Top Ten-erife Fountains

With heatwave after heatwave hitting the island this summer, there’s nothing quite like the sight and sound of a fresh, bubbling fountain to give you the illusion of cool, and Tenerife just happens to have a penchant for the elaborate wet stuff. From traffic roundabouts to shopping centres and city parks to pavements, here’s Tenerife Magazine’s pick of some of the island’s most eye-catching fountains.

The Bathers ““ Costa del Silencio

The Bathers Fountain, Costa del Silencio

You’ve got to love something as quirky and surreal as these bathers in their swimming pool in a location as mundane as a Costa del Silencio shopping centre. Sporting their eclectic head and eye wear while twirling and scanning the sky for, who knows what ““ UFOs I suspect, they’re quite possibly the coolest fountain on Tenerife.

Fecundidad ““ Santa Cruz

Fecundidad fountain, Parque Garcia Sanabria, Santa Cruz

Idly bathing her feet while rainbows dance around her plump knees, the voluptuous Fecundidad in Parque Garcia Sanabria seems oblivious to the public gaze of her private ritual. Unassuming and serene, she’s an enduring icon of the city.

Plaza España ““ Santa Cruz

Plaza España, Santa Cruz

From the centre of a placid lake of deepest blue, a single perpendicular needle of water shoots heavenwards; it’s a geometric work of water art. We just wish they’d keep the damn thing filled because when it’s empty, it’s nothing more than a concrete bowl.

Lago Martiánez ““ Puerto de la Cruz

Fountain, Lago Martianez, Puerto de la Cruz

Turning illusion of cool into reality, this fountain in its César Manrique-designed home of Lago Martiánez provides a stylish and invigorating exfoliant to bathers by day and morphs into a burning island in a pirate lagoon by night.

Los Cristianos

Fountain, Los Cristianos

The Cristiano Ronaldo in our decorative outpourings is the elaborately, show-off centrepiece of the busy roundabout that heralds your arrival in Los Cristianos. Unfortunately, due to the current water shortage, it was hiding its watery light under a dry bushel when we captured this image so if anyone has a photo of it in action that they’d like to share…

Safari Centre ““ Playa de Las Américas

Dancing Fountain, Safari Centre, Playa de Las Américas

The Vegas-style performance of the coloured dancing fountain which graces the designer labels and bistro bars of the Safari Centre has become something of a tourist attraction. I don’t think Siam Park really needs to worry but, hey, it’s nice.

Parque Santiago IV ““ Costa Adeje

Fountain, Parque Santiago IV, Playa de Las Américas

The Johnny-come-lately of our gushing collection is this rather elegant and understated piece of fountain art outside the Parque Santiago IV. Having it at ground zero makes it all the more accessible for everyone, although signs make it very clear you’re not allowed to play in it. Spoilsports.

Plaza Adelantado ““ La Laguna

Fountain, Plaza Adelantado, La Laguna

Time to introduce a bit of class to this motley spouting selection, with the marble fountain from Plaza Adelantado in La Laguna. Dating from 1870, the marble reflects the sunlight off the water in mesmerizing patterns and the detail in the carving is superb, but best of all, it tinkles just like a fountain should.

Princesa Dacíl ““ La Orotava

Princesa Dacíl fountain/fuente, La Orotava

Say hello to the ethnic addition to our eclectic ten. Sited at the entrance to Tenerife’s most aristocratic town, this is the Guanche Princess Dacíl and at her feet is the Guanche symbol of fertility, Tara.

Fuente La Alhóndiga ““ Tacoronte

Fuente La Alhóndiga, Tacoronte

A bit like Plaza España, this beauty is unfortunately often left dry but when the hoses have been in action and the water rises, it brings a whole new aspect to the 17th century, former grain store of Casa La Alhóndiga. Loving its contemporary simplicity.


Top Ten Things to do on Tenerife at Christmas

Forget the fact that Tenerife is a subtropical island off the coast of Africa. Forget the fact that the sun is shining, there are palm trees and you’re wearing T-shirt and shorts. There’s plenty of festive fun to be had during Christmas on Tenerife.

If you happen to be on holiday on Tenerife you can escape the frantic Christmas crowds at home but still enjoy a magical Christmas atmosphere. Here are our top 10 things to do at Christmas on Tenerife.

