Tenerife is the undisputed champ when it comes to winter sunshine breaks and continues to pull in the crowds – up to 10 million travelers a year. While this may sound like mass tourism gone mad, nothing could be further from the truth. With the exception of hectic Playa de las Americas and neighbouring Los Cristianos, Tenerife beach life is refreshingly low key. In fact the island has moved away from a reputation for cheap booze and burgers and is just as likely to incorporate swanky spas, eco-adventure, golf and wellness retreats, even in the aforementioned hotspots. Of course there is just as much opportunity to indulge in a traditional diet of sun and sand, water sports and mindless fun for the kids.
Life at nearby Fañabe and Del Duque revolves around cultured dining, shopping and luxury spa hotels and is the place to mingle with A-list celebs. North Tenerife is noted more for cultural pursuits and a rural way of life and if that is more your style then Puerto de la Cruz makes for the ideal base. This neat beach resort with cobbled streets, boasting an attractive promenade and is home to the Loro Parque wildlife centre, a popular stop on the tour bus circuit.
The whole island of Tenerife is well connected either by public transport or organised excursions. The most popular side trip away from the beach is to the Teide National Park where you can scale the volcanic peak on a five hour hike or take it easy riding a cable car to the summit. Mountain bike treks are also popular in the forested foothills. Whichever mode you take, the views from the top are fabulous. Dozens of traditional Canarian villages dot the landscape, from quaint fishing communities to age old cave dwellings perched high in the mountains. The picture perfect village of Masca takes most of the plaudits. Located high on a rocky outcrop with tracks leading down through a lush pine forest to a desolate beach, this is arguably Tenerife’s most breathtaking hiking trail.
Although it plays second fiddle to beach life, there is a vibrant arts scene to discover on the island. Tenerife has several symphony and chamber orchestras based in the capital of Santa Cruz, although you can often catch a musical performance near Costa Adeje at the Magma Art Centre. The island capital is big on cultural heritage too. You’ll find museums dedicated to natural sciences, anthropology and archaeology and even star gazing. Holidaymakers staying in Puerto de la Cruz can take a break from the beach and learn about Tenerife’s pre Hispanic Guanche heritage, crafts and folklore.
Tenerife’s myriad countryside activities and extreme sporty action are a big hit with all ages and you will be surprised with the sheer variety of fun to be had. In addition to a typical diet of water sports, you can go in search of whales and dolphins, paragliding, canyoning, caving, kayaking and horse riding. Of course Tenerife is still king of winter golfing breaks with eight championship courses.