Four ways to experience Tenerife, beyond the beaches

There's more to Tenerife than its broad, sandy beaches and glitzy resorts. Venture into its volcanic interior to discover landscapes perfect for adventure, or head to the capital to sample exciting cuisine and dive deep into the island's culture.

By Tenerife Tourism Corporation
Published 27 Feb 2021, 17:34 GMT
Tenerife's volcanic stretches of land offer rich biodiversity — comprising forests, deep gorges, mountains and coast.

Tenerife's volcanic stretches of land offer rich biodiversity — comprising forests, deep gorges, mountains and coast.

Photograph by Tenerife Tourism

The island of eternal spring, Tenerife is blessed with good weather year-round. And while its beautiful stretches of coastline are great for basking in the sun and relaxing, the island also has a wealth of adventurous appeal. The volcanic interior, deep gorges and waterfalls make for great hiking routes, while the multiple fiestas that fill the streets each month create a carnival atmosphere.

1. Discover the island's wildlife

The south coast of Tenerife is one of the best places in Europe to spot bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales, which roam the waters here all year. Humpbacks and blue whales can also be seen between November and February, while sperm whales are mainly spotted between March and April. Responsible boat tour companies can be identified through Tenerife’s Blue Boat system, which provides licences to operators running ethically.

On land, some 70 species of breeding birds can be seen from vantage points dotted in the mountains, on the coast and in between. Thanks to Tenerife’s clement weather, birdwatching is possible year-round. There are yellow canaries, blue chaffinches, owls, kestrels and eagles on the island, as well as escaped parrots that frequently fly through Parque García Sanabria in the vibrant capital of Santa Cruz. From late summer to early autumn, meanwhile, species including Arctic tern and sooty shearwater touch down on the island. Mouflon, a breed of wild sheep, are also ever-present in the island’s wilder regions, while goats can be seen on the sheer sides of ravines.

Teide National Park in the centre of the island includes Spain’s highest peak, Pico del Teide volcano. 

Photograph by Alvaro Armas Dorta

2. Immerse yourself in the culture

Outside of the pandemic, there are multiple fiestas every month of the year on the island, adding up to hundreds annually. Certain barrios (neighbourhoods) put on their own localised celebrations, too — the town of Los Realejos, in the north, plays host to more than 80 fiestas a year. The busiest fiesta period is between May and the end of September, when upwards of 60 take place each month.

Undoubtedly the biggest and best-known is Tenerife Carnival, which lasts for several weeks in February, starting with the Election of the Tenerife Carnival Queen and the Opening Parade. The second part of the carnival includes numerous outdoor parties and a huge parade, along with various day parades and night events. The usual street parties and events have been suspended for 2021; however, they’re hopefully set to return in 2022.

3. Experience the great outdoors

Tenerife is a year-round adventure playground just waiting to be discovered. The volcanic island is home to incredible biodiversity in its forests, gorges and mountains as well as coastline. Teide National Park in the centre of the island includes Spain’s highest peak, Mount Teide volcano (12,198ft). Walking trails around the volcano traverse through shades of orange and red rock including Roque Cinchado — a rock formation that’s pierced its way through the ground and become emblematic of Tenerife. A world-renowned dark sky area, Teide National Park also offers some of the finest stargazing to be found in Europe.

Parque Rural de Anaga: a sprawling nature-filled reserve in Tenerife's northeast.

Photograph by Tenerife Tourism Corporation

After Pico Viejo’s catastrophic eruption 27,000 years ago, a network of winding underground tunnels formed in an 11-mile cavity lava tube. Visitors can wander through to discover stalactites and lava lakes, as well as the 190 species that spend their entire lives in total darkness. For a different perspective, it’s possible to snorkel or dive through rocky reefs and tunnels of cooled lava. Elsewhere, the nature reserve Barranco del Infierno is filled with deep gorges and flowing waterfalls. Meanwhile, on the coast, the island is a paradise for both experienced and beginner surfers with reef breaks on lots of the beaches.

4. Sample eclectic cuisine

The island’s temperate climate, varied landscapes and fertile volcanic soil means much of the cuisine is based around fresh, local ingredients that are available throughout the year. The surrounding sea provides plenty of seafood while cheese is typically made from goat’s milk. One of the key pillars of cuisine in Tenerife is centred around gofio flour, which is made using ground toasted grains and then served alongside fruit, cereals, stews or lentil dishes.

Santa Cruz is filled with eating options, with restaurants and bars catering to all tastes. A visit to the town’s food market is a great way to get familiar with local ingredients such as gofio, mojo, honey, cheese and bananas. Tascas and guachinches are informal eateries serving up locally produced wine with homemade traditional food that can be found across the island. La Caleta, meanwhile, is the place to go for fresh seafood — in this small but popular fishing village there are numerous restaurants and beach bars dotted along the seafront. 

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