Pig out on Turrón
This scrumptious cake borne from a grand romantic gesture is only found on supermarket shelves on Tenerife at Christmas (well…until stocks run out). It is sinfully good especially when paired with a cup of coffee. There are oodles of different varieties to choose from, but the original almond, sugar, honey and egg yema tostada is still the best.

Slip on some Sexy Red Underwear
Apparently it’s good luck to see in the New Year wearing red underwear (it doesn’t say anywhere it has to be sexy, but ‘slip on some plain red underwear’ just doesn’t sound the same). Two conditions for guaranteeing good luck for the coming year is that the red underwear has to be new and also that it’s a present. Who knows how many people follow this tradition; it’s a difficult one to research ““ ‘excuse me, what colour is your underwear?’ is more likely to result in a slap than an answer.

Enjoy a Sparkling Christmas
The Christmas street decorations in some of Tenerife’s towns make a visit after dark an enchanting experience. Some of the resorts put on decent displays but to walk the cobbled historic streets in la Laguna and La Orotava after dark evokes warm and fuzzy memories of childhood Christmases.

There’s usually a popular musical at the Tenerife Auditorium Adán Martín and this year it’s The Sound of Music. Actually it’s the Spanish version Sonrisas y Lagrimas, so the music might sound familiar but the words might not; somehow ‘Doh a cierva’ just wouldn’t seem right. Possibly a better option is the free open air Christmas Day classical concert in Santa Cruz.

Eat Early on Christmas Eve
This applies more if you’re in a traditional town on Tenerife where every Canarian restaurant shuts early on Christmas Eve so that families can enjoy their big Christmas dinner together.
Of course if you’re one of those people who eat their dinner in the middle of the afternoon (around 6pm) then it won’t be a problem.

Forget Santa Claus and Cheer on the Three Kings
There’s no big portly guy squeezing down chimneys here. Tenerife’s version, like the rest of Spain, is the Tres Reyes (Three Kings) who pay a visit to Tenerife’s towns on the evening of the 5th January to bestow gifts on the children. Lots of towns on Tenerife have Tres Reyes parades, in some the kings arrive on camels. The tradition makes a lot more sense than the whole Santa Claus deal.

Let Them Eat Cake
It’s traditional to eat Roscón de Reyes (the Kings” Cake) on Tres Reyes (6th January) but you can buy these throughout the Christmas period on Tenerife. Riscón de Reyes is a wreath shaped bready cake topped by candied fruit. It used to be traditional to put a dried bean and a figurine in the cake mix. Whoever got the figure was made honorary king for the day and the person who got the bean had to fork out for the cake (approx €8). Last time I tried Roscón de Reyes I got the bean, so I haven’t bothered since (you can take the boy out of Scotland but…).

Build a Snowman
Honestly, this is a popular local tradition if we get enough of the white stuff on Mount Teide. But on Tenerife there’s a bit of a difference. You build the snowman on the bonnet of your car and then try to make it to the coast before the snowman completely melts…and without crashing because you can’t see as you’ve got a snowman on your bonnet.

Check out the Beléns
These nativity scenes found everywhere on Tenerife (town halls, shop windows, hotels) can be incredibly detailed with intricate moving parts. Adults and children love them, especially when they spot el caganer ““ the guy who always gets ‘caught short” out in the open.

Sunbathe on Christmas Day
If you haven’t done it before, there’s something bizarre about lounging about on the beach in your swimwear on Christmas Day, especially if there’s snow on Mount Teide and it’s a white Christmas on Tenerife.

¡Feliz Navidad a Todos!


Top Ten Picturesque Towns on Tenerife

As it’s a mere 500 years or so since the conquest of Tenerife, the island doesn’t boast the sort of architecture or sense of history found in those magical medieval towns in mainland Spain. But neither is it only made up of modern, purpose-built tourist resorts younger than a good majority of the people who drink from their pleasure fountains (that’s bars just in case I was being too flowery).

There are plenty of towns across the island that boast picturesque quarters and charming old streets filled with lovely examples of colonial architecture. These are ten of the most picturesque to be found on Tenerife.

Tenerife’s unluckiest town (volcanic eruption, plagues, floods…) is also possibly its prettiest. The area around the Plaza de la Libertad is especially photogenic and the bandstand kiosk is ideal for soaking up the scenery ““ as well as a cerveza.

