Fly due south from the UK and 2,300 miles later you will be within the volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands. 7 large inhabited islands and several smaller ones resting off the south eastern shores of Morocco. The largest and most populated is Tenerife an island that enjoys two climates. The north, visited by the moist winds from the Atlantic bring rain from November to March making this an area that enjoys lush vegetation whilst the south is arid and dry, home to the popular resorts of Los Christianos and Playa de las Americas where visitors flock to enjoy the year round sunshine and with temperatures averaging 21c in winter and 29c in summer it’s easy to see the appeal.
There is however much more to Tenerife than sun, sea and sand. The island is home to Mt. Teide and the Teide National Park. At 12,198 feet it is not only the tallest mountain in Spain but the third largest volcano on a volcanic island in the world after those in Hawaii. Although Teide is still active the last eruption was in 1909 and scientists do not predict any in the near future. The only way to reach the summit is by cable car after traversing along roads through a wilderness of lava that makes the landscape bleak but in many ways beautiful. Arriving at the cable car station you are already over 3,000 feet above sea level. Board the cable car system that will whisk you to the viewing area near to the summit and enjoy the 7 minute ride as you speed upwards at 28kph with the views getting better and better. Arrive at the top, walk around the large paved viewing area or join one of the guides for a hike over the volcanic surface along one of the predetermined trails, gasp as the views take your breath away, marvel at the world beneath your feet from a point higher than the clouds. As the sun begins to set Teide’s shadow is cast upon the east of the island and then, finally, watch the bright luminary sink slowly into a clear western sky that turns a vivid red as the sun finally disappears beyond the horizon to end another day. There are few places on earth that afford such views. The ride down is now in darkness and all that can be seen are the lights of the inhabited areas across the island and along the coast. Take warm clothing as it may be in the mid 20c’s at sea level but up there it can be minus temperatures.
Within the Teide National Park, an area of nearly 190 square kilometres, is the Teide Solar Observatory, the largest of its kind in the world. At night treat yourself to one of the star gazing guided tours which are arranged on a regular basis. See the stars and planets through high powered telescopes, learn from the guides how to find and recognise those star constellations and your own star sign, Gemini, Taurus, Aries and those that complete the Zodiac. How to find the Polar Star from the location of the Great Bear or Cassiopeia, look for Andromeda, Orion and many more. Here in the blackness with no light pollution the stars are clearer, more visible and learning about them becomes interesting, almost fascinating as you listen to the knowledgeable guides. Did you know that the Polar Star isn’t the brightest in the galaxy, no, neither did I.
The Water Kingdom, Siam Park. Modelled on Siam or to use its modern name, Thailand you could be forgiven for thinking that once through the main entrance you have been transported several thousand miles to that destination. For the young or indeed the young at heart you enter a world of lush vegetation, models of almost life sized white elephants, a small lagoon where California Sea Lions swim to the delight of visitors. Visit the Thai Village, the largest outside of Asia where souvenirs can be had. Hungry?, try the Beach Club Restaurant for a selection of meals accompanied with a choice of wines or the Tea House bar and creperie. Feel thirsty, try the Thai Bar or the Beach Bar.
In the final stages of completion is Siam Beach incorporating the worlds largest wave machine, set within a lagoon and surrounded by sand imported from Portugal. How about a VIP Cabana Villa? Set amongst trees with views over Siam Beach, a place for you and your friends to relax for the day in exotic surroundings. 800 Euros per day for 8 people make this a realistic day out with beer, wine, soft drinks and food included. For the children the adventure is endless. Compete with their friends on the Naga Racer water slide or let the current take them slowly along the Mai Thai River. Whilst parents relax on loungers under sun umbrella’s they play in the Lost City, watch their friends getting showered with water from Maha Chakri Sirindhorn or get up enough courage to try the Tower of Power. An adrenalin pumping water slide nearly 250 feet high. Enter the water chute, reach speeds of up to 50mph in almost free fall before entering a glass tube through the centre of a huge aquarium containing Nurse and Sand Tiger Sharks, Manta and Sting Rays and Guitar Fish before coming to a stop in the large open pool. This has to be the ride that beats all rides. There are water rides for all the family and far too many to mention in a short article. Life guards abound making this a very safe environment. It’s a theme park for all ages and one that you will want to return to, time after time.
Tenerife has a history going back to the 1400’s. It is recorded that in December 1493 Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand granted Alonso Fernandez de Lugo the right to conquer Tenerife and bring it under Spanish rule. Tenerife has always maintained strong links with the Americas as it was often used as a staging post for the explorers and their galleons before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. This still happens today when many cruise ships port at the capital, Santa Cruz, before crossing the Atlantic to their winter season home ports. It is often the first port after crossing ‘The Pond’ on their return voyage.
Travel inland and the islands scenery changes this is now home to 56 species of birds, 5 of reptiles and 13 of land mammals. The islands coast, rivers and lakes are home to over 400 species of fish from Whales to the smallest Minnow. Tenerife celebrates many festivals the largest being the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife each February. The streets of the capital come alive with Samba Bands, Dancers, Acrobats and much more, reminiscent of Rio, the streets, houses, bars and restaurants are decorated with flags, streamers, lights and flowers giving an atmosphere that can only be associated with ‘Carnival’.
Over 5 million visitors come to Tenerife every year, many have purchased holiday homes on the island whilst others come for vacations of 1,2,3 or more weeks to escape the winter of Northern Europe or enjoy the warm summer days and sunbathe on the islands 41 miles of beaches. Being a duty free island it makes luxury goods very tempting for the visitor.
The choice of hotels along the Costa Adeje are plentiful and range in quality from value for money self catering apartments to luxury hotels.
One to be considered is the Iberostar Grand Hotel Anthelia and grand it is. 365 beautifully appointed rooms with balcony or terrace featuring king size beds, quality toiletries, satellite TV, Wi-Fi, room service, mini bar, safe and much more. From the large spacious dining room with its Al Fresco area to the 3 themed restaurants and 4 bars. 3 outdoor swimming pools and two heated indoor pools with thick cushioned loungers. With impeccable service this is a hotel that will set the mood for your stay.
This is a destination to come to at any time of the year and a destination that people of all ages will enjoy.
Alan Fairfax -
is a travel writer for
YOUR HOLIDAY TV
Alan also writes for the
Ashford Advertiser Media Group with regional papers across Kent with regular holiday & travel sections in all editions
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