By Linda Wainwright
Europeans have been wintering in the Canary Islands since the 19th century. With the evolution of package holidays in the 1960s tourism began to thrive, and these days, come October, they arrive in droves to sample January temperatures hovering between 21 and 16 Celsius. Word is spreading, and the island of Tenerife, nicknamed “The Land of Eternal Spring,” now attracts winter visitors from around the world.
What is there to do on a subtropical island when the days are shorter, and the weather less predictable? These are my top 10 favorites.
1. Go to the beach. Whilst tourists soak up the sun, few locals venture to the beaches in winter. This means that the smaller, less touristy beaches are almost deserted. Whilst they make lack facilities, the tranquility is delightful.
2. Go hiking. Winter is peak season for walkers with nigh perfect conditions on good days (which far outnumber the rainy ones). Come in late January /early February and follow “The Almond Routes.” Pink blossom against an azure sky is a stunning sight. Best place to see them is around Santiago del Teide.
3. Come for Carnival! The big week centers around Shrove Tuesday, so the date varies. Reputed to be second in size only to Rio de Janeiro, and maybe the best street party in the world. Transport runs all night from the southern resorts, so you can sleep it off on the beach, before setting out again the next evening.
4. Be a culture vulture. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, capital of the island, boasts a striking auditorium, designed by world famous architect, Santiago Calatrava. Often compared to the Sydney Opera House, it hosts an opera season in October/November, musicals, ballet and classical music concerts throughout the season. Or you can just admire its graceful lines, and enjoy Sunday brunch in the bistro. Sunday brunch also features on the agenda at the Museum of Man & Nature, a great place to browse on a cooler day.
5. Ride the biggest artificial wave in the world. Siam Park in Playa de las Americas boasts this very popular attraction. The park remains open all winter, except when an area is closed for essential maintenance.
6. Go back in time. The Teide National Park, often described as a lunar landscape, looks as if it belongs in pre-history. Twisted rocks, stark badlands, and Spain‘s highest mountain are even more dramatic seen with a covering of snow, which can happen anytime between November and March.
7. Connect to the ocean. Boats offering whale and dolphin trips operate year round from Los Gigantes, Puerto Colon, Los Cristianos and Las Galletas. Choose from catamarans, sailing boats or glass bottomed motor boats. Sightings are frequent, and you don’t run as much risk from heat and sunburn as in summer.
8. Make a date with history. The narrow, colorful streets of the island’s original capital, La Laguna, echo with ghosts of Tenerife’s past. Take a wander, climb the church tower, and lunch in a hidden courtyard.
10. Be active! Dive, run, cycle, para-glide, windsurf, surf, golf. These sports are available year round, but winter is definitely the better time for the sweatier ones. You will need a wet suit for water-sports, but that doesn’t seem to deter folk around here!
Tenerife’s subtropical climate makes being outdoors possible year round. The difference is that whilst 7pm in summer may see you grabbing the sun’s last warmth, 7pm in winter will likely see you enjoying a cocktail and admiring the stars. Winter days are shorter and evenings chillier, but there is no shortage of things to do given a glitch in the weather. When planning your trip look for special deals on hotels and transportation, especially in shoulder season. Love Holidays offers vacation packages to Tenerife and other islands in the Canary archipelago.
Linda Wainwright writes lives on Tenerife and writes at IslandMomma.net