Where to avoid the crowds in Tenerife

Discover Secret Tenerife: A Journey Beyond the Crowds

Once at the very edge of the known world, the Canary Islands have evolved from a mysterious frontier on ancient maps to a premier vacation destination. These islands, where the Old World once ended, now beckon travelers with their unique blend of culture and stunningly diverse landscapes. Among them, Tenerife stands out as the largest and most famous, yet this island still holds secrets waiting to be unveiled by the curious traveler.

Unveiling Tenerife’s Hidden Charms

Far from the bustling beach resorts of the south, the world-renowned water park, and the well-trodden hiking trails lie a different Tenerife. This island is of lesser-known delights, where life’s pace slows, and Canarian culture’s quintessence can be genuinely experienced. It’s where you can disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature and tradition.

1. Secluded Beaches and Coastal Wonders

Exploring Tenerife’s lesser-known beaches is a delightful experience for those looking to escape the more crowded tourist spots. Among these hidden gems is Playa de Benijo, a serene and picturesque beach in the northeastern part of the island, near the village of Taganana in the Anaga Rural Park.

Playa de Benijo is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. The beach is set against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs and is known for its unique black volcanic sand, a characteristic feature of many beaches in the Canary Islands. The beach is relatively small and intimate, providing a sense of seclusion and tranquility often sought by those wanting to relax and disconnect from the bustle of everyday life.

One of Playa de Benijo’s most striking features is its panoramic view of the Roques de Anaga, a group of small, rocky islands just off the coast. These natural monuments are an impressive sight, especially during sunset when the sky and sea are painted in vibrant hues of orange and pink.

For sunset lovers, Playa de Benijo is a must-visit. The beach faces west, making it an ideal spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon in a spectacular display of colors. This natural spectacle, combined with the sound of the waves and the tranquil environment, creates a truly magical and romantic atmosphere.

It’s important to note that Playa de Benijo is more suited for sightseeing and relaxing than swimming, as the currents can be strong and the waves quite high. However, for those interested in photography or nature walks, the beach and its surroundings offer plenty of opportunities. The Anaga Rural Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is a hiker’s paradise with numerous trails that wind through lush forests and along rugged coastlines, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and the surrounding landscapes.

Accessibility to Playa de Benijo is somewhat limited, which helps preserve its untouched charm. The beach can be reached by a winding road that descends from the village of Taganana. A small parking area near the beach can fill up quickly, so arriving early or visiting during off-peak times is advisable. Nearby, there are a few local restaurants where visitors can enjoy fresh seafood and traditional Canarian dishes, adding a gastronomic delight to the experience.

Overall, Playa de Benijo and its surroundings offer a unique and enchanting experience for tourists seeking to explore the natural beauty of Tenerife beyond its more well-known attractions. This hidden beach is a testament to the island’s diverse and unspoiled landscapes, making it a valuable addition to any itinerary for those visiting the Canary Islands.

2. The Path Less Travelled: Hiking and Nature Trails

Tenerife, an island of varied landscapes and natural wonders, is a paradise for adventurous souls, particularly those who enjoy hiking. Away from the bustling beaches and tourist hotspots, the island’s less frequented hiking trails offer a serene and immersive experience in nature. The Anaga Rural Park, situated in the northeastern part of the island, is a prime destination for such adventures.

Anaga Rural Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve renowned for its ancient laurel forests, known as “laurisilva.” These forests are a relic from the Tertiary period, making them incredibly ecologically and historically valuable. Hiking through these dense, misty forests is like stepping back in time, as many plants and trees have remained unchanged for centuries.

The park’s terrain is characterized by its rugged peaks and deep ravines formed by ancient volcanic activity. This diverse topography offers a range of trails, catering to seasoned hikers and those seeking more leisurely walks. The paths wind through the lush greenery, with the dense foliage occasionally parting to reveal breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.

One of the key features of hiking in Anaga is the solitude it offers. These paths are less frequented than other tourist areas on the island, allowing for a more personal connection with nature. The park’s tranquility is palpable, with only the sounds of wildlife and rustling leaves to accompany hikers on their journey.

The trails in Anaga vary in length and difficulty, providing options for different skill levels. Some popular routes include the path from Cruz del Carmen to Punta del Hidalgo, which offers stunning views and passes through several charming villages. Another notable trail is the path leading to the remote beach of Playa de Antequera, a secluded spot accessible only on foot or by boat.

