With its sub-tropical climate guaranteeing year-round sunshine, its spectacular scenery and warm Spanish welcome, Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, takes a lot of beating as a hot holiday destination. Here are some of my favourite things to do on this small sun-kissed island.
Feel on top of the world
Mount Teide, at the centre of the island, is a fabulously strange world. Drive into the 10-mile-wide volcanic crater and it’s like entering a science fiction movie - such as Clash of the Titans which was filmed here. It’s an easy drive on good roads, taking you past cafés above the clouds for a unique refreshment stop en route.
And for that last stage to its iconic tip - the cable car will whizz you up 1,200 metres (3,937 ft), above the crater floor for superb views over the island, the Canarian archipelago and way beyond.
Top Tip: Take a jacket, even in the height of summer, and good walking shoes, as you can take a path to the top to explore further.
Open daily 9am to 4pm.
Enjoy fun with the family at Siam Park
The large Thai-themed water park frequently wins awards and it’s easy to see why.
Siam Park is a real family-friendly attraction, with aquatic features that range from a wave park, where the surf gets up to three metres high, letting you ride the waves like a real professional, to the Singha, a ride over 240 metres (780 ft) long that bends and curls its way from start to end.
Set in an exotic tropical park, you can either enjoy the adrenaline-fuelled rides or be as lazy as you want to be. Why not hire a cabin for the day? Or, after exhausting both the children and yourself on the thrill rides, you can simply sit on the sandy beach or take a genteel ride down the Mai Thai River in a dinghy.
Open daily from 10am to 6pm from 1 May to 31 October, and 10am to 5pm from 1st November - 30th April.
Go wild at Loro Parque
The sister attraction to Siam Park is famous for being home to the largest collection of parrots in the world. But don’t worry if those gaudy, noisy birds don’t rock your boat.
Loro Parque ticks all the boxes, with dolphins that pirouette and dive to entertain, and Orca whales which provide equally amazing moments.
There are jungle walkways in the aviary where you will come face to face with emus, kookaburras, cockatoos and more, plus the largest collection of lovable penguins outside the Antarctic region. This wonderfully wild experience is to be found in the northern capital, Puerto de la Cruz, an 80-minute drive from the south of the island.
Open daily from 8.30am to 6.45pm. Last entrance is at 4pm.
Go whale or dolphin watching
Book a boat tour from either Los Gigantes or Los Cristianos to take a gentle cruise through the warm crystal waters, on a mission to spot whales and dolphins cavorting around you.
Bottlenose and Risso dolphins, accompanied by Pilot and Sperm whales, are the resident species in these waters, who will happily dive under your boat and swim alongside in their pods.
You will soon feel the suspense at being so close to those magnificent creatures that you can actually hear them breathing - bringing you out in goosebumps! Take a long, lazy, lunch or dinner once back on dry land at one of the many delightful harbour-side cafés and restaurants while you contemplate the wonder of your day.
Take a hike in the hills
Tenerife is great walking country, particularly in the north-east corner where the lush green forests of the remote Anaga Mountains take you a world away from the beaches of the sultry south-west.
The landscape here is ruggedly beautiful, from misty forests to towering pinnacles, this is one of nature’s finest showcases.
Paths are well marked, making this a super family-friendly adventure. Hikes through the mountain ravines and rainforests vary in length, but you will relish every part of this ‘secret Tenerife’. Book with the walking company, Anaga Atrapiés, or buy a good walking guide book.
Wander through Spanish colonial history
A visit to the island’s former capital, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, is certainly rewarding. It is one of two UNESCO World Cultural and Heritage Sites on the island and was its capital until 1821.
Do not be deterred by its sprawling urban exterior. The Old Quarter is, quite literally, a hidden gem of perfectly preserved palatial mansions from a mix of several different architectural periods, owing to the mixed nationalities of its wealthy inhabitants who built this vibrant and colourful city throughout the centuries.
Walk the ancient streets overflowing with buildings dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries.
It isn’t all about the history, however, La Laguna today is a lively university town, with pavement cafés where it is an absolute pleasure just to sit and watch the world go by. Head for the marble fountain in the lush Plaza del Adelantado, and turn into Calle Obispo Rey Redondo, a spectacular street that will give you a taste of traditional Spain. It may not have a beach, but San Cristóbal de La Laguna has the best of the rest.
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