At the start of February we decided we needed to escape the endless cycle of rain, sleet and snow and head to sunnier climes. We wanted to visit the Canary Islands, having never been and hearing good things about the winter weather, and finally decided on a trip through Thomson to Tenerife. The chance to go to the top of a volcano, Mt Teide, was also a pretty strong influencing factor for me!
We stayed in Playa de la Arena, about an hours transfer from Tenerife South Airport and just along the coast from Los Gigantes. Our hotel was absolutely enormous, in many small blocks and several pools, bars, restaurants, entertainment halls, mini golf, high ropes… the list goes on. One thing I hadn’t really anticipated was just quite how touristy the area was going to be. I purposefully chose a hotel away from the tourist central to the South, but even so nearly every building was a hotel. But Playa de la Arena was a nice little town with lots of shops and beach with the natural black volcanic sand (some beaches have white sand imported, which I think is a shame really).
The Thomson rep at the hotel was great and we quickly booked onto several excursions. One was to the neighbouring island of La Gomera which is what I imagine Tenerife was like before it got too touristy. We could see La Gomera from our hotel so it was great to go over there. Being mainly agriculture and forests which survive because the top of the island is always covered in mist, La Gomera is a lot greener than it’s neighbour.
We visited several villages and learned a lot about the local culture. We also visited a fantastic restaurant where the local whistling language was demonstrated. In a similar way to yodeling this ancient method of communication was used to pass messages across the mountains on the island. Agriculture consisted of mainly bananas, potatoes and tomatoes, and a few goats. There are around six cattle on the island.
Another great trip was Flipper Uno – dolphin watching from a pirate ship under the huge cliffs of Los Gigantes. We were told that these cliffs are the second biggest in the world, after only the Grand Canyon, while we ate paella, drank wine, admired the scenery and watched dolphins swim around the boat.
On our last full day on the island we booked a trip up Mt Teide. We had managed to catch a glimpse of the 3,718m high summit from the aeroplane as we flew in, but for the rest of the week it had hidden behind the clouds. The National Park was like another world, and definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately there had been snow overnight and the top was very icy, so the cable cars to the top weren’t running. This was a shame as I’d been looking forward to going to the top of the volcano for months, so I would definitely be making the trip again if I go back!
We did so much in our week long visit, I’ve hardly mentioned half of it here and there are so many things on the island that didn’t get a look in, so in my opinion Tenerife is really worth a visit. The only thing I would change? More sunshine!