For those interested in the cultural aspects of Tenerife, the park is also home to several rural communities that have maintained traditional Canarian ways of life. Hiking in the area allows one to encounter these communities and learn about their customs and heritage.

When planning a hike in Anaga Rural Park, coming prepared is important. The weather can be unpredictable, with sudden fog or rain, so appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear are essential. It’s also advisable to bring enough water and snacks, as there are limited facilities once on the trails.

Overall, Anaga Rural Park is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Tenerife. The combination of its ancient forests, dramatic landscapes, and tranquility makes it an ideal location for those looking to explore the island’s natural beauty in solitude. The experience of hiking through this untouched landscape provides physical challenges and a sense of peace and connection with the natural world.

3. Traditional Villages and Local Culture

Venturing into Tenerife’s traditional villages is like stepping into a world where time has stood still, offering a unique glimpse into the island’s rich cultural heritage. One such village is Masca, nestled in the Teno Mountains. This picturesque village is a feast for the eyes and a gateway to understanding Tenerife’s history and culture.

Masca is often described as one of Tenerife’s most beautiful villages. Its location is breathtaking, perched on the mountainside with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The village’s architecture is a testament to the traditional Canarian style, with its charming stone houses and narrow, winding streets that evoke a sense of stepping back in time. The village’s remote setting has helped preserve its traditional feel and architecture, making it a precious cultural gem on the island.

For cultural enthusiasts, Masca offers an intimate experience of the local way of life. Visitors can immerse themselves in the village’s tranquil atmosphere, stroll through its streets, and appreciate the slower pace of life that contrasts sharply with the bustling tourist areas elsewhere on the island. The village is small, and its population is just a handful of residents, which adds to its charm and authenticity.

One of the highlights of visiting Masca is the opportunity to sample traditional Canarian cuisine. Local taverns and restaurants in the village serve various Canarian dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Specialties to try include “papas arrugadas” (wrinkled potatoes) served with “mojo” sauces, fresh goat cheese, and “gofio,” a type of flour made from toasted grains that is a staple in Canarian cooking. Enjoying these dishes in the rustic setting of Masca adds a delightful sensory dimension to the experience.

In addition to its cultural and culinary offerings, Masca is known for its natural beauty and hiking opportunities. The famous Masca Gorge, a stunning ravine with steep walls and lush vegetation, is a popular hiking destination. The trail from the village down to the beach at the bottom of the gorge offers spectacular views and a challenging yet rewarding hike for nature lovers.

Masca’s rich history is intertwined with the Guanches, the indigenous inhabitants of the Canary Islands. The village and its surroundings are steeped in legends and stories from the Guanche era, providing an intriguing glimpse into the island’s pre-Spanish history. Visitors interested in this aspect can learn about the Guanches’ traditional customs, beliefs, and way of life, adding a historical dimension to their visit.

A trip to Masca is more than just a visit to a picturesque village; it’s an immersive experience combining natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical depth. This hidden gem in the Teno Mountains is a must-visit for anyone looking to delve deeper into the soul of Tenerife, far beyond the common tourist experience. It offers a peaceful retreat and a chance to connect with the island’s past and present in a truly authentic setting.

4. The Hidden Historical Gems

Tenerife, an island rich in natural beauty, is also steeped in history, much of which remains lesser-known to the typical tourist. One of the island’s historical treasures is the old town of Garachico. History is etched into every street and building in this place, offering a journey back to the 16th century.

Garachico is located on the northwest coast of Tenerife and is a testament to the island’s past, particularly its volcanic history. Founded in the early 16th century, the town quickly became an important trading port until a volcanic eruption in 1706 changed its fate. The eruption of the Trevejo volcano dramatically altered the town’s landscape, with lava flows destroying much of the port and parts of the town. Remarkably, this catastrophic event has contributed to preserving the historical integrity of Garachico, as the town’s development was halted, and many of its original buildings remained intact.

Walking through the old town of Garachico is like stepping into a living museum. The streets are lined with well-preserved buildings that showcase typical Canarian architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries. Visitors can admire the beautiful traditional wooden balconies, charming plazas, and historic churches that reflect the town’s former prosperity and resilience in the face of natural disasters.

One of the highlights of Garachico is the Castillo de San Miguel, a 16th-century fortress that now serves as a museum. This fortification was one of the few structures that withstood the volcanic eruption, and it offers insights into the town’s history and defense mechanisms against pirate attacks in the past.