La Orotava
A town of two halves; one bustling and functional, the other filled with elegant town houses, exquisite gardens and grand churches. The town’s hidden courtyards are filled with surprises including peacocks, the Tin Man and effeminate Guanches.

La Laguna
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Laguna’s old quarter looks as delicious after dark as it does during daylight hours. This is the place to come for churches, museums, art exhibitions and… salt cod, found piled high in the farmers” market.

Any list of picturesque towns on Tenerife has to include the sensational scenery of Masca. Some call it Tenerife’s Shangri-La, others Tenerife’s Machu Picchu. I call it murder on the thighs after you’ve walked the Masca Barranco and back.

Spain’s highest village has a ‘fresh as the morning dew’, alpine-esque atmosphere which is aided and abetted by the fact that it’s located in the middle of the pine forest. It’s a peach of a location until low cloud rolls through the streets turning it into Silent Hill.

Santiago del Teide
Apart from the Señorio del Valle Visitors” Centre and the church there aren’t really any attractive old buildings, yet Santiago del Teide has an unmistakeable charm. It even gets away with having a cheesy horse outside one of its restaurants.

Icod de los Vinos
Most people think only of the Millennium Drago when thinking of Icod, but head upwards and away from the tree and there are some lovely old parts to be explored, and there’s another drago. These are mostly overlooked by visitors as to explore them requires negotiation of streets so steep that if you lean back you’ll topple over.

Arico Nuevo
The secret gem of the south (-ish) of Tenerife. A sweet and immaculate little village of higgledy-piggledy architecture where you’re as likely to meet a praying mantis as another tourist. Walking around it can feel as though you’re trespassing on private property.

Los Silos
This bohemian little town near Garachico is home to a fairy-tale church and a storytelling festival. The streets are too narrow for excursion coaches, so it remains a hidden treat for independent explorers.

Buenavista del Norte
Another pick in the north west of Tenerife. It’s no coincidence that the furthest places from the airports have remained relatively undeveloped and therefore retained more olde Tenerife charm; you’ll still occasionally see caballeros tether their horses outside bars here. Apart from its pretty plaza there’s a picnic zone hidden in a ravine in the centre of the town ““ a perfect place for pigging out on sinful goodies from the town’s chocolate factory.

Although these are my pick of Tenerife’s picturesque towns there are quite a few other locations that could easily have made the list. Feel free to add your own favourites.


Top Ten-erife Ways to Beat the Crowds

It’s August, the sun is high and Tenerife is experiencing its peak holiday season with many Spanish mainlanders enjoying island hospitality. Although it means the island is full of life and there’s a non-stop buzz, it also means that you can find yourself standing in queues or elbowing for space. We’ve come up with a few hints and tips to help you avoid the worst of the crowds but we’d love to hear if you have more to share…

1. Fast track to fun at Siam Park
In peak summer, everyone heads to Siam Park to keep their cool and have fun in the sun. If you want to avoid spending most of your visit in queues, here’s what to do:
Pre-book your tickets online and get there early ““ gates open at 10am so get there by 9.15am and use the pre-paid queues on left and right. If you’re not bothered about buying the cheesy photo, give the photo queue a wide berth. Shell out for the fast track wristband (€10 per person) ““ it’s not cheap but you can whizz up the inside track of slides which means more rides and better value for your ticket price.

2. Miss the mob at Masca
Tenerife’s second most visited location becomes a picturesque parking lot between 11am and 4pm when the coach tours and jeep safaris descend. Get there earlier or later than the tours or on Fridays to have the place to yourself ““ well, relatively speaking.

3. Picnic in peace and quiet
When weekend comes around the Tinerfeños head to the woods in their droves to enjoy some al fresco dining. Escape the heat and the crowds by heading up into one of Tenerife’s picnic zones mid-week. You might have to go au natural when it comes to toilets as they’re often only open at weekends but it does mean you’ll only have to share the woods with the teddy bears.

4. Give the shopping crowds the slip
Summer sales are still in swing on Tenerife and although stores in the capital of Santa Cruz and in most major commercial centres now stay open all day, the Spanish still tend to take the siesta from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Avoid the crowds by choosing those times to give your credit card some exercise.

