TENERIFE: A TROPICAL SPANISH ISLAND IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
I had never heard about Tenerife until a few months ago when we were looking for a warm weather getaway from the dark, cold, and dreadful Berlin winter. Someone had mentioned surfing in the Canary Islands and just like that our flights were booked and we were packing up for the beach. Tenerife is the largest of the 7 islands that make up the Canaries and also the most populated. The island was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, shaping its rugged and fascinating landscape. The north is mountainous, green, and lush with the most steep and jagged terrain I've ever seen. The mountains meet the ocean in a dramatic and stunning way. There hasn't been a volcanic eruption though in over 100 years since 1909. Although the island was conquered by Spain in the 1400's, it actually resides less than 200 miles off the west coast of Morocco. In the northern part, when you start out driving along the coast you'll see tropical plants and tons of cacti, along with flowers and lush vegetation, but the higher you go the more it turns into a thick and dark pine forest and you're quickly in another realm.
We stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Jardín Tropical on the south end of the island which faces the La Gomera Island. The average temperature in the town of Costa Adeje is 23ºC all year round. The massive hotel grounds reaching about 12,000 m2 are overflowing with subtropical vegetation where birds chirping fill the air and clear blue skies open up above you. 1,700 different species of exotic plants call the hotel grounds home. The white Moorish style hotel is by far the most dazzling resort on the island and has over 400 hotel rooms and suites although it doesn't feel overwhelmingly huge. To the contrary the hotel still obtains an intimate feel where you still have plenty of your own quiet space. Sprawling levels spread around the pools and gardens, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Behind the hotel soars giant barren mountains that create storm clouds above, leaving the land below it a microclimate where the sun tends to gleam. The rooms are wonderfully decorated with gorgeous furnishings, super comfy beds, large balconies, along with spa like bathrooms with products from one of my favorite brands, Rituals. When it comes to food, be prepared to have your mind blown here. If you're a foodie like me, you'll enjoy the endless and exciting options that the hotel has to offer. For seafood lovers- Las Rocas Restaurant resides cliffside over the ocean and focuses on seafood with the freshest ingredients. If you are a fan of all you can eat, the Laguna Food Market offers a fresh take on a buffet with innovative and unique options from salad bars, a sushi table, chefs cooking your choice of seafood on the grill in front of you, along with Spanish style tapas, a fondue chocolate fountain, and endless treats in between. If you're craving Italian food the newly opened Ugo & Vandino has launched where you can enjoy dinner. Outside throughout the grounds there are plenty of other bars and restaurants to keep you busy. The activities are limitless- if you're a golfer you can play on some of the most beautiful courses on the island. The hotel has water aerobic courses (aqua fitness, boxing, and stand up paddle) and the outdoor gym with ocean views offers a daily program of fitness classes like yoga, pilates, zumba, and bodypump!
Top picks of things to see and do on Tenerife:
- Mount Teide National Park- This enormous volcano stands 3718m (12,198 ft) above sea level. We had intentions of driving there, taking the cable car up, and then hiking around the top but once we got to the base of it the entrance was closed due to high winds. Within our time of waiting out the snow the sky cleared completely and we got to see the top of the volcano. It's ranked as the third tallest volcano in the world! While driving from our hotel town near the ocean all the way to the volcano base, the terrain changed what seemed to be a hundred times. Once we hit higher elevation, the pine trees dwindled off and there were fields covered in solidified lava formations. We went from the sunny resort within 20 minutes and were in a complete snow storm on our drive to Teide. The weather there can change faster than the blink of an eye.
- The Lost Village of Masca- the "mini Macchu Picchu" village is tucked away high in some of the worlds steepest cliffs. You drive through winding zig zag roads slowly making your way down to the gorgeous setting. We got there right in time to snap photos while it was still sunny before the sky opened up and poured rain on us.
- Playa de las Teresitas- The man-made beach is the most photogenic on the island. Gorgeous Saharan sand, the most clear turquoise and calm water protected by the lagoon, surrounded the gorgeous green mountains of Anaga and views of an adorable fishing village.
- Anaga Forest- The higher we drove up into the steep mountains the less tropical it became, growing into a dense and obscure forest. It went from a warm and sunny coastline to a much colder and rainier place. The change of landscape was fascinating, allowing us to be in two completely different worlds in one day.
- La Laguna- We drove in right at sunset into the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The long and wide promenades stretched throughout the city with the mountains hovering in the background. It was a Sunday evening so families were all together heading to mass and out for an evening stroll. I was so impressed with the pristine town and architecture. Historic buildings stood, vibrantly painted, while new and trendy cafes dotted the streets.
There are hundreds of other incredible things to do on this magical island but we only had 4 full days. I would recommend a solid week or longer if possible so you can enjoy all the beauty Tenerife has to offer.