Another significant aspect of Garachico’s heritage is its volcanic history, which is explored at El Caletón, a series of natural rock pools formed by the 1706 lava flows. These pools are popular for swimming and relaxing, providing a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

In addition to its historical and architectural attractions, Garachico offers a range of cultural experiences. The town hosts various festivals and events annually, celebrating its heritage and traditions. These events are a fantastic opportunity for visitors to experience local customs, music, and cuisine, further enriching their understanding of Tenerife’s culture.

Garachico’s history is also closely tied to its religious heritage, which is evident in the numerous churches and convents that dot the town. The Iglesia de Santa Ana, for example, is a notable church that showcases beautiful artworks and a richly decorated interior, offering a glimpse into the religious and artistic history of the region.

For those interested in the natural history and geology of Tenerife, Garachico provides an intriguing perspective. The town’s interaction with volcanic activity over the centuries highlights the ever-present influence of nature on the island’s development and the resilience of its people.

In conclusion, a visit to Garachico offers a multifaceted experience for those seeking to explore Tenerife’s historical treasures. It uniquely blends architectural beauty, historical intrigue, cultural depth, and natural wonders. With its rich past and vibrant present, this quaint town is a must-visit for anyone looking to delve deeper into the less explored facets of Tenerife’s heritage, away from the usual tourist trails.

5. The Unexplored North: A Different Side of Tenerife

The northern part of Tenerife presents a strikingly different landscape compared to the sunnier, drier south. This region has lush greenery, unique microclimates, and rich historical and cultural sites. The Orotava Valley and La Laguna are two notable areas in the north that exemplify the island’s biodiversity and colonial history.

The Orotava Valley is a spectacular area known for its verdant landscapes and fertile soils. This lush valley, set against the backdrop of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, offers some of the most breathtaking scenery on the island. The unique microclimates in this region have created a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers. The valley’s rich volcanic soil is highly fertile, supporting a variety of crops, including vineyards, banana plantations, and gardens. A visit to the Orotava Valley is incomplete without exploring its beautiful botanical gardens and enjoying the panoramic views of the valley and the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Orotava Valley is steeped in history, with charming towns like La Orotava showcasing well-preserved examples of colonial architecture. La Orotava, in particular, is known for its historic homes adorned with intricate wooden balconies, cobbled streets, and elegant plazas. The town’s architectural heritage reflects the wealth and influence of the families who settled there in the wake of the Spanish conquest.

Another significant historical site north of Tenerife is the town of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, commonly referred to as La Laguna. This town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved colonial architecture and its role in the history of the Canary Islands. La Laguna was the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, and its layout was used as a model for many colonial towns in the Americas.

The historical center of La Laguna is a delight to explore, with its old streets, traditional Canarian houses, historic churches, and convents. The town’s layout, dating back to the late 15th century, is a testament to the then-revolutionary urban planning ideas. La Laguna also houses the University of La Laguna, the oldest university in the Canary Islands, adding a vibrant and youthful atmosphere to the town.

La Laguna is not just a historical site; it’s a living, breathing city where the past and present coexist harmoniously. The town is known for its cultural life, with numerous festivals, religious processions, and academic events throughout the year. Additionally, its variety of shops, restaurants, and bars offer a taste of contemporary Canarian life while still respecting the town’s historical significance.

Overall, the north of Tenerife, with the Orotava Valley and La Laguna, offers visitors a rich tapestry of experiences. From the lush, diverse landscapes and unique microclimates of the valley to the historical and cultural depth of La Laguna, this part of the island showcases a different side of Tenerife. It’s a side that speaks to the island’s biodiversity, colonial history, and the harmonious blend of past and present, making it an essential part of any visit to Tenerife.

6. Agritourism and Rural Retreats

Engaging in agritourism in Tenerife offers a unique and immersive experience, ideal for those looking to venture off the beaten path and connect with the island’s rural roots. This form of tourism allows visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty of the countryside, participate actively in local farming life, and gain an authentic understanding of the island’s agricultural practices and traditions.

Staying in a rural casa (house) or finca (farm) is central to the agritourism experience. These accommodations are often traditional Canarian houses that have been restored and converted into comfortable guesthouses, retaining their rustic charm and historical character. A rural casa or finca offers a tranquil and intimate setting, often surrounded by stunning natural scenery like lush valleys, rolling hills, or terraced farms.

