A picturesque island off the coast of North Africa, Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. It’s home to quaint villages, amazing volcanic beaches, and a warm year-round climate. So it’s no surprise, then, that the destination attracts a large number of annual visitors. Plus, there’s no shortage of things to do throughout the year, from picturesque mountain hikes to whale watching off-shore. The vibe on the island is mixed, so whether you’re a couple looking for a relaxing, romantic break or a family after fun, you’ll find plenty to fill your itinerary. To help you plan the perfect trip, we’ve compiled a list of nine best things to do in Tenerife.
1. Explore Teide National Park.
A UNESCO World Heritage site that sits at the heart of the island, Teide National Park is most famous for its striking Mount Teide volcano. The protected park is also home to pine forests, a dramatic volcanic landscape, and a diverse mix of wildlife, making it one of the most beautiful hiking spots in Europe. For the best views, you’ll want to head to the top of Mount Teide, and fortunately, there’s a cable car to help with that.
2. Go whale and dolphin watching.
Thanks to the region’s climate, the waters around the island attract whales and dolphins in large numbers. Around 20 different species pass through the channel between Tenerife and La Gomera during their annual migrations. Bottlenose dolphins, minke and sperm whales, and even orcas can be spotted on one of the island’s well-organized safaris. There are a number of companies that offer trips on boats, including large modern catamarans and traditional sail-powered schooners.
3. Hit the water parks.
Anyone who has ever visited a Spanish coastal resort can tell you that the country loves water parks, and Tenerife is no different. First, try Siam Park, a Thai-themed park with vertical slides, a large wave pool, and a long lazy river. If you want even more, head to Aqualand Costa Adeje, the island’s other popular world of water slides, kamikaze rapids, and lazy rivers.
4. See the Pyramids of Guimar.
Egypt isn’t the only place to see pyramids. The Pyramids of Guimar in Tenerife were built in the 19th century, but like those in Giza, plenty of conspiracy theories exist as to what they’re all about. Whatever they mean, the six structures are an impressive, can’t-miss sight. Located within the picturesque Piramides de Guimar Ethnographic Park, they’re joined by the Casa Chacona Museum, a small institution housing various ancient artifacts and sculptures.
5. Swim in natural saltwater pools.
Love the sea, but don’t love being in the sea? Then you’ll enjoy Tenerife’s natural saltwater pools, located in various spots across the island. They’re the result of the island’s rocky lava formations, which left behind peaceful saltwater lagoons. El Caleton de Garachico, Charco de la Laja, and Charco del Viento are three of the best and biggest natural pools, perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Alternatively, the Piscinas de Bajamar is a man-made saltwater pool on the seafront, should you want a place that comes with surrounding restaurants and bars, too.
6. Visit the town of La Laguna.
Aside from the beaches and natural landscape, Tenerife’s mix of towns and villages offer plenty of Canary Island culture. One particularly picture-perfect spot is the town of La Laguna, located on a hillside in the northern part of the island. While it’s not filled with restaurants and bars, there’s still plenty to see and do. The destination is home to some marvelous historic architecture, with some streets even holding UNESCO World Heritage status. Any visit to the colorful, tree-lined streets of La Laguna should include a trip to two of its most special churches, the Iglesia de la Concepcion and the Cathedral of La Laguna.
7. Go caving in Cueva del Viento.
Cueva del Viento, or Wind Cave, is the fifth-largest volcanic tube in the world. Guided tours explore parts of the 11-mile-long tunnel, which was created by lava flows from eruptions of the Pico Viejo volcano. Expect to see lava lakes, stalactites, fossils, and maze-like caves. Non-geo-minded visitors need not fret, as the knowledgeable guides do a great job of explaining the wonder of the caves.
8. Take a hike in Masca.
If there’s one hike you should commit to in Tenerife, it’s the long journey from the mountain village of Masca to the beach below. The roughly four-and-a-half-mile trek starts in Masca, located in the northern part of the island among dramatic jutting rocks, and provides amazing views along the way. Tip: Pack light and take plenty of water.
9. Enjoy the beaches.
Sometimes all you want is a day -- or five -- on the beach, and fortunately, Tenerife has your back. The island is dotted with great sandy stretches, from a man-made white-sand beach to a volcanic black shingle beach. Playa del Duque, with its white sand and pristine blue water, has a vaguely Caribbean flavor, while Playa El Bollullo is a secluded black-sand spot. The most popular beach on the island is Playa de las Americas, a large man-made stretch of sand with everything you’ll need for a day spent by the sea -- beach bars, water sports, restaurants, and more.
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