Arriving In Tenerife
Tenerife was the final Canary Island we visited on this trip. They were all quite different. Lanzarote was an arid volcanic mountain with stunning scenery. La Palma was a green and lush oasis. Tenerife was the most developed island. There are about 1 million inhabitants and 6 million tourists. With so many tourists, there are many things to do on Tenerife.
We arrived in the busy port early in the morning. The city sprawled around the port with the volcanic peaks behind it.
Tenerife means snow covered mountain. The extinct volcano Mount Teide rises more than 12,000 feet, distinguishing it as the highest elevation in Spain. Measured around its base, it ranks as the world’s third largest volcano. The entire surrounding national park has been deemed a World Heritage Site. The peak of Mount Teide was buried in clouds when we arrived. We hoped that the clouds would move out before we arrived!
When we visited La Palma, we had a very small group on a large bus. Our bus trip in Tenerife started with several late people. This did not bode well for the many stops on this tour. We might see a large variety of things to do in Tenerife but we would be waiting a lot.
Driving Along The Spine Of the Island
When we went in and out of the port, we got a good view of the opera building. We saw some of the city on our transit through. But we did not return to the port early enough to explore more.
The bus got on the highway and headed towards the village of La Laguna. This was the island’s capital nearly 300 years ago. It was a steady drive up and we soon hit 2000′ ASL (above sea level). We could see the cloud line and in no time we were in the clouds. Then we got above the clouds into the sunshine.
Our drive took us along Tenerife’s inland spine through the lush pine forest of Esperanza. About 46% of the island is protected in several large national parks. Hiking in the parks is definitely one of the things to do on Tenerife. As we drove we got occasional glimpses of the shoreline through the trees and clouds at this level.
There used to be another mountain on the island 170,000 years ago at 16,000’ ASL. This volcano disappeared by gravity collapse and several new volcanos then formed. The remaining piece of the asymmetric cone shows the direction of the wind.
Heading To Mount Teide
We left the trees and started our mountain climb. All around we saw rocks, lava and moonlike vistas. We saw the birthday cake layering of the rocks.
The scenery reminded us very much of travelling through the Timanfaya National Park on Lanzarote Island.
Views of Mount Teide
We got our first view of Mount Teide when we stopped at a construction light. We hoped that the clouds would move out and not obscure our view when we got closer. Far below us we could see La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz. These were later stops on our tour.
No cruise ship excursion is complete without at least one stop for shopping. Our refreshment break got us hot chocolate and local cookies for a snack. Many people decided to shop instead of eat.
The bus kept climbing to the observation point. We got our first complete view of Mount Teide. Off in the distance we could see the observatories overlooking the mountain.
The clouds quickly moved in and out over Mount Teide. There is a cable car to go to the top of the mountain. But it was closed due to bad weather. Seeing the towering Mount Teide is on the top of the list of things to do on Tenerife!
Another View Of The Peaks
The rain finally caught us as we started down from the observation point. We had one more stop on our trip down at Canadas Del Teide. This provided us with a vantage point for admiring this stark wilderness over the nearby Ucanca Valley.
The wind howled and the rain poured down. Most people stayed in the bus and did not get out. But we buttoned up our coats to see the view. Luckily the rain stopped as we walked. It was a great view of stone pillars.
The vistas from the viewpoint were stunning. We could see down to the caldera and La Cathedrale. The view was definitely worth battling the wind and rain. It is one of the things to do on Tenerife that many people miss if they just see Mount Teide from the other side.
When we were leaving, we saw a public transit bus labeled Canadas Del Teide. This may be an option to get a view without renting a car.
Heading Into The Valley
We headed down towards the sea and our next stop at La Orotava. This is an elevated area known for the numerous banana plantations carpeting the countryside. This elevated land is the result of a landslide. The bus pulled into an observation point. We could see the dense forest we would drive through. Below that was the seaside and the towns on this coast of Tenerife that were our final stops.
The drive down took us an hour. Most of it was through a pine forest. The roads were narrow and the ride was wild. There was barely enough room for a car to pass the bus. When we came to an area where we had to pass a bus, it required excellent driving skills. There was often mere inches between vehicles and rock walls.
