Adventure #8: Tenerife: Where Life’s a Beach

Orotava Beach

’Tis the season … to think about your winter vacation. For most people, the perfect get-away is a land warmed by a golden sun, where pristine beaches are bathed in ocean surges and opportunities abound for everything from surfing, jet skiing, and parasailing to strolling a promenade or relaxing in a hammock or on the sands. Such a land is Tenerife, an island bounded by beautiful beaches — including 11 that have earned the prestigious Blue Flag designation.

The Blue Flag was developed by the Foundation for Environmental Education, which rates beaches around the world according to 33 criteria in the categories of environmental education, water qualify, environmental management, and safety and services. It is an honor that must be earned annually. In 2015, the Canary Islands were, well, awash in Blue Flags, earning 41 overall. Tenerife was second only to Gran Canaria, which has 13 Blue Flag beaches. But Blue Flags are not the only reason to choose to spend your holidays on Tenerife’s dozens of beaches, which feature everything from volcanic black sands to beaches resembling a golden fleece that lured the Argonauts of legend.

Many of the island’s most celebrated beaches line its southern shore. Located at the western tip of Costa Adeje, Playa del Duque is revered for its clean golden sands, seafront promenade, and excellent facilities and services, including restaurants, boutiques, parasol service, and showers and changing rooms. Need we add that it has a Blue Flag?

Other Blue Flag beaches on Costa Adeje include Playa Fañabé and Playa Torviscas — which together comprise one long stretch of sand, with a promenade, watersports, and glass-bottom boat excursions — and Playa Troya, also popular for its watersports. In this region, you’ll also find Tenerife’s most famous beach: Playa de Las Américas. Offering calm waters for swimming, a wealth of watersports, and a boutique-lined promenade, Playa de Las Américas is even better known as the party capital of the island.

Bordering Costa Adeje to the east is Costa Arona, where you can indulge in three of the island’s finest beaches. Among the most popular is Playa Las Vistas, where you can enjoy a wealth of amenities, including food stands, beach umbrellas, hammocks, and a seawater-spouting fountain. At Playa El Camisón, a breakwater that protects the beach from dangerous currents and big waves results in some of the best swimming on the island, and you’ll also find an inviting promenade. Or walk to the town of Los Cristianos along the Marine Walk leading from Playa de Los Cristianos.

Continuing eastward, you’ll come to the Granadilla de Abono region, whose premier beach is Playa La Tejita. Just over a half-mile long, it doesn’t offer many amenities but is more popular for its natural setting — and for its naturists. (There is a non-nudist stretch, too, if you prefer.) This region is also home to Playa El Médano, known as much for its nightlife as for its watersports. Popular with surfers, this Blue Flag beach also hosts the annual World Kite Surfing Championship.

The north coast also has its share of fine beaches. Just a quarter-mile long, Playa Bollullo is among the most beautiful and highly acclaimed beaches on Tenerife. Inaccessible by road, it is a tranquil and secluded gem of black volcanic sands reached by way of a half-hour walk through banana plantations. Facilities are limited, so bring your sunscreen, and be cautious of swimming, as currents can be strong even when the sea appears calm.

The artistry of nature and humankind come together at the Playa Jardin, a Blue Flag beach designed by César Manrique in Puerto de La Cruz. A native of the Canary Island of Lanzarote, Manrique designed a masterpiece that blends beach and garden into a picture-postcard landscape. Relax here on soft volcanic sands, or stroll the promenade amid tropical plants and flowers, waterfalls, and pools, with views of Mount Teide in the distance.

Another north-coast, Blue Flag beach is Playa El Socorro, a favorite among surfers. Use caution when swimming here, as the swells can be strong.

Perhaps you’d like to sample the beaches of the west coast. Playa San Juan in the Guia de Isora region is a serene Blue Flag beach with many unique features, including canoeing, a promenade that encircles the local village, and a restored, 19th-century lime kiln. It is also ideal for a romantic cocktail at sunset.

Perhaps you’ll also raise a sundowner at the Playa de La Arena, a Blue Flag, black-sand beach in the west coast’s Santiago del Teide region. This beach is renowned for its warm sun, beautiful setting, and resort amenities. It is also considered one of the most family-friendly beaches on the island.

And if you prefer to remain in the metropolitan area, you’ll also be in luck. Located just over four miles from the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, pretty Playa La Teresitas features a mile of golden sand (imported from the Sahara) and offers good swimming. Excellent seafood restaurants are also nearby, in the former fishing village of San Andrés.

With such an abundance of world-class beaches at the tips of your fingers (and toes), a warm-weather getaway to Tenerife is bound to be a vacation you will always remember.

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