5. Lunch at leisure
Once again the Spanish and Tinerfeño habits work in Brits” favour during the summer months. The Spanish like to eat their lunch late (2pm-3pm) and take their time over it as this is their main meal. Head to lunch early and you’ll avoid the wait for a table at your favourite restaurant. It also means you’ll be ready for an early dinner and thus avoid the crowds again as the Spanish tend to eat after 9.30pm.

6. Chill out in the country
Inevitably, school holidays mean families de-camping to the beach in their droves where sand castles and paddling are the order of the day. If you’re not in the family way, why not escape the coastal crowds and head into Tenerife’s rural heartland. Towns and villages like Adeje, Santiago del Teide and San Miguel de Abona offer a very different face of Tenerife and a characterful bolt hole from the hordes.

7. Move away from the mêlée in Teide National Park
Tenerife’s number one day tripper destination, stick with the tour groups in Teide National Park and you’ll feel more herded than your average heifer. Break out on your own down any of the multitudes of paths that run from the visitor centre and the Parador and you’ll discover why they use this place to test equipment for Mars exploration equipment. Barring little green men, you’ll be alone in surreal land.

8. Side-swerve Sundays
In Britain, there’s nothing like the call of empty Sunday roads to choose to take a run out into the country. On Tenerife Sunday feels like the busiest road day of the week when extended families take to their vehicles in their multitudes to visit kith and kin or to enjoy the Sunday picnic. If you’re planning to explore Tenerife by car, choose any day but Sunday.

9. Banish the beach crowds
There are three things about the beach habits of the Spanish that it’s well worth knowing if you want to bag your bit of beach in high season. Firstly they tend to shun the use of sun loungers in favour of the sand and an umbrella, secondly they don’t do long walks to the sea and will perch as close as they can to the water’s edge without actually getting their towels wet and thirdly they don’t do early morning beach. By now you’ll have worked this one out for yourself…go early and grab a sun lounger at the back of the beach.

10. Cheat the Cable Car Queues
Taking the cable car to within 200 metres of the summit of Spain’s highest mountain and the planet’s third highest volcano is a must-see experience but it can be ruined by having to stand in a queue for hours to get there. If you’ve got you’re own wheels, get to the cable car station by 8.30am and you’ll be seeing satellite views of the archipelago before you can say “wasn’t this a good idea”. Better still, book a night at the Parador where you can have the whole incredible crater to yourself overnight and still get to the cable car before everyone else.


Top Ten-erife Ways to Keep Cool

With thermometers nudging the high 30s on Tenerife for the past week or so, it’s a good time to take a look at some favourite ways to keep cool in the tropical heat.

1. Visit a Water Theme Park
The most fun way to keep your cool on Tenerife is to spend the day at Siam Park where the sweat you work up waiting in line will rapidly dissipate as you hit the water from the terrifying heights of the Tower of Power, hurtle along the Mekong Rapids or enter the vortex of the Dragon.

2. Dive into the Sea
With so many great dive sights around Tenerife, it’s worth donning the leather and lead and reaching almost boiling point before diving beneath the waves for the delicious cool of the depths. Also, it’s very James Bond to emerge from the water, unzip your wetsuit and stride up the beach, provided of course you’ve got a body like Daniel Craig or Halle Berry.

3. Strip off at a Nudist Beach
There’s nothing quite like feeling the breeze in places it doesn’t normally visit to lower the body heat, especially if you head to El Médano’s nudist beaches of La Tejita or La Pelada where the breeze can be of gale force power. Just be prepared to pay a visit to chafe city when you also get sand in places it doesn’t normally visit.

4. Drink a Cocktail
Find yourself a nice shady table at one of Tenerife’s stylish bars and order yourself a long, cool cocktail. Try a zingy, refreshing Mojito or a tangy Mai Tai to bring the temperature down from the inside out or sip a Black Russian through a straw before seeing the day out with a Tequila Sunrise. By that time you’ll be impervious to everything, including the heat.

5. Visit the Botanical Gardens
It’s not until you’ve reached the gates of the incredible Botanical Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz in blinding heat, and then stepped into the delicious cool of its canopy that you realise how incredibly efficient Mother Nature is at keeping her cool. Giant strelitzas, towering palm trees and leaves the size of festival tents all conspire to produce an air conditioned jungle.

