For years the Canary Island of Tenerife has been famous for being the volcanic Blackpool of the Atlantic.
It’s been where Brits lounge in the sun for a week, for very little money thanks to all the wonderful tour operators and their tempting packages, and eat familiar food, drink familiar drinks and even watch familiar television. It’s a home from home and for many people the last place on earth they’d would want to holiday. But poor old Tenerife is being cruelly under-valued. If you want all the things mentioned above then you’re likely to find yourself in the southern towns, probably in the aptly named Playa de las Americas. But if you want to see a totally different side to Tenerife, it’s only about half an hour up the road.
The northwestern side of the island is like being on a completely different island altogether. Gone are the hoards of sun-burnt tourists screaming for Eastenders and gone are the poor locals having to make a living by putting up with their abuse. Up in the north, you have the real Tenerife.
Hire a car and then make a decision that could affect the rest of your life. If you go up the west side of the island then you’re looking at a very skillful drive to the dizzy heights of the mountain route, but if you fancy playing it safe then you’re going to have to go all the way around the eastern side but on the much safer (sort of) TF-1 and TF-2 motorway. If you’re coming from the airport though it’s fine, as you just have to get across the north side, he says.
However you get there, veer the car towards the town of Garachico. It’s what Tenerife must have looked and felt like fifty or so years ago. Garachico is a small fishing town that makes you feel like you’re in southern Spain. The quiet streets are dotted with a few bars, cafes and gift shops and there are a few great fish restaurants down by the harbour, as you’d expect. The town would have looked a great deal different a few hundred years ago, as Mount Tiede erupted and more or less destroyed the entire area in 1706. It’s profited from the eruption though and you can bath in some of the black rock pools down by the beach.
Right next door to Garachico is the slightly smaller town of Icod de los Vinos, which houses perhaps the island’s most prized possession. The Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco) stands proudly in a preserved garden and is said to be around 1000 years old. There hasn’t actually been any scientific proof of this though, and it’s probably more likely to only be in the hundreds, but don’t tell the Icondenses. The town isn’t just about the old tree. It houses some of the most interesting historical buildings on the island such as the Convent of San Augustin and the Church of San Marcos. There is also an amazing tropical garden, complete with butterfly population.
If you want to more or less guarantee hot and sunny weather and want to prove the critics wrong, then the north west side of Tenerife is the new north side of Majorca.
Photo of sculpture by Kan Yasuda, Garachico, Tenerife orginally posted by extranoise