Do you want to discover more of Tenerife's 'Off the beaten track' locations, independent restaurant reviews and wonderful scenery?
If when your holiday's over, you want to go home with more than just a tan, then let 'Island Drives' show you the real Tenerife and you'll also take back the sounds, sights, tastes and memories of a truly fascinating island.
Nestling between the resorts on the south and south west coasts, the bay at El Puertito is probably what
But where is it? A small sign points the way from the TF47 just outside Armeñime on the road west to Los Gigantes.
Want to see more? Follow ‘Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route: Flower of the Valley.
Playa de los Abriguitos
The road to this beach leads through a new housing development which looks completely out of place in the barren pumice landscape. Fear not, a series of pale golden sand coves lapped by turquoise waters too tempting to resist dotted along the coast at Los Abades make for a heavenly spot to top up the tan and frolic in the surf.
But where is it? Take exit 18 sign posted Los Abades from the TF1 and follow the road to the coast.
The nearby wind farm might suggest that Playa Grande at Punta de Abona might not be the most comfortable spot to go for that golden glow, but the quiet cream coloured sloping beach is protected by the headland which curves into the sea around the beach, keeping the water and the wind relatively calm. Paths lead to the fishing hamlet above the beach, the Abona lighthouse and a small jetty with an unusual fish sculpture.
But where is it? Take exit 17 from the TF1 sign posted Poris de Abona
Medium sized beach of black volcanic sand, typical of many of the beaches in the north of the island, located on one of the most picturesque stretches of Tenerife’s coastline. The approach road winds through banana plantations and charming old haciendas to this very popular beach. On Sundays, during summer, you’ll struggle to find a space to park as cars line roadside for the kilometre or so up to the main road. The beach shelves gently into the rolling waves; perfect for people who like to keep their feet on the ground, but be warned this is a surfer’s beach, the waves here pack a punch. There’s a good little beach bar restaurant overlooking the beach.
But where is it? Follow the signs for Playa Socorro from the TF820 between Puerto de la Cruz and Icod de los Vinos, just beyond the San Pedro mirador.
Want to see more? Follow ‘Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route: Here Be Dragos.
An attractively laid out beach with plenty of parking and a unique looking restaurant, El Burgado. A pleasant coastal walk leads to a series of black sand and pebble beaches, rock pools and coves which lie below the Mirador de la Monja and the dramatic Teno Cliffs.
But where is it? The beach lies beyond Buenavista del Norte, beside the golf course of the same name.
Want to see more? Follow ‘Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route: Hidden Valley.
Playa de el Pozo and Playa de los Patos: These three coves cut into the cliffs are accessed via a single track road, which can make manoeuvring past oncoming cars quite hairy. Persevere, it’s worth the effort. The reward is a beautiful black sand beach with tsunami sized waves and a great little beach bar overlooking the bay where time can disappear very easily, especially if you’ve got an ice cold cerveza in your hand. The more adventurous can follow the path along the coast to Playa Pozo and Playa de los Patos, nudist beaches popular with surfers and people who literally want to let it all hang out; unfortunately I’ve never seen anyone do both at the same time; now that would make a good photo.
But where is it? Just outside Puerto de la Cruz, a road leads almost from the TF5 exit 32 towards El Rincon.
Playa Las Gaviotas is almost always overshadowed by its sexier, tropical paradise neighbour; Las Teresitas. Las Teresitas might be man made with Saharan sand, but it’s probably the most stunning beach on the island; magnificent backdrop, golden sand, palms and calm crystal clear lagoon-like waters. However, if you prefer a more intimate setting where the only entry requirements are that you get your kit off, then bypass Las Teresitas and follow the road east to this small black sand nudist beach at the foot of the Anaga Massif.
But where is it? About 10 kilometres beyond Santa Cruz. Access is from the TF121. Parking is limited and the beach can get very busy in summer.
Want to see more? Follow ‘Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route: Peaks into the Past
The black sand beach here is definitely for people who want to travel far from the madding crowd. Situated beside the tiny fishing hamlet of Roque Bermejo, you might struggle to find this one as there’s no road leading to the village. The only way in or out is by boat; alternatively, a two hour walk from Chamorga at the end of the TF123 will bring you to this beach at the eastern tip of Tenerife’s world.
But where is it? At the very eastern tip of Tenerife. If you don’t have access to a boat, you’re in for a long hike.
Want to see more? Follow ‘Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route: Peaks into the Past.
There’s a saying which goes along the lines of ‘there are no difficult questions only those you know the answer to and those you don’t. Tenerife's beaches are similar, you either know them, or you don't.
So whilst the beaches mentioned above are more off the beaten track, even to the many people who visit Tenerife regularly, the following beaches have a higher profile. However, if you’re a new visitor to Tenerife, you may never have heard of some of them.
The jewel in the crown of Tenerife’s beaches and without doubt the most spectacular. It’s many people’s idea of what a tropical beach should look like. A crescent shaped, lagoon-like bay with golden sand lapped by aquamarine waters teeming with tropical fish. Add palm trees and a dramatic mountain backdrop and you’ve got a perfect setting. There are changing rooms, toilets, bar restaurants and a large car park discreetly hidden behind the line of palms at the back of the beach. The man made reef makes the enclosed calm water ideal for families with young children. The only downside is that, being the east coast, it can be a tad breezy sometimes. Okay it’s a man made beach, but it looks great.
