The 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.
Dominated 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.
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.