The island of Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Island group and is principally the political centre of the archipelago. It is one of seven Canary Islands belonging to Spain who share numerous island chains just off the western coast of Africa with its neighbour Portugal. Now, anyone who hasn’t visited the island before would be forgiven for thinking Tenerife is just like any old island resort; flash seafront façade filled with the overbearing “aroma” of English tourists, right? Not quite. ‘Well…’ you must be thinking, ‘…all the attraction must be is the nightclubs and endless fast food joints that clog up the place, right?’ Again, you wouldn’t be quite right. While Tenerife has an abundance of nightlife, particularly in the two major centres of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and San Cristóbal de la Laguna, there is a lot more to these two beautiful historical cities.
However, this variation is not just limited to two specific places; the whole island is a special place to visit. There are a variety of natural beauty spots and views to take in. In fact, the majority of the island is to some extent protected to preserve the natural volcanic landscape and the remaining indigenous plant and animal species. There is of course various gardens and historical sites that prove to you I’m not lying! One such place is situated in the north of the island in the municipality of La Orotava. The botanical gardens here provide stunning views all round. You can choose to take in the view over the town and out towards the sea or look up to Spain’s highest mountain: Mount Tiede, this is the focal point of the national park named after it which pretty much covers the entire island interior.
While exploring and taking in the sites may not appeal to you, there is of course plenty to relax your mind. There are numerous, splendid beach resorts, notably in the south of the island in the municipality of Adeje. Here, there are hotel resorts and villas where you can lounge on the beach or soak up the sun on your villa terrace.
There again, why would you limit yourself to merely the beach? Tenerife is also very cultural and consequently traditional. There are numerous festivals that take place throughout the year on the island; each celebrates a different tradition and event. The most famous and one of the most popular is the Tenerife carnival that takes place throughout the island in the week before lent. It has been claimed that it is the second most popular and also second biggest in terms of glamour and flamboyance after the Rio carnival in Brazil. While this is true, it probably is compared to the Rio carnival because it is exactly that – Brazilian-styled, and most likely more so than any other Spanish festival. The ideal place to see it festival in all its glamour is the capital of Santa Cruz in which the streets are filled with people, native and otherwise who dress according to a particular theme e.g. Roman, Flower Power and so on. There is dancing, contests and something for the children. There is one thing for sure; it is a fantastic spectacle that you will no doubt enjoy.
Tenerife, much like the rest of Spain, is deeply religious. Other festivals that incorporate the islands history and culture also represent its religious present. Festivals such as that of Fiestas of the Cross which is held in May and Day of the three Wise Men, held in January, celebrate religious aspects of the islands history, both of which impress to the casual observer. The Festival of Tegueste and the Festival of San Andres are also occasions to see and represent what could be known as traditional festivals. The Festival of Tegueste is said to represent friendship, and during which singing and dancing is performed through the town’s centre, visitors are given local products such as potatoes and meat as well as other savouries during the celebrations by kind-hearted locals. The Festival of San Andres basically celebrates wine as the town translates as a place of such. Locals and visitors alike share their wine and celebrate the town for which it lends its name.
Alternatively, if you fancy something a little off the beaten track, attend the festivals of Romeria de San Roque and the Festival of the Pot and Chestnut. First of all, the festival of Romeria de San Roque is a celebration of people, and originated in the 17th century. It is a thank you to the town of San Roque for saving people of the towns of Garachio from the plague that devastated it. Held in August (which make the latter part better!) islanders dress in traditional costumes and follow the route taken by the procession. Before the fiesta can begin however, tradition enables that the people must head into the sea for a swim before the fiesta. Furthermore, the Festival of the Pot and Chestnut, although oddly named, is truly a spectacle that displays the traditions of the island of Tenerife. It is a celebration of the day of Saint San Andres in the town of Puerto de la Cruz. Held in November, locals bring with them pots and other instruments before making a lot of noise. It is not what you would call contemporary, however, it is a marvellous sight that has to be seen to be believed.