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With more than 900 miles of breathtaking coastline and ever-present bright blue skies, the Canary Islands are an amazing vacation destination. Tenerife, the largest of the islands, not only offers gorgeous beaches, but lush soaring mountains to hike, exciting nightlife, abundant wildlife and more. If you’re planning to visit, you may be overwhelmed with the many offerings, but these things to do are some of the best of the best for your visit to the island.
With so much coastline, Tenerife is home to a diverse array of beaches, from golden stretches of sand to velvety black sand beaches. You’ll find golden beaches in the eastern resort areas, with the winds making these stretches of sand popular for kite surfing and wind surfing. In the north and west are the dark, sultry shores with picturesque coves like Puerto de la Cruz, Los Gigantes and Playa de la Arena.
Whale watching on Tenerife is a must while you’re here. You’ll have the opportunity to spot pilot, sperm, minke and orca whales along with plenty of sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins and the occasional striped dolphin too. Tours typically last for three hours, departing from Los Gigantes, Las Americas, Los Cristianos and Las Galletas. A variety of options are available, including trips aboard a small wooden clipper ship for an intimate experience with the dolphins as well as catamarans with glass bottomed panels that allow passengers to marvel at the marine life below.
You can go underground when you’re on Tenerife too. Cueva del Viento is a series of caves that were formed by lava when the Pico Viejo volcano erupted. The caves include over 11 miles of lava tubes that can be explored on the guide-led walking tour. You’ll traverse through a maze of underground tunnels to view lava stalactites, lava lake, fossils and nearly 200 species of insects that inhabit the cave as well.
Plentiful sunshine combined with spectacular sea, mountain, and volcano views are just a few of the ingredients that make for fabulous golfing on Tenerife. There are nine different courses on the island, each offering something unique , with various sizes and interesting features. Amarilla Golf and Country Club is the only resort in the archipelago where you can golf, take part in nautical activities and horse riding, while Real Club de Golf de Tenerife is known for its local wildlife and incline. Abama Golf is a challenging course that offers some of the most jaw-dropping views out to the Atlantic and La Gomera island.
Just off the central northern shores near the town of Tabaiba, a wreck deliberately sunk back in 2006 in order to attract more marine life, and divers out to view it. The shipwreck, called the El Peñon, is about 115 feet long and inside are octopi, some big moray eels and large schools of barracuda and mackerel. If you’re an advanced experienced diver you can head out on your own, otherwise, you’ll find a number of tour options that include an expert, qualified instructor.
If you take only one sightseeing tour on Tenerife, make it a jeep safari. Touring by jeep allows you to discover hidden places that standard vehicles just can’t reach, from remote canyons to the surreal moon-like landscape of the ancient volcano Teide. A jeep safari also means you’ll be able to see quite a bit in a relatively short time, without sacrificing the opportunity to enjoy the island’s cultural charms. There are a multiple tour operators and various excursions that offer a variety of routes, including tours to the summit of Mount Teide via the famous hidden city of Masca as well as excursions to the neighboring island of La Gomera.
The centerpiece of Mount Teide National Park is, of course, Mount Teide, a volcano and the highest mountain peak in Spain at nearly 12,200 feet above sea level. There are multiple ways to experience it, but you won’t want to miss the chance to soak up the awe-inspiring views from the mountain’s summit. You can hike or take a cable car to reach it, where panoramic views of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Palma and the endless expanse of the Atlantic all await. You can also visit the Teide Observatory here. The largest solar observatory on Earth is ideally situated for viewing a dazzling night’s sky.
While you probably equate camels with the Arabian desert, camels were once a rather common sight on Tenerife, especially around the south end, used to help agricultural workers as they were better suited for the terrain than cattle. If you’ve never ridden one, there are a number of camel parks around the island that offer the experience, with some of the best found in the aptly named La Camella, as well as Puerto de la Cruz and El Tanque. The unique adventure often comes with some especially picturesque views of the sea and the mountains.
Tenerife is becoming an increasingly popular wine destination too. Home to the largest wine-producing area in the Canary Islands, the rich, fertile soil nourishes multiple grape varieties, including the favorite listan variety. Its sweet Malmsey wine dates all the way back to 16th-century Britain, beloved by Shakespeare himself who mentioned it more than 100 times in his plays. You can join an excursion to take you around to the island’s hottest vino spots, sampling wine and authentic Canarian cuisine along the way, while learning more about its cultural and historic heritage.