In recent years Tenerife has been working hard to shed its slightly unfair reputation of being an uncharacteristic haunt of bachelor parties escaping the British winter.
The raucous hordes who descend upon Playa De Las Americas in the summer months find themselves shoehorned into an ever decreasing enclave of tacky bars and clubs around the “Veronicas” centre, and have little to temp them to venture much further afield.
But further afield we must go, if we want to find the real Tenerife.
It’s always amazed me how few people venture to the north of Tenerife. It’s only an hour further from the uninspiring concrete developments in the South, to the lush, rugged, beautiful, authentic Tenerife in the North.
I understand that some people are put off by the weather reports, and it’s true that the North does get more rain than the South, you’ll get mixed messages on this, but the truth is one is a lush green paradise, the other is a baron featureless desert, you do the math! But it’s not quite as simple as looking at the weather report as the weather for the North is monitored at La Laguna, an exceptionally pretty town, but unfortunately a place perpetually clouded in….. well rain-clouds. It can be banging down in La Laguna and 30 miles further east at Puerta De La Cruz, the North’s no1 tourist destination, it can be blazing sun. Trust me, I know. As that’s exactly what happened to us in March this year.
Puerto de la Cruz has the perfect balance of old and new, traditional and contemporary, real Tenerife and real ale. There’s a lovely traditional feel to the place, with its quaint harbour and pretty town with cobbled streets and ornate churches. Stop for a drink in one of the quaint bars surrounding the main square, Plaza De Charco, and dine at one of the many excellent restaurants, from traditional taverns serving rabbit with salted potatoes (Conejo al Salmorejo) to the extraordinary El Taller Seve Diaz offering exquisite fine dining. (If you visit Puerto de la Cruz, you must eat there, no, seriously, you must. It’s phenomenal.)
Puerto de La Cruz also boasts a blue flag beach, the impeccably clean Playa Jardin, but if black sand beaches aren’t your thing there also the Lago Martiánez. A beautifully styled water park designed by César Manrique with tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls, and sun terraces.
There’s a little tourist train that runs to the nearby, ever popular Loro Parque. A 135,000 square metre animal park with sub-tropical gardens, exotic birds and wildlife, though personally we find the 30 minute walk along the promenade much more satisfying.
On the outskirts of the town you will find the Botanical Gardens, jarring in stark contrast with the rich tapestry of thoughtful design enjoyed throughout the resort we have an attraction (and I use that word in the broadest possible context) that follows a different path. Satisfying its title The Botanical Gardens is a garden dedicated to the collection, cultivation and display of a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names, just don’t go there thinking they may have employed a designer to arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
One day trip you should definitely take is a trip to mount Teide and the surrounding national park. There is a cable car that takes you to within a whisper of the 3718 metre peak, weather permitting, where the vistas of the caldera, and across the whole island, are breathtaking. Its said you can see all the way to Lanzarote on a clear day. If you intend to take the cable car, get there early. This is a popular attraction, we queued for 2 hours, and when we left the queued was twice as long, as when we arrived. Top tip – you can buy your tickets on-line, and skip most of the queue, I wish we’d known before we went.