The north of Tenerife often gets wrongly classed as being cool, cloudy and damp most of the year. It doesn’t matter how many times anyone says, exasperated, “I wouldn’t stay/visit there if it was like that”, there’s always folk who know better, usually someone who doesn’t know the place very well, or who always picks the time of year to visit that we advise friends and family to avoid (November).
It’s hellishly annoying when so many people spout the same tired and incorrect perceptions.
But where the north suffers from bad PR about the weather, the south of Tenerife has its own cross to bear. Whilst the north of Tenerife’s image often keeps a certain type of sun-seeking traveller away, the south’s image, ironically, conversely does the same for travellers with differing tastes.
I did a quick online check relating to people’s views of the south of Tenerife and the following are some examples of what came up.
“This is the ugly part of the island with little vegetation, but with all the high class resorts…”, “If what you need is sea and sun near a swimming pool in a good hotel that caters for everything and you do not mind rather ugly surroundings, then the Southern part of Tenerife is the right place…”, “Personally, I loved the climate in Tenerife but hated the surroundings-nothing to see and shops that are the same everywhere in Europe…”, “Tenerife is just a load of hotels and self catering joints, many scummy, but lots decent, a few 5 star, all over the place. that and an endless amount of restaurants and mini supermarkets and souvenir shops…”, “a very friendly English speaking Island …rather felt I was in Britain !!! Even some places had prices in Pounds.”
The problem is some people confuse the south with an image which has been too often portrayed in the UK press (just about every travel article about La Gomera includes a negative comparison to the brash resorts of its neighbour, Tenerife). Others have their views moulded by a very limited experience of staying in one of the purpose-built resorts. What they give away by their comments is they’ve not really explored their surroundings much beyond the hotel where there staying. If they did, they’d discover the south of Tenerife is much more than a handful of holiday resorts.
The landscape at the coast is arid, and parts aren’t particularly aesthetically pleasing, but there is also beauty in the windswept rocks of the south east; there are hidden oasis in ravines, the further up the hill you travel the more traditional Tenerife makes its personality known and pines, vines and potato crops add more and more greenery to the landscape.
Here are six scenes of south Tenerife which show the many contrasts of the south of Tenerife waiting to be discovered by those who leave the sunbeds and explore on foot.
The Barranco del Infierno, Adeje
One of the most popular walks on Tenerife, mainly due to its proximity to the main resort area which makes it easy for people to access. You get streams, leafy glades and a waterfall within a hop, skip and a jump from the legions of sun loungers at the coast.
Montaña Roja, El Médano
The landscape around El Médano is a classic example that arid doesn’t necessarily mean unattractive. The pumice formations along the beach have been shaped by an artistic wind; there’s a hidden sea lagoon; the natural beaches are the best in the south, and Montaña Roja is a red marvel.
Pines, vines and potatoes in Vilaflor
The south boasts one of the prettiest towns on the island, Vilaflor. Part of its charm is thanks to its old streets and lovely plaza. The other part lies in its picturesque location amidst the pines and vines, an area where you’re more likely to spot woodpeckers than anywhere else on Tenerife.
San Blas Barranco
Another pumice wonderland, but one with surprises, is to be discovered in the San Blas Barranco between Golf del Sur and Los Abrigos. The intervention of man has added some ‘features’ to the ravine, but these are positive additions which help reveal a face of the south which has nothing to do with tourism. Plus you get one of the Tenerife’s most unexpected views, this emerald lagoon.
Roque del Conde
It’s not the prettiest walking route on Tenerife in our opinion, but the path to the Roque del Conde’s plateau gives glimpses into life in the south in the past. Old threshing circles; dark ravines inhabited by goats; ruins of traditional cottages; views of La Gomera and the land behind the resorts; a tragic tale of a Guanche king, and women walking in their bras (something we’ve only ever encountered on a couple of routes in the south) are some of the features along the way.
Montaña Amarilla, Costa del Silencio
One of the standout sights on Tenerife, Montaña Amarilla is a wonder of a rock, a multi-layered natural masterpiece partially hidden by one of Tenerife’s less attractive resorts. In fact the pleasant coastal route leading to it from Golf del Sur passes what looks like a high rise squat on the edge of Costa del Silencio immediately before you reach the yellow mountain. It adds a real yin and yang element, but doesn’t ultimately detract from what is a ‘wow’ of a sight. If anything the contrast enhances the impact.
These are only a selection of places which cover quite a small area from Costa Adeje to El Médano to illustrate the south of Tenerife isn’t just made up of tourist resorts. Pull on the boots and take to the hills, or coastal paths, and you discover a Tenerife which still remains unknown to too many visitors.
Next time we’ll look at six scenes from the west of Tenerife.