A former fishing village, the bustling, colourful harbour is still the beating heart of Los Cristianos, placing it at the doorway to the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma and lending it its touch of Canarian character, absent from its newer and shinier westerly neighbours.
As late as 1955 Los Cristianos was a hot, dusty fishermen’s shanty with just 1,200 residents. Then a Swedish broadcaster suffering from MS discovered the curative properties of its climate and within 40 years its population had grown tenfold and Los Cristianos found itself firmly on the mass tourism map.
In deference to its roots, wheelchair access is still high on Los Cristianos’ agenda making it Tenerife’s most disability friendly resort.
Accused of looking a little tired compared to her upwardly mobile neighbour, Los Cristianos is tidying her skirts and re-doing her face; the plastic chairs are being replaced by rattan, the torn umbrellas by straw parasols and the recently extended promenade is elegantly landscaped and furnished.
With newfound style and a Canarian culture, Los Cristianos might just have found a winning formula.
And everywhere you look, the sea dominates the life it spawned here; the daily ferries to the other western islands dwarf the fishing boats in the harbour; ticket offices entice trips to see dolphins and whales, go deep sea fishing or gaze through glass bottom boats; fishing boats unload and string mackerel portside and sailing boats, kayaks and pedalos tack across the horizon.
Room with a View
Hotel Oasis Moreque (3*). The somewhat dated looking exterior of this hotel doesn’t do it any favours but the rooms are big and bright and if you request a sea facing room you can enjoy ringside views over the harbour and romantic sunsets over the enigmatic La Gomera.
(0034) 922 790 366; www.h10hotels.com; double room and breakfast from €114 per night)
The Quiet Life
Arona Gran Hotel (4*). Set at the southern end of the bay, the Arona Gran offers luxury, style and tranquillity from the moment you step into its cavernous lobby dripping with foliage. (0034) 922 750 678; www.springhoteles.com; double room with breakfast from €172 per night)
Aguilas Jungle Park
South Tenerife’s answer to Loro Park in Puerto de la Cruz isn’t quite as impressive as its northern counterpart. However, with thrilling bird of prey displays (don’t take the pet Chihuahua), exotic bird exhibitions, the jungle raid along rope bridges and tunnels, apes, lions, meerkats and loads of other cutesy animals it’s a lot of fun.
(0034 922 729 010; www.aguilasjunglepark.com)
Playa de Los Cristianos
In the centre of the resort alongside the busy port is the equally golden but smaller Playa de Los Cristianos which has all the same facilities as Las Vistas and a well used beach volleyball court which provides spectator sport for those who break a sweat just watching. Behind the beach, the long promenade provides no end of playthings including amusement arcades, crazy golf and petanca courts.
Playa Callao lies beyond the Arona Gran Hotel. It's sand is rock strewn and unkempt for those who prefer their beaches a little more ‘au natural’, which is also what some of the sunbathers are apt to be.
Roll back the years and head along Paseo Marítimo to the bars around Chicago’s where the likes of Billy Idol and Rod Stewart imitators perform nightly; the eighties will never die as long as tribute acts remain popular.
Mestizo’s in the same area and Groucho’s in the centre of town provide more bohemian sanctuaries to those who view cabaret bars as an anathema.
However, it’s in C.C. San Telmo where the resort’s dark nocturnal heart starts beating a heady rhythm as the night progresses and those who head for home before midnight might never know what they’re missing. On one side, wide terraces belonging to wine, tapas and cocktail bars overlook Playa de Las Vistas, whilst on the roadside, tables and chairs ranging in style from chrome retro minimalist to rich chocolate coloured rattan chairs and leafy ferns give San Telmo’s arched terraces a 21st century Colonial aspect.
The place in town to mix it with the locals is La Tasca de Mi Abuelo (CC San Marino; (+34) 922 794 466; closed Monday). A wonderful tapas menu includes mushrooms wrapped in Serrano ham. You might even get treated to some live music courtesy of the owner…if he’s had enough to drink.
Camarones and cervesa (shrimps and beer) are the perennial favourite in Tenerife’s fishing villages; La Taberna del Puerto (C/Dulce María Loainz, 12; (+34) 922 796 277) serves this and other classic tapas dishes in inviting voguish, rustic surroundings.
Italian restaurants are always a good bet to please all the family and Los Cristianos has so many that visitors could be forgiven for thinking they’re in a province of Italy rather than Spain. One of the oldest and most dependable is the Little Italy Taberna (Paseo Maritimo; (+34) 922 792 570) overlooking the beach and harbour. There’s a good choice of dishes to keep the adults happy and, more importantly, they’re child friendly.
With a menu as diverse as Tenerife’s scenery, The Olive Garden (El Carmel, 5 (+34) 922 791 115) delivers a truly international range of choices whether you’re vegetarian or not. Owners Sally and Rob initially tested the water with a few vegetarian additions to the menu and the response was such that they’ve extended the veggie menu to rival that of their meat and seafood dishes. The ‘wicked Italian veg-balls’ are…well, wicked.
Stylish San Telmo
The names of restaurants in the San Telmo area of Los Cristianos seem to change nearly as often as the menus there, but what you can be assured of is some stylish dining amongst the Los Cristianos’ trendy scene. Good food and arty décor guaranteed with prices not as high as you might expect for such attractive surroundings.
Ferries to Other Canary Islands
Really take advantage of the fact that you’re based at the crossroads to the Western Canary Islands and take an early ferry to spend a day exploring the capital of La Palma, La Gomera or El Hierro where life moves to a very different rhythm.
HISTORIC TOWNS AND VILLAGES, LITTLE KNOWN MIRADORS WITH ‘WOW’ VIEWS, QUAINT HAMLETS, TRANQUIL FORESTS & COMMUNITIES WHERE LIFE HAS HARDLY CHANGED IN CENTURIES.
IF YOU’RE HIRING A CAR MAKE SURE THAT YOU DON’T MISS OUT ON SEEING THE BEST PARTS OF TENERIFE
HERE AT REAL TENERIFE WE NEVER TIRE OF EXPLORING TENERIFE’S OLD ROADS.
IF YOU’VE GOT A COPY OF ISLAND DRIVES YOU’LL KNOW WHY.
THE SECRET IS RAPIDLY GETTING OUT.
TENERIFE IS AN INCREDIBLE ISLAND FOR EXPLORING ON FOOT
PINE AND LAUREL FORESTS, VOLCANIC LANDSCAPES, STUNNING COASTAL WALKS, QUAINT HAMLETS, LUSH SWEEPING VALLEYS AND A RUCKSACK FULL OF UNFORGETTABLE MEMORIES AWAITS ANYONE WHO TRAVELS INTO TENERIFE’S AMAZING COUNTRYSIDE
ISLAND WALKS – YOUR KEY TO JOINING AN EXCLUSIVE GROUP.