But where is it? Approx 8 kilometres beyond Santa Cruz.
Want to see more? Follow Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route ‘Peaks into the Past’.
A rarity for a beach on Tenerife, a golden(ish) beach which isn’t man made. One of the longest beaches on Tenerife, book ended on one side by El Médano and Montaña Roja on the other. A bleached wooden boardwalk runs almost the length of the beach passing surreal pumice rock formations and scores of rainbow bright windsurfers and kite-boarders. The presence of these ‘surf dudes’ should warn you that the wind is a constant companion here. It might make pretty patterns in the sand, but it isn’t always ideal for sunbathing. One of the most interesting beaches on Tenerife.
But where is it? Right beside the town of the same name.
Another pale golden beach so long and wide you could land a jumbo jet on it, which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility considering it’s right next to the airport. It’s another windy beach which makes it the ideal location for Granadilla’s annual kite festival in September. The Montaña Roja end of the beach is popular with nudists. Kite-flying and nude sunbathing…interesting combination.
But where is it? Beyond El Médano, on the other side of Montaña Roja.
Another man made affair which has been developed with panache and imagination. If a beach could feel upmarket, it’s this one. Small enough to feel intimate, it’s striped beach huts and palm frond umbrellas give it an air of St Tropez meets the Caribbean. The large volcanic rock which borders the beach’s southern side blocks out the concrete vista beyond.
But where is it? Located at the very western end of Playa de las Américas, (or as the PR people would say, the ‘exclusive’ resort of Costa Adeje).
This ‘garden beach’ is a play area for visitors and locals alike. A kilometre of black sand backed by landscaped gardens runs from the San Felipe Castle to the Punta Brava. The waves here are big and bold, which is great fun for confident youngsters, but can take the legs away from unsuspecting, more mature paddlers. The beach shelves sharply into the sea at the Puerto de la Cruz end, less so at the Punta Brava end. In between there's a small area exclusively for surfers. The beach with the best view of Teide.
But where is it? Simple, in Puerto de la Cruz.
Look at any decent map and you might find up to four ‘Playa de la Arenas’ around Tenerife’s coastline. It simply means ‘sandy beach’. The best one is found at the resort of the same name. A small, blue flag beach which is considered to be set in one of the nicest coves on Tenerife. With the most sunshine hours on the island, great views to the island of La Gomera and stunning sunsets, this is a sun worshipper’s dream.
Want to see more? Follow Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route ‘Flower of the Valley’.
A local favourite. Some 70’s style apartment blocks on one side of the beach don’t make for the prettiest of vistas, but this small beach, beside a fishing harbour and backed by fish restaurants, has a certain charm. Plus it’s set in a sheltered inlet, which makes it suitable for kids.
But where is it? On the coast below Icod de los Vinos.
Want to see more? Follow Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route ‘Here Be Dragos’.
A pebbled beach set in a sheltered bay beside the town’s harbour. Maybe once, but nowadays a faceleft has transformed it into a sandy beach. Whether nature will leave it that way is debatable; it's already taking on a distinctly two-tone look. Although barely a half hour’s drive from the sprawling main southern resorts, this is more Canarian cool, than ‘kiss me quick’in character – . Playa San Juan has a quiet style which will suit people who don’t like their beaches packed to the gunwales.
But where is it? On Tenerife’s southwest coast, on the road linking Los Gigantes with Playa de las Américas.
Want to see more? Follow Real Tenerife Island Drives’ route ‘Flower of the Valley’.
How are black sand beaches formed?
When molten lava flows into the sea it's cooled rapidly by the water, forming glassy black basalt rock. Over time these rocks are eroded by the sea into grains and washed up on the shore and 'hey presto' a black sand beach is formed. Most of the beaches along Tenerife's northern and western coastline are black sand as a result of the island's volcanic origins.
Are there differences between black sand and golden sand?
Black sand is coarser, heavier. Which means when a sudden breeze blows up, the sand doesn't.
Being that bit coarser also means that it's easier to brush off and remove from awkward crevises (if you get my drift) when dry.
However it does retain the heat and gets very hot. At the peak of summer it can feel as if you're being fried from below. Any attempts to reach the sea barefooted are just foolhardy, but it's very funny watching others try. Especially men, who set off trying to look cool, their pace quickening with every step until by the time they're halfway to the cooling waters they've broken into a sprint that would make olympic athletes look sluggish.
Black sand beaches can be as beautiful as their golden counterparts, they're certainly more unique. When people think of tropical paradises, the Hawaiin Islands often spring to mind and guess what... they're also volcanic islands with black sand beaches.
