Tenerife: An Adventurer’s Paradise

©istockphoto/RossHelenThe sun, surf, scenery and fas­ci­nat­ing wildlife that com­pris­es Tener­ife make it a favorite des­ti­na­tion of Euro­pean trav­el­ers. The adven­ture oppor­tu­ni­ties on the island also make it a one-stop buck­et list des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple across the globe who like to play hard in the outdoors.

The Island of Eter­nal Spring
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tener­ife is locat­ed on a Span­ish arch­i­pel­ago off the south­west coast of Moroc­co and just west of West­ern Sahara. Tener­ife is wide­ly known as the For­tu­nate Isle or the Island of Eter­nal Spring; it catch­es an aver­age of eight hours a day of sun­shine through the year but is rarely oppres­sive­ly hot. The north of the island has slight­ly low­er tem­per­a­tures and occa­sion­al rain­fall in win­ter, but that’s also why it has a more trop­i­cal look than the desert south. Over­all, how­ev­er, tem­per­a­tures across the island fluc­tu­ate between 60 to 65 degrees Fahren­heit in win­ter, and 75 to 86 in summer.

This means that there is lit­er­al­ly no bad time to vis­it this sub­trop­i­cal par­adise. Flights are under 13 hours direct from New York, or under 4 hours from Lon­don. Be aware that while flights do tend to run cheap­er in the win­ter, that’s also when hotel demand and prices are at their high­est. In terms of weath­er, out­door adven­tur­ers will find Sep­tem­ber one of the most reli­able and least expen­sive months to visit.

©istockphoto/RAUL GARCIA GARCIADom­i­nat­ed by a Volcano
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tener­ife is bor­dered by mul­ti-col­ored beach­es (from soft gold to black vol­canic sand) and sand dunes, all dom­i­nat­ed by a 12,198-foot stra­to­vol­cano, Mt. Tei­de. Numer­ous pris­tine beach­es pro­vide habi­tats for sea tur­tles and entrance to more than 60 not­ed div­ing sites. The vol­cano’s summit—rising 24,000 feet from the ocean floor, it is the world’s third tallest volcano—towers over the mid­dle-south­west­ern half of the island, and serves as the cen­ter­piece of adven­tur­er for hik­ers, bik­ers and trail runners.

Trails, Cav­erns, Moun­tains, and Beach­es Galore
Beyond the beach­es and cav­erns, wind­surfers and kayak­ers explore Tenerife’s wild and pre­cip­i­tous coast­line. Cyclists tack­le long, wind­ing climbs and thrill-a-minute down­hills on roads or trails, north, and south.

The tem­per­ate weath­er is wide­ly known in cycling cir­cles, draw­ing road rac­ers to Tener­ife to train. Since all roads lead to the high­est point—the Nation­al Park vis­i­tor cen­ter at about 10,000 feet)—you can ride up Mt. Tei­de with a five to sev­en per­cent grade over the course of 36 miles, com­bin­ing both the upper and low­er slope in four to six hours (assum­ing you’re in train­ing shape). In fact, Mt. Tei­de serves as a high-alti­tude train­ing ground for many Tour de France con­tenders, includ­ing Bradley Wig­gins and Chris Froome, who count on its sta­ble spring weath­er and thin air to aid their train­ing and campaigns.

The moun­tain is also a holy grail to hik­ers who come to Tener­ife. But many also come to see and pho­to­graph the drag­on trees and ancient lau­rel forests. A Canary Island leg­end alleges that when drag­ons died, they became drag­on trees (Dra­cae­na dra­co), which are said to be one of the longest sur­viv­ing trees on the plan­et, capa­ble of with­stand­ing a wide diver­si­ty of cli­mate and weath­er. These liv­ing fos­sils, along with the lau­rel, are the flo­ra trea­sures of these islands. Hik­ers will not want to miss the 1,000-year-old drag­on tree in Icod de Los Vinos (it mea­sures 65 feet at the base and 56 feet tall) or the ancient lau­rel forests that fill in the spaces between the deep, knife-edge ridges, peaks and slopes around the Ana­ga Moun­tains in the north­east­ern part of the island.

©istockphoto/Fabian WentzelEnd­less Sights
Tener­ife trav­el­ers will also not want to miss Los Gigantes—the epony­mous giant cliffs—on the island’s west coast. Take a break and ride the cable car to the sum­mit of Mt. Tei­de for 360-degree views of the island, or slip into the lava-hewn rock pools of Garachico for a soak. Also con­sid­er a vis­it to La Lagu­na, a UNESCO World Her­itage Cen­tre site, with its fas­ci­nat­ing archi­tec­ture span­ning four centuries.

Aside from spec­tac­u­lar out­door adven­ture oppor­tu­ni­ties, the island has a vibrant, long-endur­ing cul­tur­al his­to­ry, world-class gas­tron­o­my (some say the world’s best and most pris­tine seafood), and a wide vari­ety of lodg­ing options includ­ing camp­grounds, Airbn­b’s, stu­dio apart­ments and 5‑star hotels.

And if you want to real­ly relax after a week of adven­ture, don’t miss the exquis­ite Playa Del Duque, on the Cos­ta Ade­je in south­ern Tener­ife. Kick back on a clean, vast beach, take a stroll or enjoy some tra­di­tion­al tapas at one of the restau­rants and cafés along the ele­gant prom­e­nade that fronts the length of the sand. The beach has a full range of facil­i­ties from chang­ing rooms to show­ers, ice-cream kiosks, and sunshades.

Tener­ife lit­er­al­ly has it all, all year round.