6. Take a Shady Stroll
Escape the heat of the coast and head up into the interior to find natural shade and the pure scent of pine on dappled forest trails. There are loads of paths to choose from which will take you through spectacular landscapes with stunning coastal views and if you choose wisely, will end at a bar where you can reward yourself with a cold Dorada ““ bliss.

7. Get Soaked by a Whale
Spend a day at Loro Parque where, not only can you visit Europe’s largest artificial iceberg and watch jealously as the penguins sit beneath their snow shower, but you can also grab one of the front rows for the Orca Show. You’ll be issued with waterproof aprons but they’ll prove useless as around 6 tons of Orca hits the water and displaces most of it over you.

8. Go underground
It’s a well known fact that the ambient temperature in caves is the same year-round, so do what The Jam did in 1980 and head to the outskirts of Icod de los Vinos and the 27,000 year old Cueva Del Viento volcanic tube. And while you’re keeping your cool, remember to duck or you just might lose your head in there.

9. Swim in Lago Martiánez
It’s a strange phenomenon, but whatever the time of year and no matter how broiling the temperatures get, the lake at Lago Martiánez in Puerto de la Cruz always stays several degrees colder than the Atlantic Ocean. But when you’ve been slowly tanning on the terraces of this iconic swimming pool complex like a chicken on a spit, it’s as refreshing as a cold shower.

10. Go Dolphin Watching
When the sand’s so hot it burns your feet through your flip flops, there’s only one thing left to do; jump ship and catch a sea breeze while you cruise the waters off the western coast for sight of a dolphin pod. Watching these magnificent creatures as they glide their silver bodies through the surf is one of the coolest things to do on the planet.


Top Ten-erife Useful Spanish Phrases

Although the ability to speak the lingo when holidaying, or indeed living, on Tenerife ““ particularly in the main resorts of the island – has never been a major handicap, nevertheless, a little Spanish can go a long way.

Here’s Tenerife Magazine’s guide to some of the most useful phrases to have in your vocabulary, or how to sound more Spanish – savvy than you are.

1. Claro ““ a multi functional phrase meaning ‘clearly/indeed/of course’, this verbal equivalent of a head nod will hold you in good stead for most conversations.
2. Si, si, si ““ uttered in rapid fire, multi succession, the simple ‘yes” is the most Spanish of phrases.
3. Vale (pronounced ‘ballet”) ““ meaning ‘okay’ this one’s used in Spanish every bit as much as its English equivalent and will get you out of many tight spots. Just be careful you’re not agreeing to anything you may regret later.

These three phrases alone are enough to have you passing as a Spanish speaker. When someone starts chatting to you, just throw a vale, a few si,si,si‘s and the occasional claro into the conversation and you could easily be mistaken for fluent.

4. Mas o menos ““ meaning “More or less”, mas o menos is as much a mantra as a phrase and sums up the Canario approach to many aspects of life. Spoken without pronouncing the ‘s” and accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders, this will not only get you passing for a Spanish speaker, but a Canario at heart.
5. Buenos días, buenas tardes, buenas noches ““ ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening and night” ““ As the line between días and tardes is a very mas o menos affair which has nothing to do with midday and may fall anywhere between 1.30pm and 3pm, it’s easiest to adopt the Tenerife way of merging all three into a single ‘buenas‘ and dumping the watch altogether.

6. Guapa/guapo (pronounced wappa/wappo) ““ meaning ‘beautiful’ and ending with an ‘a’ for females and an ‘o’ for males, this handy little phrase will get you uttering small talk on everything from the weather to a hunk of gorgeousness passing by. Just say ¡que guapa! and pick up your membership card to Tinerfeño society.
7. Jarra/caña (pronounced hara/canya) ““ essential vocabulary for anyone who enjoys a drop of draught amber nectar after a hard day on the beach, a jarra is the local vernacular for a large beer and a caña is a small beer. Just don’t try using it when you head to Torremolinos in summer or you might end up with a jug full of beer. On the other hand…

8. La cuentita (pronounced kwen-tee-ta) ““ a handy one to have at the end of your restaurant meal, this literally means ‘the small bill’, as opposed to the full-sized one. It’s always worth asking for this, if nothing else it”ll usually raise a smile and it might just get you a free shot of honey rum with la cuenta.
9. Encantado/a, mucho gusto ““ the Spanish equivalent of ‘nice to meet you’. If someone says encantado/a to you, you should respond with mucho gusto and vice versa. And don’t forget the double cheek kiss which accompanies it, preferably not delivered by the typical British body language equivalent of an ironing board at the blatant invasion of private space by a complete stranger. When in Spain…
10. ¡Mi madre/Dios mío! – uttered whilst grasping the general area of your heart or making the sign of the cross, these are two typical expressions of utter dismay, ‘oh Mother and My God!’ Particularly useful when bartering over a new pair of Ray-Bans or when la cuentita is brought.


