Tenerife and the Canary Islands as a whole are often regarded as the Caribbean of Europe—sun-seeking Northerners making their way south to indulge in exotic fruits, turquoise waters and bask in the warm sun. Which isn’t all that far from the truth, actually.
But for those who just can’t sit still, it is worth noting that Tenerife isn’t just about tanning sessions. There is a surprisingly large amount of things to do on the island, especially around the capital, but also in most cities along the coast. Which, if you are anything like me, is a good thing (as in I cannot, for the life of me, get a tan without simultaneously getting a third-degree burn).
Things to Do in Tenerife
Go Scuba Diving or Snorkelling
Tenerife boasts some of Europe’s clearest waters and most fascinating underwater wildlife, making it the ideal destination to get your scuba diving certification at one of the many PADI centres, including Los Gigantes Diving Centre (ask for Sheila!). But if you are a bit less adventurous, snorkelling is also a lot of fun and much less complicated—no heavy equipment, no technique—just good fun spying on the fish and turtles of the mysterious Atlantic Ocean.
Hike the Teide Volcano
Regardless of where you are on the island, it’s impossible to miss the Teide Volcano. It is quite massive: 3,718 meters high, to be precise, making it the third highest volcano in the world. The volcano and the national park surrounding it were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, and it’s easy to see why once you set foot there. The thrill of being on an active volcano, the scenery over the island and the turquoise ocean, as well as the fauna (look out for cute green-tailed lizards!) are a true delight for adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.
Go on a Whale Sighting Cruise
Head to the Los Gigantes port, hop on one of the many cruises and cross your fingers that the bottlenose dolphins and the short-finned pilot whales will make an appearance. A three-hour cruise with lunch and a snorkelling stop will set you back around 30 euros per person, but I assure you that it is worth every centime.
Watch the Sunset
If your idea of a fun evening is watching the best sunsets of your life while sipping delicious Spanish wine, you are in luck. The western side of Tenerife offers some of the most striking sunsets in the world. Even after a week in the Canary Islands, sunset watching just doesn’t get old when it’s that spectacular, every night.
Chat with the Locals at the City Square
Head to the city square and swap stories of life and travel with the locals over a few Doradas—the local beer. You’ll discover that despite language barriers, evocative hand gestures, tons of smiles, a good laugh and a Spanish-English phrasebook can make just about anything possible. This is definitely one of the simplest yet most fulfilling things to do in Tenerife.
Marvel at the Architecture
As if the scenery alone wasn’t worth the trip, the Canary Islands and Tenerife are also filled with quaint churches and quirky city squares so charming that it’s hard to resist stopping for a quenching drink or an ice cream. Ornate balconies, colourful stairways and white-washed houses come together in a mix that is truly Spanish and lovely.