The first time I travelled to Tenerife, I didn’t know what to expect. A volcanic island near the coast of Morocco, my main reason for travelling there was to simply enjoy the sand, sea and sunshine. I wasn’t disappointed!
Tenerife is part of the Canary Islands; a group of seven islands that belong to Spain. Tenerife is the largest one and boasts the third largest volcano in the world, El Teide.
Being from Portugal, I’m accustomed to the sun, and find it has the power to ‘re-charge my batteries’ after a long, cold winter. But the sun in this island is much stronger than anticipated. It’s a dryer atmosphere, with a hotter sun… different to what you find in Spain!
Where to stay
My three trips to Tenerife took me to two different hotels. I admit I have expensive taste when it comes to accommodation, especially if my plan is to relax and be pampered! My first two stays, I chose the Sheraton La Caleta Resort; a luxurious 5 star hotel with an entrance to the beach, a calm and tranquil pool, and a deluxe spa; all the things you need on a holiday! To top it off, the hotel boasts an excellent buffet breakfast and, what I consider, an exceptional buffer dinner. To explain, they offer themed buffet meals with themes ranging from Mediterranean, Spanish, South American, North American etc. But far from the stereotypical buffet sections of ‘salads’, ‘accompaniments’, ‘grilled’ etc. these offer an abundance of fresh choice and an outdoor barbeque to die for! I’m not joking when I say the food is of an exceptional quality, and you won’t find many buffets in Europe offering this calibre of choice.
The third time I travelled to this part of the world I stayed at the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel, which is in the same area. This hotel struck me with its palatial grand entrance with tall palm trees and marbled floors. The hotel itself is huge with four swimming pools but sadly no entrance to the beach. Even though this one is also a 5 star hotel, in my honest opinion it didn’t feel like it. The hotel is quite recent, built at the turn of the century, so you would expect the rooms to be grand and modern. Instead, the amenities are less than average, the shower is poorer than the one I have in my flat and the rooms are definitely not soundproof! We didn’t eat at the restaurant, but the breakfast buffet was good. I wasn’t brave enough to venture into the nudist pool area on the 6th floor, but the ground floor pool was definitely relaxing.
What to do
Tenerife is the island of entertainment and tourist attractions. Apart from relaxing on a sun lounger by the pool or at the beach, tourists have plenty of things they can do in Tenerife. With huge numbers of tourists arriving from the UK and from Russia with plenty of disposable income, the island is full of luxury shopping outlets; you’ll find everything from designer clothes and bags, jewellery and of course, cheap cigarettes and booze!
The best thing for me though was visiting the waterpark! Siam Park is incredible with some of the most daring water slides I’ve experienced. It’s built to resemble the Siamese architecture, with beautiful gardens and brickwork, but also boasts one of the steepest water slides I have ever seen. As well as being incredibly steep, the slide takes you through a see-through tunnel inside a shark tank! It’s definitely an experience you shouldn’t miss when visiting Tenerife and makes for an amazing day out! Check out the photo below with the slide I was talking about…
The downside, as with most waterparks, is the long waiting queues and the scalding floor you have to walk on with bare feet! But I guess you can’ t have everything…
Its sister park “Loro Parque” is equally fun; it’s a kind of ‘natural zoo’ with all sorts of animals from parrots (the word “loro” means parrot) to other exotic birds, reptiles, fish, dolphins, whales, monkeys, gorillas, tigers and even meerkats! It’s the kind of place you only really need to go once but makes for a great day out, no matter what age you are!
If you’re not into shopping or thrill rides, as a volcanic island, there’s also plenty of fauna and flora for the nature lovers to appreciate. As well as beautiful walks and climbs, visitors can get up close to EL Teide, an actual active volcano! I never made it that far though; like I said, Tenerife is all about relaxing for me!
Where to eat
Now onto the food stuff! The island of Tenerife is famous for a few ingredients. Being an island, of course fish is abundant, but you’d be surprise that chicken, rabbit and suckling pig are also local delicacies.
The best place to try rabbit or the local ‘garlic chicken’? El Otelo! This place is as local as it gets, set way high up on what felt like the highest point of the island. Actually, the first image on this post was taken from the restaurant- what a view right? The views from the place are breath-taking; with the mountains on one side, the city on the other. And best of all; it’s incredibly cheap and amazing food! The rabbit comes in a stew with a very rich gravy, while the chicken is deep fried and covered in garlicky goodness! It needs to be eaten with the local wrinkly potatoes ‘papas’ which come with a local red sauce known as ‘mojo’.
The ‘mojo’ sauces are famous across the island; made with a mixture of peppers, coriander, garlic and other spices; red and green in colour they’re delicious and perfect eaten with the ‘papas’ or simply dip your bread in them!
If you’re looking for fish and seafood, the best place I can recommend? La Vieja! Right by the coast- what more could you ask for when eating fish? Check out the view from the outdoor seating area. This place offers tapas, paellas and individual plates. Everything we tried was incredible from the deep friend baby squid ‘chipirones’ to the calamari, the grilled octopus to the local grilled goats cheese with honey and marmalade to the seafood paella! If you’re going for paella, try the ‘La Vieja’ paella with white fish, prawns, clams, mussels and squid- delicious! Prices aren’t cheap, but we’re talking about seafood here, it’s not supposed to be cheap!
Now for the meat lovers, there’s only one place to go: La Martina! This is by far my favourite place on the island and the waiters already know us by name! Not exactly local food, it’s an Argentinian steak house- but well worth it!
The meat is displayed in a massive fridge so you know it’s fresh and cut to order. Any steak you order here will be succulent and full of flavour- beware the portions are huge!
For starters I recommend the provoletta: melted cheese with a helping of fried chorizo. Not for the faint hearted but well worth it. Or why not be adventurous and try the grilled sweetbreads with lemon? Absolutely delicious!
For main? Anything really! From the t-bone steak to the fillet, to the Ox steak, you can’t go wrong in this place! I can recommend the ox steak (pictured above) which was a deliciously succulent and flavourful piece of meat- I was not expecting this as I’d never tried ox before. The picture you see of me with a huge plate of raw meat- that’s the ox for 2. They bring you a grill and you grill the pieces of steak to your liking- amazing! Or why not try the beef ribs pictured below? You’d expect them to be tough but in fact they’re full of flavour!
Ask the waiters for their advice, there’s a Greek waiter called Nikos who will treat you like family and make sure you leave happy! It makes me a bit sad when I visit this place and see people ordering pasta- but I won’t judge, not everyone loves meat as much as I do!
That’s it for Tenerife; as you can see I’m absolutely in love with this place and can’t wait to go back. If you’ve got any comments or have been to the island, please share your thoughts in the comments area below; I’d love to hear from you!