Top Ten-erife Holiday Buys

With luggage allowances at a premium, why waste space on fake watches that will stop the minute your aircraft wheels leave the runway? Here’s our pick of the best buys to squeeze into the suitcase at the end of your holidays to Tenerife

1. Tobacco. If there’s one place where hoping to give up smoking while on holiday is probably a non-starter, it’s Tenerife. As a VAT-free island, the dreaded weed is a fraction of UK prices. Don’t wait until you get to the airport to stock up, you’ll pay way more than in any local supermarket or in resort shops.

2. Alcohol. That absence of VAT on Tenerife means that all the vices are at irresistibly affordable prices and with supermarkets allocating as many aisles to alcohol as they do to food, readily available in all flavours and sizes. Opt for the local brands if you really want to win the cheapskate prize but be prepared to pay a dividend in hangovers.

3. Perfume. There’s that “we’re a tax-free island” bonus raising its pretty head again…without which the price of wafting Dior, Chanel and Versace in your wake falls distinctly into the affordable bracket. Again, don’t wait until you get to the airport to buy, you can test to your heart’s content in any number of hyper stores and leave everyone in close proximity with a headache and a slightly nauseous feeling.

4. Cheese. Tenerife produces award winning goat’s cheeses and it’s worth testing out a few during your stay and bagging a block to take home. You can buy fresco (fresh), ahumado (smoked), semi-curado and curado (cured) with fresco being the mildest and curado having definite cheese attitude. The biggest trophy cabinet belongs to Arico smoked which is considered one of the top twelve cheeses in the world by people who know about these things ““ presumably Wallace and Gromit.

5. Shoes. Leather has always been a good buy in Spanish territories and Tenerife is no exception. With eternal summer on the beaches, it’s a great place to stock up on your summer sandal collection. If you really want to play Carrie Bradshaw to your friends at home, check out the nearest branch of Pécas for incredible styles that you won’t find in the UK.

6. Honey. Look for the “Miel de Tenerife’ label and grab yourself a jar of Winnie The Pooh’s favourite supper. Mobile hives are transported to allow their little furry workers to feast on such delicacies as avocado blossom and tajinaste which results in some 15 varieties of truly excellent honey.

7. Miel de Palma/Palm Honey. Okay, I know it’s technically honey but… it’s derived from an entirely different source and it tastes more like toffee syrup, so it’s getting a separate listing ““ bite me. Produced from the sap of Gomeran date palms and distilled into a rich, dark syrup, Miel de Palma has been produced for over 500 years. Completely natural, filled with minerals and high in nutritional value, drizzle it to turn a bowl of vanilla ice cream into a dessert to die for; Greek yoghurt into the food of the Gods and goat’s cheese into seventh heaven.

8. Mojos. Having spent your holiday dipping your papas arrugadas into the delicious tangy red and green mojos that are served in Canarian restaurants, you can buy lots of little sets to take home and smear on your chips.

9. Coffee. Extremely good value compared to UK prices, the Spanish addiction to strong coffee translates into dozens of varieties, some of which have packaging that will get you arrested by the political correctness party just for having it in your suitcase.

10. Turrón. Made from a base of almonds and honey and available in a dizzying range of flavours, the enduring favourite is yema tostada. A seasonal goodie, turrón is only on sale a couple of months either side of Christmas so if you see it, grab a slab and when you’re back home, pop a slice onto the saucer and turn your morning coffee break into a Tenerife daydream.


Top Ten-erife Days Out

Tenerife may be one of the world’s most popular winter sun getaways, but when the novelty of lying half naked on the beach while the folks back home are shivering in their boots wears off, where can you go to see something more than sun, sand, sea and theme parks? Our advice is to sort yourself out some Tenerife car hire and check out these fabulous days out…

1. Teide National Park – if the only place you’ve seen Mount Teide is through the window of your aircraft as you arrive and depart the island, then you’re missing one of the most spectacular landscapes on earth.

