There are many places that I want to visit in the world, and there are many places that I overlook because they are right on my doorstep. Admittedly something I previously thought of as no more than a warm rock in the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife garnered a mental image of sunburnt British holidaymakers in their thousands, drinking warm beer while making a lot of noise. It is safe to say that it wasn’t high on my travel list. However, when Jet2 propositioned a short getaway to the island, I did some research. Leaving my fellow countrymen behind at the bars and beaches, there seemed to be plenty to explore on this island. I would be on that 10am flight on Monday morning.
The flight itself was a breeze; the staff from Jet2 were ridiculously informative, friendly and certainly some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of flying with over the years. With a generous baggage allowance of 22kg each, there were no typical worries of packing too much into our suitcases. Considering the low cost of the flights, this was a great allowance. On board, the plane was more than comfortable and the flight out was almost empty. This obviously can’t always be guaranteed, but always great to be able to stretch the legs!
Our stay for the duration of the trip was at the Iberostar Anthelia; a beautiful five-star hotel just north of Los Cristianos. Less than an hour from some of the most desirable spots on the island, it provided the perfect home for us and our rental car. Our Priority Location Room with Sea View was more than adequate; a duplex apartment near the skyline of the building looking down on to the pools and the ocean below. His-and-hers bathrooms were certainly a highlight, as were the two balconies. However, the real allure was to be found in the rest of the all-inclusive resort.
Iberostar Anthelia boasts six different pools and five restaurants over it’s vast footprint, as well as direct access to the ocean below. Each morning was spent having breakfast in the Zeus restaurant; a buffet-style service offering every type of food under the sun. To my relief, Spanish food was available in abundance; meaning tortilla and churros for breakfast. Please don’t judge.
Elsewhere, Barbacoa was the perfect place for lunch with it’s convenient location next to the pool and beautifully presented tapas-style food. Adults-only restaurant Poseidon served the more fine dining fare; beautiful cuts of meat worthy of any top restaurant. Incredible, when you consider that it is included in the all-inclusive price. Portofino was the Italian flagship with plenty of pastas and dough-based dishes to choose from. Throw in cocktails by the pool that were included in the all-inclusive price and it actually was a little difficult to leave the resort!
Over the three full days, we identified three different parts of the island that we wanted to visit; Masca and Garrachico in the north west, La Orotava in the far north and Teide National Park which occupies the majority of the centre of the island.
Masca and Garrachico
If you aren’t a fan of driving on mountainous, windy roads, then look away now. The road to Masca is certainly not the easiest to drive, but the rewards are simply breathtaking. The town of Masca itself is perilously perched in the middle of a mountainous jungle, almost cut off from the rest of the island. While it only takes twenty minutes to get there from the main highway, it does feel like a world away from the beaches of Tenerife. Take your time and take plenty of rest stops on the view points to appreciate the scenery. Just be wary as the weather here can be very changeable; the cold air of the Atlantic and the warm air of the island produce a lot of low lying clouds at time, that seem to completely consume the road.
From Masca, it’s an hour drive down to the town of Garrachico which lies on the north west coast. With it’s colonial architecture and beautiful colour palette it’s the perfect location for outfit shoots. Spend a few hours here and have a wander around the mazy streets; the town itself isn’t huge so you can easily do this in one afternoon. We didn’t quite have the time, or the attire, to go into the oceanside public pools, but they looked very dramatic against the crashing waves of the ocean.
If old Spanish architecture is your cup of tea, then a drive to La Orotava should be high on your list. One of the oldest towns on the island, it’s historic centre certainly draws in the crowds. Climb high enough on the cobbled streets and the coloured rooftops cascade down below, with views out over to the coast in the distance. There are plenty of museums to visit, as well as plenty of lunch spots to get that all-important tapas. Our pick was Tasca El Bulli Cio, which served up the most delicious Tosta de Solomillo de Buey (tender beef on toasted bread, a must-try).
Teide National Park
The pictures can do most of the talking on this one, but any expectations you may have of this volcanic lava field will be blown away. It is literally out of this world; a network of open, quiet, roads that snake through the mountains above the clouds. The rock formations are absolutely incredible and Mount Teide juts up 3000m above sea level; as high as most ski resorts in Europe. It only took an hour to drive into the heart of the national park from Iberostar Anthelia, yet the landscape around us felt like a different planet. I highly recommend driving in the late-afternoon; not only to miss the majority of the crowds, but to get that golden hour light and, perhaps most importantly, witness the sun sinking into the clouds below you from the impressive Mirador de Chipeque.