio that you’ll only get to taste in the Canary Islands ©Turespaña

Mojo is the most popular Canarian culinary item. A red or green sauce accompanying the humble potato or some fine ham, you will find it almost everywhere you dine. There are over 20 different versions of mojo; every chef puts his or her own spin on it. You will even find a range of bottled mojo sauces at all grocery stores – great to carry back with you as food souvenirs.

Another hyper-local specialty is the gofio, a corn or millet flour, which is toasted using a traditional method. Those with a sweet tooth ought to try Canarian flan, light as a feather, enhanced with a rich caramel and often addictive, one bite involuntarily leads to the next!

The varied micro climates within the islands ensure that there is a superb variety of fresh produce, as well as fine grapes for new age wines. Canarian wines are young and delicious, and are finding a place on award winning lists. Popular wines produced in the Canary Islands wine region include Malmsey or Malvasia, Moscatel dessert wine, Marmajuelo, Tintilla, Rosé, and Listan Negro and Listan Blanco.

Another local drink that you must try is the barraquito. A multi-layered coffee liqueur drink, it is served in a glass to enable easy viewing of the different layers. The condensed milk is right at the bottom, followed by a special local liqueur – Liqor 43 that is made with 43 ingredients – followed by espresso and lemon peel, and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

The best places to go shopping in Tenerife include local markets, car-free avenues, and upscale malls. And with the lowest taxes in Europe, this island is a shopper’s paradise where one can get all European and international brands at much lower prices. The well-heeled can ask for a personal shopper at upscale Spanish department store, El Corte Ingles.

Between the beaches

From the beautiful coast of Puerto de la Cruz to Costa Adeje, Tenerife has some of the most gorgeous beaches. One can pick from therapeutic black volcanic sands to golden sand beaches, of which many are ideal for surfing and water sports too. A highlight for young and old is the municipal swimming pool complex Costa Martiánez, which is located directly on the ocean. The artificially created swimming pool holds about 27,000 cubic metres of seawater and is surrounded by four other adult pools and three children’s pools, lined with various bars and restaurants.

From street side bargains to swanky malls, shopping in Tenerife is sweetened by lower prices and the lowest taxes in Europe © Turespaña

Tenerife is one of the islands in the Canaries which have eight major islands and many more smaller islands. One can go island-hopping here and even plan sejours on different islands like La Palma or Gran Canaria. From family-friendly attractions and calm beaches to extreme water sports and hardcore hiking, each island offers its own special experiences.

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