2. Masca ““ whatever you’ve read in the brochures or heard from the tour reps, it still won’t prepare you for the wow factor you’ll experience as you enter this lost paradise nestling amongst colossal peaks on the edge of the world.

3. Garachico ““ the little town that fought its way out from under a volcanic eruption to provide amazing rock pools where you can swim with tropical fish, the prettiest plaza on Tenerife and more picturesque scenes than you can point a camera at.

4. La Orotava ““ stretch the thigh muscles on a stroll around Tenerife’s most aristocratic town to uncover stunning island architecture, beautiful parks and gardens and excellent souvenir shopping in the town that gives us streets paved with petals.

5. Candelaria ““ the spiritual heart of the Canary Islands, pilgrims travel on foot and on their knees to worship at the feet of the Black Madonna. Luckily, buses also run from all over the island to transport you to the bronze icons of a forgotten era.

6. Santa Cruz ““ When its streets aren’t filled with the semi-naked women, drag queens and Maquinería bands of Carnaval, they’re home to museums, art galleries, splendid architecture and pretty plazas spread around the island’s best shopping and bordering a busy cruise liner port.

7. Santiago del Teide – travel into the rural heartland for a Tenerife a million miles away from its popular travel brochure image. Riding stables, picnics under the eucalyptus trees, a beautifully restored country house and unspoilt beauty await.

8. La Laguna ““ pack an umbrella and goad the rain gods with a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tenerife’s former capital city. Beautifully restored mansions and monasteries span five centuries and they have one of the best farmer’s markets on the island.

9. Icod de los Vinos ““ with a pedestrianised street lined with pavement cafes and boutiques, a splendid church square and a butterfly farm, there’s more to Icod than just dragon trees, volcanic tubes and Jackass antics.

10. Vilaflor – climb up into the pine forest where thermal spas and fir trees create a landscape more akin to an alpine village than Spain’s highest, and try to resist the urge to yodel.


Top Ten-erife Tapas

There are many versions of how tapas came to be in existence, from the humble need to keep flies off wine glasses by placing a slice of cheese or ham over as a lid (tapa), to the much more complex but highly plausible reason for its emergence as a result of law evasion in 16th and 17th century Seville.
But whatever its origins, in regions where the climate is often not conducive to large plates groaning with food, the pre or post-siesta enjoyment of a tipple with tapas has now become a Spanish institution.

Originally, every bar owner developed a single speciality tapa which gave rise to the tapeo (tapas bar crawl) which today has found new life under the guise of tapas routes. But today most bars and restaurants have a whole menu of tapas, entrantes or raciones to tickle the taste buds.
Some tapas dishes such as ensaladilla (Russian salad) and boquerónes (pickled anchovies) are fairly universally evident on menus throughout Spain, but every region has its own specialities based on local ingredients and the Canary Islands are no exception. Travel to Gran Canaria, La Palma or La Gomera and you’ll find one or two dishes that you won’t see on Tenerife menus and vice versa.

These are the most popular Tenerife tapas:

1. Papas arrugadas con mojo ““ not just a tapas dish, but the preferred potato accompaniment to just about any Tinerfeño meal, the little salty, wrinkled potatoes with their spicy red and green sauces are as popular as sunshine.

2. Jamón Serrano ““ freshly sliced thin strips of cured ham are a constant crowd pleaser, particularly if accompanied by Manchego cheese. If you really want the best, push the tapas boat out and order Jamón Ibérico from the black-hooved, pata negra pig ““ guaranteed to send the taste buds into overdrive.

