Surfers, Sunbathing, and Smooth Mojitos – The Canary Islands

Playa Cabezo, El Medano – Tenerife, Canary Islands

Our guest expert (tough job), living in the Canary Islands, is Linda Wainwright.  She lives in a beach town with surfers, sun bathers, and smooth mojitos. Her home, El Médano is on Tenerife, the largest island in the Canary Islands.  The central square in El Médano is the hot spot for festivals, especially during the summer.

By Linda Wainwright

El Médano is a contradiction. It’s laid back, yet energetic; young, yet with tradition; a sporty, little town which attracts travelers, rather than tourists – they prefer the concrete jungles.

The main beach is right by the town square, family-friendly, safe for paddling and swimming, and it segues into another; a long, sandy one, the domain of wind and kite surfers. Another is black rock, a reminder of the island’s volcanic origins. Yet another disappears at high tide, and when there’s a big swell, waves crash right up to the terraces of the old, waterfront bars. Despite the occasional soaking, it’s my favorite place to enjoy a mojito. Bar Timon (Telephone: 922 176601) offers mojitos for just €2.50.

This is very much a resort where people come to do rather than just sunbathe.  A seaside walk will find you dodging joggers and walkers, and skirting footballers and pilates practitioners, as well as those peacefully meditating on the shoreline. My favorite time of day is daybreak. I’m not a natural athlete, but with the sunrise and the people watching, running there seems effortless.  If I’m not wearing my running shoes, I’m in flip flops with camera in hand, because the photo ops are endless.

Everyone’s favorite meeting place is Flashpoint (Strandpromenade, El Medano, Tenerife, Spain) a very chilled beachside bar, perching on the boardwalk next to the windsurfers’ beach. Their brunches are famous locally. My favorite Sunday treat is the luxury version at €10 including a glass of cava.

The town square is lined with bars and cafés, but these are for the day trippers who come to gawk at the surfers and hippies. The town attracts those who like an alternative lifestyle too, and many of them can be found during an evening sprawled along the low seawall, selling handmade necklaces and bracelets made from leather or macramé interwoven with local shells. Others ply the bars or street corners, busking. It’s a great place for free entertainment.

Come evening the place to be is Manfred’s Soul Cafe near the small harbour. Inside, the walls have been decorated by a local artist, and at weekends there is often live music. On a winter evening, it’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down as you sip a cold beer.

It’s this quirky mix of surfer/hippie/traditional which sets El Médano apart from the rest of the island, makes a traveller feel at home, and has had me snared for the last three years.

Linda Wainwright likes to say that she is “re-inventing herself for her third age.”   She transplanted to the Canary Islands more than 20 years ago from England and her passion for the islands continues. Now with kids grown up, leaving behind the 9 to 5, she studies writing and photography and is beginning to scratch a living from them, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. She blogs at Island Momma http://islandmomma.wordpress.com/

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