The Canary Islands are culturally and geographically Spanish, but these islands are all unique and each offers tourists a different flavor. The Canaries have long served as a retreat off the coast of Africa; a place for Europeans to enjoy respite. However, today they are able to stand alone as tourist destinations and trading meccas where visitors from around the world come specifically to enjoy the way of life here.
Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands. This is a classic tropical island where the climate is always spring-like. Mild, balmy air drifts across the shores and invites tourists to spend their time outdoors soaking up the warm, moist air and sunshine. Tenerife has fertile ground that is especially conducive to agriculture and botany. For that reason, you will find countless different types of plant life, fruits and vegetables growing all over the island. From its banana plantations to its lush tropical gardens to its rocky coast and dramatic cliffs, the natural elements of Tenerife will undoubtedly overwhelm your senses. Diversity is key to the island's scenic charm. You may spend the morning touring a humid botanical garden inland and the afternoon hiking in the cool wind along the stunning coast.
You will be amazed at the friendliness that this island exudes. The people of Tenerife are known for their eagerness to share their colorful culture and traditions with outsiders. It is not uncommon for locals to invite tourists to outdoor festivals and performances. And certainly, tourists are encouraged to participate in the festivities that happen year round. Music, dance, food and sporting events play into everyday life in a way that makes each moment here feel like a true tropical celebration.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships arriving in Tenerife dock at the Port of Santa Cruz on the island's northeast side. From there, the shopping district is close, and buses and taxis run frequently.
Taxis are a popular means of transportation throughout Tenerife. Buses (922/531-300) are the cheapest way to travel and do a surprisingly efficient job of getting from destination to destination. Both can be easily accessed on any main road.
Tourists exploring Tenerife will have no problem filling their time with exciting events. For nature enthusiasts, there is an abundance of opportunity to spend plenty of time outdoors. The Botanic Garden is a delightful place to start. Here you can walk through miles of exotic plant life and be engulfed by the stunning array of flowers and trees that grow here.
Those looking to snap the perfect picture will want to see the Teide Volcano. Now inactive, it serves as a towering monument above Tenerife's panorama. Spend the morning viewing the volcano and the afternoon at Icod de los Vinos, which lies right at the foot of Teide. Founded in 1501, this rustic garden offers wine tasting and an aura of relaxation that is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Enjoy nature and sip some local flavors as you tour the garden. Then, you can hike over for a picnic at nearby San Marcos Beach, where the sand is soft and the water is calm. This is not the place for water sports, but it is ideal for those hoping for a serene way to spend a few hours. The area surrounding San Marcos Beach is a hub of activity. Street performers dance in groups to popular local music, often played by a live band. Musicians play ukuleles that serve as a nice background for enjoying the arts and crafts fairs that are quite typical along the beach and adjacent streets. You can look at the assortment of local pottery and the unique form of basket weaving that artisans produce and display here. Palm leaves are woven together to make beautiful baskets, and wood carvers are always creating delicate objects as well.
Tourists, children especially, will love the Cosmos Museum, which is home to an extraordinary planetarium and astronomy gallery. This is a hands-on museum where visitors are encouraged to touch and explore the exhibits, to use the telescopes on display, and to learn by doing.
Beaches and Sports
Playa de Las Américas, on the southeastern tip of Tenerife is the most beautiful beach on the island. White sands, crystal blue water and warm air abound as beach goers bask in the sun. Athletes and adventurers can also have some fun windsurfing, water skiing, and scuba diving. The Aqua Marina Dive Center (Local 249A, Centro Commercial, 922/797-944) on Playa de Las Americas is home to some of the Canary Island's most expert dive instructors. Lessons are available, as is equipment.
Golfers flock to Golf las Américas (Playa de las Américas, 922/752-005) to tee off on the spectacular 18-hole course that the club offers. Tee times are usually booked at least a week in advance, so make arrangements before you visit.
Shoppers will be in heaven here because there are no customs barriers. Tax-free shopping awaits you all over this island, making the already reasonably priced goods real bargains. Negotiating prices with street vendors is a tradition here, and tourists are encouraged to barter. The streets are lined with silk shops, ivory merchants, and art retailers that will amaze even a seasoned shopper. Go to Alimpex (Calle 303 N1, 922/216-900) for local clothing and gorgeous apparel.
Dining and Nightlife
Seafood is top notch in Tenerife, and visitors will experience an incredible selection of fruits and vegetables grown locally as well. Steak lovers should not miss Churrasqueria Rodeo (Urbinizacion Playa Fañabe 35, Playa de las Américas, 922/713-255). This is a traditional steak house that boasts of having the most generous and succulent red meat on the island. Seafood lovers can also order from a variety of crab, lobster, and other types of fish.