Close your eyes on a cold and rainy day and think of where you’d rather be…
Golden sand stretching as far as the eye can see to a mountainous horizon shimmering in the heat haze. Translucent turquoise waters kissing the patterned sand and breaking into a dozen shades of blue in the sunlight. Pavement cafes serving cold beers and vanilla ice creams to suntanned people who are watching the kite boarders and wind surfers put on their acrobatic ballet. And the warmth of the sun on your face deepening your breathing and loosening the muscles in your shoulders sending a ripple of wellbeing through your body.
Close your eyes on a cold and rainy day and think of El Médano.
Located on Tenerife’s south east coast, just a few kilometres from the south airport, El Médano is the island’s ‘coolest’ resort; Tenerife's kite boarding and wind surfing capital.
Frequented by surf dudes, families and gentle neo-hippies, El Médano’s atmosphere is laid back and friendly. There are no cabaret tribute acts, no ‘English’ bars, no tourist shops filled with tat and, just as importantly, no designer shops with prices as inflated as their egos.
There’s just the sun, the surf, the beach and the buzz of bars and restaurants that are as laid back as El Médano’s cosmopolitan mix of Europeans and Canarios.
Much quieter than its southern neighbours of Playa de Las Américas and Los Cristianos yet with just as much sunshine and as little rain, El Médano offers the perfect compromise between guaranteed sunshine and a taste of the real Tenerife.
There are three things that characterise El Médano; the regular trade winds that sweep the resort and act as a magnet for surfers; the endless natural golden sand beaches that stretch for over 3 kilometres along its coast and the best and most popular of Tenerife’s nudist beaches.
Beginning in the centre of the village where the Hotel El Médano meets the beginning of the promenade and extending the length of the village, this beach of gently shelving golden sand is a real favourite with families. Just a step away from the main Plaza de Principe de Asturía, the beach is the focal point of the village and families can spend lazy hours within easy reach of snacks, drinks and ice creams.
A children’s playground in the Plaza adds to the attractions for tots and is busy every day when school finishes. The pleasant cafes provide a place for the grown-ups to chat over coffee and some tapas while the youngsters burn off some excess energy on the climbing frames.
The soft, warm curves of the wooden boardwalk run the length of the resort towards the distinctive outline of Montaña Roja on the horizon. All along it, small sandy coves lie beneath fantastic rock formations hewn from the salt water and the wind, offering a more secluded place to sunbathe and a vantage point for watching the antics of the boarders and surfers.
Possibly the south’s most beautiful natural beach, La Tejita can be accessed on foot from El Médano by walking beyond the sand dunes towards Montaña Roja and then following the path around the base of the mountain. On the far side, one cove is a nudist beach but the rest of the entire length of the white sand with its turquoise scalloped edges lapped by the Atlantic is lying, uncluttered in the sun, just waiting for James Bond to arrive and moor his speedboat.
A small beach bar with a straw roof dispenses cold Dorada beer and you can walk barefoot along the water’s edge humming ‘Underneath the Mango Tree’ to your heart’s content.
At the far western edge of the resort is Playa Machado which is entirely given over to surfers, its fine sand strewn with sails and boards on all but the stillest of El Médano’s days.
Beyond it, wild sand dunes offer a haven for many types of indigenous plants and bird life as well as shelter from the breeze for sunbathers and some privacy for the occasional lone naturist.
Marking the easternmost edge of the resort, at the foot of the Pelada Mountain is Playa de La Pelada, one of Tenerife's best nudist beaches; a sheltered cove where you have to scrabble down the rocks to reach the sand, this is El Médano’s favourite spot to get naked.
The effort required to reach it means that it doesn’t intrude on those who like having white bits, and it’s nice and private for those who don’t.
Rounding the headland on the eastern side of the resort is where the trade winds bluster at their strongest creating a Valhalla for Tenerife's windsurfers and kite boarders and the site of International competitions.
You’ll find equipment to hire and to buy, clothing, lessons and a friendly, lively, year round posse of residents and visitors to share your day’s surf stories with.
La Farola , El Timón (922 17 66 01) and Playa Chica (922 17 72 94) all line the seafront along Paseo Marcial García and offer great food, a lively atmosphere and views over the headland from their sea-facing terraces. La Farola specialises in Galician food while El Timón and Playa Chica serve some of the best tapas you’ll find in the south of Tenerife.
Jungle Lounge Bar (922 17 98 95) is the place to head to for organic, vegetarian and healthy eating options. With tofu and seitan used to excellent effect, you get none of the meat and all of the flavour with a great chill-out atmosphere as a bonus.
Yaiza (922 17 89 52) The décor is not much more than merely functional but the food is exceptional and has kept this long established restaurant popular. Specialising in fish and meat dishes that combine taste and texture to perfection, this is definitely one for the weekend.
Siete Mesas (659 98 95 97) is located right on Plaza Asturia and, as the name suggests, has only seven tables, a cool, contemporary style and a menu which includes such tempters as ‘sea bass with pistachio and hummus’.
Agua Viva (922 17 90 64). On the boardwalk with ringside views over the aquatic displays of the sails of kite boarders and wind surfers, the menu has that ‘something for everyone’ essential ingredient for families.
This is not the resort to come to if you want your nights filled with comedy cabaret or Robbie Williams tribute acts. But if you enjoy stylish, Bohemian bars filled with friendly people discussing the day’s surf while the laid back vibes of jazz, soul and funk wash over you, then you’ll love El Médano’s chill-out scene.
Flashpoint at the western end of the boardwalk is a favourite place for surfers to enjoy a sun-downer and one of their delicious tuna salads while around Plaza Roja on the east side of the village is where you’ll find most of the late night venues like Manfred’s Soul Café, Jeip and Que pasa.
A three star family hotel built in the 1960s. Its prime position on the beach opposite Plaza Principe de Asturia puts it at the very heart of the village. It’s a bit dated in terms of its looks but the staff are friendly and there’s a great terrace on stilts over the sea which allows sand free sunbathing on El Médano’s trademark windy days.
(www.hotelplayasurtenerife.com 922 17 61 20)
A three star hotel located right at the western edge of the village on Playa El Médano. Designed by the Lanzarote born designer César Manrique, the hotel blends beautifully with its surroundings and has lots of small, Bohemian touches of design in its gardens and around the common areas in the hotel. A favourite with Tenerife's wind surfers and kite boarders, you’ve only to step outside the front door to be on the beach.
(www.hotelarenasdelmar.com 922 78 87 78)
The newest and shiniest of El Médano’s offerings. Exquisite taste and pastel shades define this contemporary hotel with its luxurious spa facilities. A good choice for romantics and the more discerning of El Médano’s visitors.
Tucked away in a pumice gulley outside of Médano is the curious cave and former home of the Canary Island’s one and only saint, Hermano Pedro, founder of the order of the Bethlehemites.
A simple sign between the town and La Tejita beach points the way to the cave, kept immaculate by a couple of elderly Canarian women, where he looked after his herd of goats prior to leaving these shores for Cuba and Guatemala; a country where he is still revered.
It’s a tranquil little spot only metres from the end of the south airport’s runway, yet unseen by the millions of people who pass over it annually.
Here at Real Tenerife, we really know Tenerife and with 'Island Drives' we'll show you the sounds, sights, tastes and memories of a truly fascinating island.