Participating in local farming activities is a highlight of agritourism. Many rural accommodations offer guests the opportunity to get involved in daily farm operations, depending on the type of farm. These activities could include tending to vegetable gardens, picking fruit, helping harvest crops like grapes or bananas, and even making local products such as wine or cheese. This hands-on experience provides insight into the hard work and dedication involved in farming and fosters a deeper connection with the land and the food we consume.

Enjoying fresh produce directly from the land is perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of agritourism. Meals in rural casas or fincas often feature locally sourced ingredients, many of which are harvested from the farm. This farm-to-table dining experience allows guests to savor the true flavors of Tenerife, with dishes prepared using traditional recipes passed down through generations. The freshness and quality of the ingredients, combined with the simplicity and authenticity of the cuisine, make for a memorable culinary journey.

Agritourism in Tenerife also allows exploring the surrounding countryside, often less frequented by tourists. Hiking, bird watching, and visiting nearby villages can be part of the experience, offering a glimpse into the rural way of life and the island’s natural beauty.

Beyond the activities, agritourism is about connecting with the local community and understanding their way of life. It offers a chance to learn about sustainable farming practices and local farmers’ challenges, fostering a sense of appreciation and respect for their work. Many agritourism hosts are happy to share stories about their land, crops, and history, making the experience both educational and personal.

In conclusion, agritourism in Tenerife provides a unique and enriching experience beyond typical tourist activities. It offers a chance to slow down, appreciate the simpler aspects of life, and immerse oneself in the island’s agricultural heritage. For those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure that combines rural charm, cultural insights, and a taste of authentic local cuisine, agritourism in Tenerife is an excellent choice.

7. Stargazing in Remote Locations

Tenerife’s position as a premier destination for stargazing is largely attributed to its clear skies and minimal light pollution, particularly in areas like Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The unique conditions on the island create an almost perfect environment for astronomical observation, making it a haven for amateur stargazers and professional astronomers.

Teide National Park, centered around Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, is one of the best places in the world for stargazing due to several key factors. The park’s high altitude, which reaches up to 3,718 meters above sea level, means that it is well above the cloud layer for most of the year. This elevation results in exceptionally clear skies, with minimal atmospheric interference, providing unobstructed views of the cosmos.

Moreover, the Canary Islands, including Tenerife, have strict light pollution laws to ensure that the night skies remain pristine for astronomical observation. These regulations have helped preserve the dark skies and have earned parts of the islands, including Teide National Park, recognition as a Starlight Reserve, a certification awarded to locations with exceptional starry nights, and a commitment to protecting the night sky.

Visitors to Teide National Park can witness an array of astronomical phenomena with the naked eye, such as the Milky Way, various constellations, planets, and even meteor showers on certain occasions. The experience is breathtaking and offers a moment of reflection on our place in the universe.

For a more guided experience, numerous astronomy tours are available in the park. These tours are often led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the stars and constellations visible from Tenerife. Many tours include telescopes, allowing a closer look at distant celestial objects. Some tours are also timed with specific astronomical events, such as meteor showers or planetary alignments, providing an enhanced stargazing experience.

Apart from the guided tours, the park is home to the Teide Observatory, one of the world’s leading observatories. The observatory conducts significant research in astrophysics and is equipped with state-of-the-art telescopic equipment. Although primarily a research facility, the observatory offers guided tours, allowing visitors to learn about astronomical research and observe the night sky through professional telescopes.

Stargazing in Teide National Park is not just about observing the stars; it’s about experiencing the awe and wonder of the universe. The tranquility of the park at night, combined with the spectacular celestial display, creates a truly magical and humbling experience.

In conclusion, for those seeking an unforgettable astronomical experience, Teide National Park in Tenerife is an ideal destination. The park’s unique geographical and climatic conditions and commitment to preserving dark skies make it a world-class location for stargazing. Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or simply looking to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, a visit to Teide National Park promises a memorable and enlightening experience under the stars.

Concluding Your Journey

This guide to Secret Tenerife takes you beyond the well-known attractions to places where you can experience the island’s true essence. Whether through its hidden beaches, quaint villages, or remote nature trails, Tenerife offers a unique and memorable escape for those willing to explore its lesser-known paths.

In uncovering the hidden Tenerife, you’ll find serene and untouched landscapes and gain a deeper appreciation for the island’s culture, history, and natural beauty. Tenerife is more than just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to be discovered.