Affordable options make Tenerife a popular vacation spot

Story and photos by Thomas Warner
contributing writer

The most affordable non-stop flights to Tenerife depart daily from Frankfurt, whisking people away to a destination that both satisfies the craving for a beach and doesn’t take too much of a bite out of one’s wallet.
A possession of Spain, Tenerife is the largest of the chain of Canary Islands located a few hundred kilometers west of Morocco, in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s popularity as a warm-weather tourist destination is due in part to its massive and well-advertised beaches but the waters surrounding this lovely locale often end up being colder than what was hoped for by people who plan the trip. Sea temperatures at this point above the equator simply do not ever get much higher than 75 F (24 C) but you will get used to it pretty quickly.
Scuba excursions and full-day beach trips are a top choice for people who go to any of these islands, where it’s warm enough coming out of the water to quickly dry off and feel marvelous under the ubiquitous sunlight. Beaches, or playas in Spanish, are calmest when not situated in too much of a cove or inlet, but wave action can be found at several really nice beaches around the island. The most-visited family beach in Tenerife might be Playa de Los Cristianos, which can be accessed by at least two of the city bus lines that run around the island.
Playa de las Teresitas is also family friendly and remember to bring some extra loose euro because most beaches charge to rent out a space to reserve a few wooden beach chairs. The designed inlet at Teresitas is calm and teeming with underwater sights that will delight snorkelers. On all of the playas there are scattered beach spots that serve good food and drink when the time presents itself. Planning most of the trip, or at least portions of each day, will save visitors a lot of money because there are so many interesting and not-too-expensive things to do here and throughout the Canary Islands.
A water park with lots of slides is Siam Park, which is said to be one of the best such recreational outlets. The park has long lines at times and is virtually empty at others. Still, with three children between the ages of 3 and 9, we would have been better off choosing one of the island’s other water parks, which didn’t have height restrictions on most of the slides. Researching this would have made for more memories and given us more bang for the bucks we spent. At Siam Park, too, the top attraction – an extremely steep slide from the park’s highest point – wasn’t even open the day we were there.
Tourists often rent cars on Tenerife and pile all their beach gear into the trunk for a day of tooling around away from their hotel or condo home base. The island has an almost completely circular highway road that is hard to get lost on and a top attraction many people seek out is the Mount Teide volcano. The Canary Islands are home to several volcanoes and Teide is a destination that can be hiked up to once the car is parked and secured. Planning time for traversing the circuitous island route and actually getting up close and personal with Teide will not disappoint, so pack a picnic lunch and some sunblock to make a full day of it.
Restaurants are prevalent throughout the various towns around the island and most accept or require reservations, which can ease the process of taking a large group to supper each night. Daytime meals of breakfast and lunch are more geared to constant tourist traffic and no call ahead is required. Just up from Playa de los Cristianos is a place called Delicias Del Mar that is outstanding in that you choose from a variety of fresh caught seafood presented on ice. The dress code is always favorable to anyone who walks through the door.
Keep in mind, too, that there are always going to be respected grocery stores within walking distance that have just about any item one could desire and it makes good sense to utilize these outlets to keep one’s domicile stocked with liquid refreshments, chips and snacks, sandwich meat, bread, and condiments. There are ways to spend a whole lot of money on a trip like this and one such method is to eat out at a restaurant for every meal while you are on the island. Show prudence and you will be fine.
Spots not to miss if you do rent a car or taxi are many, but the list always begins with the Los Gigantes sea cliffs. The spectacular view is best if you can take it in from a boat but we saw other angles that also gave superior sightlines when we left our rented chateau and drove north on Highway 1 less than 20 kilometers. Some friends of ours just returned from more than a week on the island and rented a dune buggy, while other options such as scooters and jet skis are as prevalent as you would find in Mallorca or Cozumel.
Guided tours and excursions are set up all over the island and tons of hawkers can be seen each day passing out pamphlets and luring people to sign up. The truth is, though, that it’s better to research things ahead of time via the Internet, then get your own vehicle to tackle the bucket list on your own. For instance, some of the best hiking is through the Anaga Mountains and National Park on the northeastern expanse of Tenerife. This is safe, secure, and redeeming with its natural beauty of various landscape and rock formations. Rent the car or SUV, pack the provisions, and set out on your own adventure. Tenerife does not disappoint!