3. Chopitos ““ tiny, battered and deep fried squid which are compulsively more-ish. Even the littlest of fingers will help themselves to this tasty snack, as long as no-one mentions the word “squid”.
4. Churros de Pescado – another fishy speciality these goujons of cod are coated in a herby batter and fried to golden deliciousness. Fish fingers without the processing.
5. Queso a la Plancha ““ a thick slab of semi-cured goat’s cheese, lightly grilled so it just begins to melt and then drizzled in red and green mojos (sauces) and palm honey. I”M afraid diet sheets have no place on a tapas table.
6. Gambas al Ajillo ““ fat, juicy prawns sizzling in a clay pot of oil, chillies and garlic slices and the perfect accompaniment to dry, crusty bread and alioli (garlic mayonnaise). Definitely not one for a pre-first date lunch.
7. Tortilla Española ““ a staple of the tapas table and a good appetite queller, my preference is for a thin layer of alioli atop. Those with healthier appetites than mine order their tortilla in a bocadillo ““ the Spanish equivalent of a chip butty I guess.
8. Pimientos de Padrón ““ as much a game of chance as a tasty snack, one in ten of these rock salted peppers will blow your head off, the rest will just leave you licking your fingers.
9. Croquetas ““ fat little, sausage-shaped portions of fish or chicken in mashed potato and coated in breadcrumbs. Another ‘safe’ option for the youngest tapas triers at the table, provided the grown-ups don’t snaffle them all first.
10. Empanadas ““ little, Cornish pasty-shaped pies usually filled with a tuna, onion and pepper mix and shallow fried. Bite-sized, pastry delights that will have fellow diners pointing a finger and asking “who ate all the pies?”


Top Ten Reasons to Holiday on Tenerife

1. Fair weather friend
Well of course the weather’s the number one reason for throwing the bikini and factor 15 into a suitcase, perusing the Net for cheap flights to Tenerife and waving goodbye to the snowman.
Just four or so flying hours from the UK, who wouldn’t want to wiggle their toes in the warm sand, settle down beneath a palm tree with a good book and a long cocktail and exchange that milk bottle look for a healthy olive glow? It’s the single most common reason why millions of people choose to holiday in Tenerife ““ and who are we to argue with them?

2. One island, many holidays
Tenerife is such a microcosm of landscapes that it’s like visiting a dozen different holiday resorts in one. From beaches to picturesque villages, theme parks to green parks and sandy shores to mountain highs you can find every type of holiday experience in less than 800 square miles of tropical paradise.

3. Swing into Action
On Tenerife you can pretty much guarantee that there’ll be at least one championship golf course basking in sunshine every single day of the year, and what’s more, there won’t be any earache from the other half. Golf widows can retire to the beaches of Playa de Las Américas, Costa Adeje and Las Galletas or indulge themselves in top notch hotels while their other halves pander to their favourite obsession.

4. A Taste of the Good Life
Eating out on Tenerife is still an affordable luxury and although blackboards advertising All Day British Breakfast still abound in some resorts, those with a more refined palate may be gastronomically surprised. From chic city dining to bijou resort bistros and five star hotel restaurants to gourmet secret gems ““ Tenerife restaurants are today’s special.

5. Holiday on another planet
There aren’t many places in the world where you can travel from snow topped mountain to sunbathing on the beach in less than two hours but Tenerife is one of them. Not just the icon of the archipelago and pride of Spain, Teide National Park is also the most amazing landscape you’re likely to encounter this side of a long weekend on the moon.

6. Party Dude
Ask anyone who lives here, one of the things the Tinerfeños do better than most is they know how to have a good time. From bar hopping in your resort to subjecting your senses to an all out assault at Europe’s biggest carnival, for those who enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of life, almost every night is party night on Tenerife.

7. Rural retreats
Tenerife can be many things to many people and while thrill seekers find pleasure in the theme parks and nightlife of the resorts, nature lovers can escape the noise and bustle of the world in Tenerife’s idyllic rural interior. Whether you’re a walker, a tent pitcher or an away-from-it-all junkie, there’s a rustic retreat with your name on it.

8. Sail away
Tenerife is a stepping stone to the Western Canary Islands of La Gomera, La Palma (above) and El Hierro, all of which are just a short sail and a million miles away from the tourism centres of Tenerife. For the price of one flight to Tenerife and a ferry ride, you can experience half an archipelago.

9. Dive in
Centuries of volcanic eruptions have formed a mysterious underwater world of basalt columns and silent caves ““ all of which are teeming with marine wildlife. Warm, deep waters close to shore provide some of Europe’s best diving for those with a penchant for rubber and air tanks.

10. Thar She Blows (Photo courtesy of Atlantic Whale Foundation)
Personally, I prefer my air supply limitless and am happy to watch the amazing creatures of the deep from the deck of a sailing ship. Bottle nosed dolphins, minke and sperm whale occupy and pass through the warm waters between Tenerife’s west coast and neighbouring La Gomera making Tenerife one of the best places in the world to watch them in their natural habitat.