Forget Disney World. When you’re looking for a vacation spot that will strengthen family bonds and create memories your children will treasure forever, look no farther than the Canary Island of Tenerife. A part of Spain yet with its own distinct culture, tropical climate, and spellbinding scenic beauty, Tenerife abounds with captivating activities that will enthrall your kids — and you, too.
Theme Parks: Much More Than Lions and Tigers and Bears
If your kids have their hearts set on a theme park, rest assured that there are plenty of opportunities on Tenerife for thrilling rides and wildlife viewing.
Siam Park. Set on a hillside overlooking the Costa Adeje, this little slice of Thailand looms large among those looking for gravity-defying, adrenaline-rushing, white-knuckle fun. Most thrilling are the 92-foot Tower of Power water chute and the Dragon, a giant funnel ride. Younger children will enjoy the Lost City at this water park, with its towers, bridges, waterfalls, fountains, and gentle slides. And when the kids get hungry, you’ll find plenty of dining and snack options, from hot dogs to a floating market.
Loro Parque. One of the most popular attractions on the island is this wildlife park in Puerto de La Cruz. The park began as a sanctuary for parrots (“loro” literally means “parrot”), and a 600-seat amphitheater provides a showcase for the more than 350 species on display here. But parrots are just one of the feathered species your children can view. At the park’s Planet Penguin, an Antarctic environment has been carefully recreated — including an ice tunnel with 12 tons daily of artificial snow!
The park is also renowned for its sea creatures, including orcas and dolphins, as well as walk-through aquariums with sharks and tropical fish darting among colorful coral reefs. Here you’ll also find lions, jaguars, and the world’s largest number of Western Lowland male gorillas in a setting that closely mimics their natural habitat.
Las Aguilas Jungle Park. Eager to experience more of the animal kingdom? Then head to Las Aguilas Jungle Park, an 18.5-acre zoo and botanical garden near the Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas resorts. Though it plays host to more than 500 species of animals, the park is known particularly for its birds. Don’t miss the flying eagle and birds of prey show or the exotic birds show, featuring macaws, parrots, hornbills, and more. You might also enjoy the high-dive show, in which human athletes perform death-defying dives. Or swoop through the park yourself on the Jungle Raid, a nearly 1,000-foot ropes course, or the 2,625-foot bobsled course.
Other wildlife you might see here include big cats, such as, yes, lions and tigers, but also jaguars, leopards, and pumas, as well as marine species such as penguins, pygmy hippos, and crocodiles.
Aqualand. This water park has entertainment for everyone, from the thrill seeker to the sun seeker. Flumes, slides, trampolines, and more provide plenty of active fun, and kids can also enjoy the mini-castles, ducks, and water buckets. Feel free to watch from the comfort of a sunbed, or indulge yourself at the spa. And the whole family is bound to enjoy the antics of the daily dolphin show.
Other wildlife-viewing opportunities. While camels aren’t as prevalent as they once were on Tenerife, you can climb aboard for a camel ride at the Camel Park on the Costa Adeje. View more than 800 species of butterflies at the Butterfly Farm in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. And while you’re in Santa Cruz, you might also feed the monkeys and iguanas at the Monkey Park.
The Great Outdoors
Given the scenic beauty of Tenerife, you and your family might want to experience its natural wonders for yourself — and you’ll have plenty of opportunity. Its mountainous landscape offers spectacular hiking, with a variety of vistas ranging from eerie lunar-like terrain to lush forest and sweeping ocean views.
You might start at Mount Teide, Tenerife’s iconic peak, with its stunning cliffs and valleys. Gaze out over the sea from Los Gigantes, the steep sea cliffs of the Teno mountain range. In Teno Rural Park, you can walk through the thrilling Masca Gorge. Perhaps you’ll stroll the orchards and banana plantations of the Orotava Valley, or visit the villages of Anaga Rural Park. Or visit Forestal Park, an adventure park with 90 activities and 11 zip lines. Another way to experience nature on Tenerife is by Segway, with instruction and tours available in various locations on the island.
Exploring Tenerife's unique coastline, volcanic landscape, and beautiful scenery by bike is a great option, too. This is a favorite among families who want to achieve better health and have fun doing it, all in a setting that is second to none! In fact, Tenerife’s moderate climate, diverse terrain, and exceptional athletic facilities make it a prime destination for professional cyclists who come here to train. For those who are not professionals, there are a number of routes for all different riding abilities. Thomas Cook has some great information on family cycling on their blog.
Watersports, Watersports Everywhere
Of course, no visit to Tenerife would be complete with immersing yourself (literally!) in all that’s available from the island’s beautiful beaches. Opportunities for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling abound — not to mention building sandcastles! And there are plenty of other activities, too, including:
Whale and dolphin watching. More than 20 species of whales and dolphins frolic in the waters between Tenerife and La Gomera — including the rare sperm whales and orcas. Los Gigantes, Los Cristianos, and Puerto Colón are your best bets for embarking a whale-watching cruise. Be sure the one you choose is affiliated with Tenerife’s Quality Tourism Services.
Submarine safaris. Commercial submarines are a rarity in today’s world: there are only 15 of them. Tenerife offers you the chance to experience the world beneath the waves from one of these vessels. Departing rom Marina San Miguel, you’ll have a crystal-clear view of an extravaganza of tropical fish, eels, starfish, and stingrays, and even shipwrecks from your own private porthole, with commentary from an expert guide. Don’t be surprised if your kids want to frame the dive certificate they receive at the end of this unique experience!
Swimming pools. For a change of pace from the beach, try Parque Maritimo César Manrique, a pool complex in Santa Cruz that also includes children’s play areas, a gym, games room, and more. Or visit El Lago Martiánez, a complex of pools in Puerto de La Cruz that is also an architectural masterpiece.
Still Looking for Something to Do?
Chances are, we’ve already given you enough ideas for family activities on Tenerife to last for weeks! But just in case you’re looking for something more, here are a few ideas:
- Karting Club Tenerife: Safe karting experiences on two circuits — Europe’s #1 international karting circuit and a small circuit for children. Video games are also available.
- Megabowl Tenerife: 10-pin bowling on Tenerife’s only state-of-the-art bowling lanes.
- PuebloChico Tenerife: A miniature village with exact reproductions of the buildings and landscapes of the islands, including exotic gardens and modern cities.
- ARTlandya Doll Museum: Artistic dolls and teddy bears in a renovated estate set in a tropical park.