It can be a popular misconception that ‘locals’ don’t do touristy things like go to the beach; Tinerfeños love an outing to the beach. Throughout summer, especially at weekends, the beaches on Tenerife are full of locals enjoying the sun, sand and sea. However, if manicured beaches with perfectly aligned rows of sun beds leave you cold, don’t worry there are plenty of alternatives waiting to be discovered along Tenerife’s diverse coastline. Whether you’re seeking monster surf for a bit of body boarding, secluded coves and scenic shores to chill out, or have decided that the two-tone look is so eighties and it’s time that your white bits matched the rest of your body, Tenerife’s beaches have got the lot with plenty of nudist, black sand and golden sand beaches off the beaten track to suit; provided you know where to look…
Fancy seeing Tenerife's fabulous underwater world but prefer to keep your feet dry? Then why not take a trip on a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine (apologies to anyone under 40 who doesn't get the Beatles reference!).
Whilst Tenerife is known for its spectacular scenery above the waves, there’s even more incredible sights waiting to be discovered by novice and experienced divers who dare to venture beneath Tenerife’s clear blue waters.
Some Classic Diving Sites on Tenerife
Some of the best Diving on Tenerife can be found around the Las Galletas area in the south of Tenerife.
A setting that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bond movie. A rusting, Spanish coaster, which sank in 1973, lies on the seabed, hull and engine room intact; its cargo of cement sacks still in its hold. Moray eels, 1m long trumpet fish, and shoals of sardines decorate its decaying structure.
A very popular site where shoals of up to twenty rays, including eagle, manta and stingrays, glide over golden sands and around a small wreck, breaking off formation only to feed from the hands of divers.
An altogether different diving experience. A wall of black volcanic rock descends in a series of gigantic steps, like a stairway for some mythical aquatic giant. Divers descend past barracuda, trigger fish, shoals of mackerel and African grunt to a sea ledge from which dolphins and tuna can occasionally be spotted.
Cuevo del Palm-Mar
For the more experienced divers on Tenerife, the tempting mysteries of the enormous cavern are a sobering reminder that the sea can be ruthless; a plaque at the entrance to the cavern is dedicated to divers who have lost their lives exploring the cave. Nearby, a statue commemorates the most famous diver of them all; Jacques Cousteau.
Although the Las Galletas area boasts some of the most popular dive sites, there are plenty of other treasures to be explored elsewhere around the island’s coastline.
These include the wreck of a DC3 plane below the cliffs near El Sauzal. A surreal black basalt undersea city that at Los Gigantes; shipwrecks around Santa Cruz harbour and the overspill of volcanic eruption creating weird and wonderful formations in Garachico harbour.
Tenerife may not have as great a reputation for diving as the famous coral reefs of the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, but the tunnels, caves and strange formations created by its volcanic origins create an undersea experience to rival anywhere in the world.
As you would expect from resorts developed so that visitors could enjoy the perfect sun, sea and sand holidays, the south of Tenerife’s coastline boasts a number of attractive sandy beaches with plenty of facilities and a choice of water sports to keep the more energetic holidaymakers happy when they get bored of topping up their tans. But it’s not all man-made, perfectly manicure beaches; there are also some wilder, more rugged options for those who prefer their beaches the way nature intended them.
Playa Fañabe stretches from the upmarket Del Duque area of the resort to the more budget friendly Torviscas and is also home to the Iceberg Park, a big inflatable iceberg – the only kind of iceberg that isn’t going to melt in these temperatures.
Next along is Playa la Pinta, a small pleasant golden sand beach bordered on one end by El Faro’s mock lighthouse and cannon and the Puerto Colón Marina on the other.
Quite surprisingly much of the Playa de las Américas coastline hasn’t been turned into man made beaches and the area which runs from the border with Costa Adeje at Playa Troya II to Punta del Camisón is quite rocky with a few rock pools and only a handful of sun beds. This undeveloped quality makes it perfect for people who prefer a more natural looking coastline and it’s a popular spot for local surfers to ride the waves.
Around the corner from Playa del Camisón is arguably the south of Tenerife’s best beach, Playa las Vistas, a long golden sand beach which links Playa de las Américas with Los Cristianos. There are rows upon rows of sun loungers, but the size of the beach absorbs them. A huge fountain at the shoreline near the midway point of the beach keeps sunbathers cool when temperatures go ballistic.
One of the most commendable qualities of Play las Vistas is that facilities include specially developed areas for people with mobility problems which include amphibian chairs – part of Arona council’s commitment to creating a barrier free paradise which can be enjoyed by all, able bodied or otherwise.
Los Cristianos boasts not one, but two good beaches. The town beach of Playa Los Cristianos is only marginally less impressive than las Vistas, but it does overlook the harbour so it’s a great spot for watching the comings and goings of the inter island ferries, pleasure cruises and fishing boats. There’s a volley ball court at the rear of the beach as well as a sailing school for anyone who fancies a bit of tacking and jibing.The further along the beach you travel, the less people there are and the less developed it is until you reach Playa Callao below Montaña de Guaza, a real get-away-from-it-all beach hardly a stone’s throw from one of the south of Tenerife’s main tourist resorts.
Both of Los Cristianos' main beaches have been developed so that people with mobility problems can enjoy being at the beach and playing in the water as much as anybody else. It's part of the town's commitment to creating a holiday destination for everyone.