Tenerife, the third largest of the Canary Islands is the perfect destination for a family break or a relaxing holiday for two. A short flight from the UK rewards visitors to Tenerife’s popular resorts with long, sandy beaches, near constant warm sunshine, masses of affordable accommodation and enough restaurants, bars, clubs, shops and entertainments to fill a lifetime of holidays.
Not all of Tenerife’s attractions are modern and purpose-built though. Beyond the waterparks, crazy golf courses and disco-bars of the resorts a different island awaits those willing to explore beyond the environs of the beach. Formed from volcanic eruptions, Tenerife is blessed with landscapes of outstanding beauty, secluded mountain villages, a spectacular national park and other natural and historic wonders to discover. Here are five of the best natural sights to be found in Tenerife.
Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide
Wander through a magical volcanic landscape dominated by the vast Mount Teide; Spain’s highest peak. Don’t worry – the six-hour guided walking tour to the top isn’t compulsory; instead take the cable-car which will transport you close to the mouth of the volcano and from your vantage point above the clouds you can view the lunar landscape in all its panoramic glory. The fertile volcanic soil encourages a number of wildflower species and the national park is also home to a number of endemic bird and reptile species. Whilst Mount Teide is still an active volcano there’s no need to panic unduly about being swept away in a sea of lava – the last recorded eruption occurred in 1909.
The Masca Ravine
As far removed from the bustle and noise of the Playas, the Masca Ravine offers solitude and natural beauty and the perfect opportunity for a soul-lifting hike in sunkissed mountainous surroundings. Just getting to the village of Masca is an experience in itself thanks to Tenerife’s narrow and winding mountain roads, but from here a rocky, descending mountain trail takes you down into the ravine and eventually (after three to four hours) emerges at the coast. Soaring towers of rock and native date palms are just some of the sights that will have you reaching for your camera on this popular walking route – just remember to swap your flip-flops for decent walking shoes.
Playa de Benijo
Tucked away high in the north western corner of Tenerife you’ll find a few beaches such as Playa de Benijo that appear to have been untouched by human hand or the march of time. No development, few tourists and the (very) occasional beach bar or restaurant provide a beautiful and serene beach hideaway for modern-day Robinson Crusoes. The seas here are wild and unpredictable which makes bathing inadviseable but if you love scenic walks, beachcombing or just want a bit of privacy in which to brush up on your kite boarding skills, the sheltered bay of Playa de Benijo is the perfect location, and you’ll struggle to find a more beautiful Tenerife sunset.
Punta de Teno
If you’re feeling a little adventurous the trip to Punta de Teno at Tenerife’s westernmost tip will reward you breathtaking cliff views, a black-sanded beach and crystal blue waters. The wild and rocky shoreline explains the presence of Punta de Teno’s pretty lighthouse and whilst getting here may be slightly ‘challenging’ the coastal panoramas, bracing ocean air and that feeling that you’ve reach the end of the earth make the journey worthwhile.
Cueva del Viento
The thing about volcanic islands is that a lot of the action takes place underground, and Tenerife is no exception. Formed a mere 27,000 years ago the Cueva del Viento (‘cave of the wind’) is part of an underground network of tunnels naturally formed by lava flows, and at eighteen kilometres in length is one of the longest examples of this natural phenomenon in the world. Still in the process of being fully explored the Cueva del Viento presents an incredible subterranean world of stalactites, lava flows, fossils and geological formations. For anyone who may have overindulged in their exposure to the sun, a journey into the fascinating cave structures that sit beneath Mount Teide could prove to be the most enjoyable and memorable aspect of your Tenerife holiday.