The Canary Islands are nothing short of heaven on earth. They have an incredible, mild climate that attracts many tourists. The temperature rarely goes below 20 °C in winter and above 30 °C in summer. As a result, the flow of travellers never ceases year-round. The Canary archipelago is located in the Atlantic Ocean and consists of 7 large islands and several small ones. Just like Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands, it has a volcanic origin. The biggest and most populated island is Tenerife. I recommend starting your acquaintance with the faraway Spanish lands with it. Make sure to rent a car when you arrive at the island because you won’t be able to cover as many sights without it. Here’s a list of the best things to do on the island:
- 1. Watch Loro Parque’s Orca Show
- 2. Ascend to the Peak of Teide
- 3. Go to the Tenerife Carnival
- 4. Meet the Sunset near the Westernmost Lighthouse at Cape Teno
- 5. Do Some Sunbathing on the Playa de Las Teresitas Beach
- 6. Try Some Fresh Seafood at the Nuestra Señora de Africa Market
- 7. Feel the Spirit of the Island’s Capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Both adults and children will love this place. It’s more than a simple zoo. Many rare animals and birds from all over the world are gathered here. You can leave the warmth of Tenerife and visit the distant and cold Antarctica, as Loro Parque has the world’s largest penguin exhibition. There is a large colony of emperor penguins that is provided with 12 tons of fresh snow and ice every day. The most unique feature of the park is a giant pool with 22.5 million litres of seawater, where trained dolphins and orcas are performing an incredible show for the visitors several times a day. You will also see over 3500 parrots of varying size and colour. In some parts of Loro Parque, they fly around freely, and will gladly get to know you. Sea lions, gorillas, flamingos, anteaters, meerkats, leopards, and tigers are only some of the park’s inhabitants. There is also a massive oceanarium with over 15,000 inhabitants of the underwater world. The ticket covers both the entrance and all the performances held that day. Come as early as possible to see everything. The current price and show schedule are available on the park’s official website: http://www.loroparque.com/index.php/en/
Teide is the main attraction and calling card of Tenerife. Hundreds of thousands of tourists come here every year just to go up the highest summit of the Atlantic Ocean. The volcano looks incredibly gorgeous any time of the year. But it’s most impressive in winter when its peak is covered in snow. Teide is located right in the middle of the island and can be seen from almost any point on it. You can ascend to its summit on foot or take a comfy ride on a ropeway. If it works, that is, since it is often closed due to weather. At the foot of the volcano is a grand national park with an area of 19 hectares. In 2007, it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which goes to show how valuable it is. Even if you don’t want to go to the summit, do come here to spend some time strolling around the park’s vast territory. The park has a unique lunar landscape that makes you feel as if you’re on another planet. There are always numerous packed tourist buses, so come here early to take a parking spot. If you ever get tired of walking around the park, you can go to one of the many local cafés to refresh yourself. It’s best to pick a spot with a view of Teide.
Admission to the National Park is free. Ticket prices for the ropeway are available on the official website of Teide: https://www.volcanoteide.com/ru/natsionalnyyi_park/vulkan_teyide
Every year, from the middle of January until the end of March, many cities of the island hold numerous street carnivals. The streets are closed off to traffic for this purpose. They culminate in a grand Carnival in the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It’s second to the Brazilian Carnival in scope, so if you can’t come to Rio de Janeiro, the Canary Islands are a great alternative. Here, you will be surrounded by an atmosphere of carefree joy and happiness. People come to the Carnival to have a great time and temporarily leave all their troubles behind. Around a million people from all over the world take part in it every year. Endless parade of smiles, loud and cheerful music, vivid and gorgeous costumes – it’s as if you’re in another world. You can even take part in the colourful procession if you want. Note that the date and theme of the Carnival are different each year, so check the relevant information in advance on the official website: http://carnavaldetenerife.com/
Cape Teno is famous because it geographically “points” at Florida in the USA, and because of its twisting mountain road where landslides can occur. This is the road that will lead you to Punta de Teno. Its closed from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday till Sunday. We didn’t know that and had to wait until 5:01 pm for the boom gate to open. There was a massive row of cars standing beside us. When we got to the lighthouse, the sun was already setting, and it became noticeably colder. High waves and steep cliffs provide a sense of complete isolation from the rest of the world. Hollywood directors took note of this, which is why blockbusters like Fast & Furious 6 and Wrath of the Titans were shot here. The lighthouse itself no longer operates and is off-limits, protected by a fence. It makes for a lovely photo, though.
Tenerife has many beaches, but most of them are of volcanic origin, meaning their sand is black. In the case of Las Teresitas, however, people interfered and decided to make it the best beach on the island. And you can’t have the best beach without the snow-white sand. Over 320 tons of sand from the Sahara Desert was brought here on barges. The place was additionally decorated with palm trees and provided with an infrastructure. The shape of the bay itself protects from giant waves quite well. This made Las Teresitas the best beach on the island, and it’s hard to find a free spot here during summer. However, even though the perfect sand creates a divine image, the beach was not granted with a Blue Flag representing global recognition. The sea near the beach is not pure enough because of a big port located nearby. The government can’t regulate this issue, so Las Teresitas is never featured in world beach ratings, yet that doesn’t make it any less attractive for travellers.
The Canary Islands are the place to go for the freshest fish and seafood. And the primary market of Tenerife in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is perfect for that purpose. It was established in the 1940-s and is now one of the most famous attractions on the island. Apart from the abundance of goods, you will be pleasantly surprised by the prices, as they are lower than in the mainland Spain. You can buy them to go, but there is also an option to have them cooked on the spot. The market also offers many exotic fruits that experienced sellers will pick for you depending on whether you’re going to eat them on the same day, the day after, or immediately. Try to come here as early as possible because the tastiest things get eaten first.
The big city with a population of 220 thousand people will appeal to anyone who likes large bright streets. You can also take a walk down the old pedestrian street Rambla de Santa Cruz that will take you back to the past. Museums, exhibitions, a botanic garden, and even an opera house all make for a pleasant pastime. Santa Cruz is just as peerless when it comes to shopping. There are several large trade centres in the city where you can buy anything from the newest smartphone to children’s clothes. The tax incentives implemented on the Canaries since 2000 make shopping here a delight. Instead of the usual 20–23% VAT you only pay a sales tax of 5%. This is the perfect place to buy some wares that are usually too expensive for you. There are sales seasons in February and July that provide even more opportunities to purchase a lot for a small price.
I hope that, after reading my article, you’ve already started searching for tickets to come and see the incredible paradise island called Tenerife with your own eyes.