At one point, our driver pointed out the rose rock on the side of the road. When we looked at our pictures afterwards, the rock did indeed look like a flower.
When we finally left the forest, we entered the upper agricultural valley. There were several small towns to pass through as we moved down into the valley. We could see the towns cascading down the hills.
A Walking Tour of La Oratava
A walking tour in La Oratava presented the city’s charms. It was a quaint and colourful little town. Everywhere we looked we found decorative balconies that the Canary Islands are known for. As we walked through the town, we had several vantage points over the red roofs and church steeples.
Our guide matched us up and down hills. There were 40 people in the group with varying physical capabilities. So it was not really surprising that after an hour walk we lost two people. Our guide stayed behind while we went to lunch. One was found but we suspected the other guy bailed and got a taxi back to the ship. He had complained at every turn. Sadly he abandoned his wife. He was there waiting for our bus when we returned.
The House of Balconies
The House of Balconies (La Casa De Los Balcones) house was one of the named tourist stops. Our guide marshalled the large group and provided instructions and timing for our visit. For a small admission fee, we saw a small part of the house when we went to the inside courtyard. For another fee, you could explore more.
The Casa Del Turista house across the street was mostly a shopping stop. There was an interesting display of a sand rug. Sand rugs are used to decorate the public squares for holidays.
Finishing Up With The Gardens of La Oratava
We started at the Botanical Garden on our walk. The giant ferns and the very tall Dragon Tree were a big draw. We would learn much more about Dragon Trees when we visited Pico in the Azores Islands.
We finished at the tour at the Victoria Gardens. The gardens were in bloom and beautiful. The tiered structure provides the setting for an empty marble mausoleum. There were great panoramic views from the gardens.
Beside the Victoria Gardens is the Liceo do Taoro mansion.
We saw so much as we wandered the town. A walking tour of La Oratava would certainly be on my list of things to do on Tenerife.
Finishing Up In Puerto De La Cruz
A traditional Canarian lunch was waiting for us at the Hotel Tigaiga when we finally showed up. We were very late at this point due to the time required to wrangle such a large group on a walking tour. The lunch was less fancy than most we have had on our tour of the Canary Islands. But it was a welcome break from the walking tour. The view from the restaurant gave us a view of Puerto De La Cruz below us.
Our final stop was the small seaside town of Puerto De La Cruz. Our guide told us we had only 30 minutes left to visit. He was not risking us missing our sailing time! The bus dropped us off at the MacDonald’s under the Las Vegas Hotel. This would be an easy spot for people to find to get back on the bus.
We strolled along the seaside promenade enjoying this little seaside town.
At the waterfront, we watched the waves pound in. Several hearty souls were actually in the water.
At the other end there was a large pool. That was a much calmer spot for people who wanted to swim.
There were souvenir shops along the beachfront. We saw the bright yellow train that went to the zoo and amusement park. Certainly one of the things to do on Tenerife if you visited with children.
A visit to Puerto De La Cruz should be on your list of things to do on Tenerife. It looked like a great resort town if you wanted to visit for longer than a day trip.
Variety In The Things To Do On Tenerife
It was a busy day. The climb up to the mountain took a long time but it was worth it for the view. Our trip back down was slow on the twisty roads. But it was an adventure too! Luckily once you got down on the other side there are faster ways to make your way back to port.
There was a great variety in the things to do on Tenerife. We went from larger towns to volcanos to seaside towns. There are many resorts on Tenerife to visit. We did not get to try the water sports but scuba diving in Tenerife has been on our list. Once we realized how cold the water was, we decided that we would need to return with the right scuba diving gear.
This was our last Canary Island. We had loved the variety we had found travelling from Lanzarote to La Palma to Tenerife. The Canary Islands would definitely go on our list of places to return. Our next stop was Madeira Island. This would be yet one more in the chain of volcanic islands in the North Atlantic. And the first stop on our 4 weeks in Portugal!
Have you explored the things to do in Tenerife? What was your favourite?