Mandy Caplan on the joys of a misunderstood island in the Canaries.

 

At the age of 18, I couldn’t think of anything worse than ‘being confined’ to spending a few days away with my family -and only my family. A girls’ holiday on the delightful Greek island of Zayknthos (also known as ‘ZANTEEE’ to most late teens) was more my scene.

How I’ve changed.

I’m fortunate that my parents still offer to take me on family holidays. Or, as I was told, my parents are the lucky ones that their daughters still want to go on holiday with them; that we actually want to spend time with them.

So what’s the point of all this ‘we are family’ talk? The joys of being spoilt in the winter sun, that’s what. And my recent family jaunt was to Tenerife…

Tenerife. An island that, for many, provides the same ‘Club 18-30’ environment as the aforementioned Zante. But this Isla Canaria has way more to offer.

Two weeks in Tenerife is actually quite a long time. Perhaps four days too long for a sun-worshipper like me if, as it often happens, Tenerife’s weather likes to tease you. The morning sun will promise a day of sunbathing yet by noon it is overcast and, oh-my-gosh-how-dare-it, the temperature has fallen to less than 20°.

So, in order to fill your time on those non-beach appropriate days, renting a car is a must.  For most undergraduate students, we just fall short of the required 25 years of age that allows you to drive abroad in Europe. A definite plus of a family holiday: you can leave the parents to deal with the driving and the subsequent stress of getting lost in a foreign country, while you just relax/sleep in the back seat. It’s not a big island, so driving around is simple and quick, allowing you to take full advantage of the plethora of activities Tenerife has to offer:

Golf:

This island has plenty of golf courses to choose from, with Golf del Sur one of the best. With mild weather all-year round, you can have a pleasant round of golf, whatever the season.

Marina at Golf del sur

Marina at Golf del sur

Hiking:

The Teide National Park hosts many a guided walk or more rigorous hill walking expedition. An easier option is the Montaña Blanca, whilst the Guajara mountain offers a more difficult route.

Climbing a Volcano:

A special treat for hikers is Mount Teide, a stagnant volcano, rising to 3,718m – the highest point in Spain and indeed of all of the Atlantic islands. The odd, and exciting, element to this trek is that you walk upon warm, volcanic rock, reach down and feel the heat – I remember being so enthralled by this as a young girl that I took a few volcanic rocks home with me, to see how long they would retain their heat. Somehow I doubt young children would be allowed to carry out this same experiment now with all the weight restrictions imposed on these delightful budget airlines.

Kite/Windsurfing:

If you love either Kite-surfing or Windsurfing, El Médano is the place to be. A meeting point for water-sport lovers, travellers, and locals alike, this wonderful beach town comprises an eclectic mixture of people. A perfect spot to sit in a café and watch the world go by.

Kite-surfers and wind surfer's paradise

Kite-surfers and wind surfer’s paradise

 

El Me?dano

El Medano Beach

El Medano Beach

Secluded beaches:

With a car, you can easily zip around the coast line, visiting several of the little beach towns. A couple of recommendations: Playa San Juan (near the town of Los Gigantes) and Palm-Mar (just round the coastline from the resort of Los Cristianos).

Rock formations at Costa Adeje

Rock formations at Costa Adeje

A rather useful fact to know: Tenerife is V.A.T free. This means alcohol is ridiculously cheap, as are cigarettes, if that is what you’re into. A restaurant-worthy bottle of wine is on offer in the supermarkets for less than three euros. No exaggeration. I spotted a bottle that features on the wine list at the restaurant where I work, and it was €2.50. That’s what I call outstanding value.

So, needless to say, Tenerife is a great place to visit with friends for a beach holiday. It’s a great place to visit with the family, packing your holiday full of drives discovering new places, or going on a family-bonding hike. It’s a great place for a golf trip, with guaranteed all-year round pleasant weather.

A bit of a misunderstood creature, maybe, it’s really just a great place, whenever you choose to go.

 

 

Mandy Caplan

 

Images: Mandy Caplan