As I´ve already mentioned in my previous post A Photographic Journey to The Canary Islands – this year Tenerife is definitely my biggest “travel surprise”. Not only did it overcome my expectations in terms of landscapes and activities, but it also turned out to be a great travel destination for our first far-away trip with a baby…
Great for parents – great for kids…
Back in August 2017, we welcomed a new family member and our travel preferences have slightly changed… I don´t need to tell you that traveling with a little baby is quite different. And yet it is way more of a reachable goal than many people think.
Therefore, I believe it´s important to show this world to the little ones, so that they experience other cultures, grow up into tolerant and open-minded human beings, learn to adjust and to respect plans and routines of the other family members. In my opinion, not only is traveling with a baby possible – it is a must. Yet, this year general security/good medical care has become important criteria for us.
Let´s say some of the exotic far-away lands from the top of my travel bucket list got replaced by others from all across Europe (only for a short while though… [LOL]).
Vacation Choice: The Canary Islands
Tenerife seemed like a perfect vacation choice for us – it is still Europe, while technically The Canary Islands are much closer to Africa. No need to explain that after our wonderful time on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, we were more than excited to cross Tenerife out of our family travel bucket list.
An island with great weather, interesting sites and lots of baby-friendly places: well, my expectations were fully met.
It is true that certain hikes were impossible to do with a baby and yet Tenerife had so much to offer… Despite traveling with a 1-year-old, we were still able to see quite a lot of its natural wonders (even our daughter seemed to enjoy new to her volcanic landscapes).
Most often travel destinations are divided into an “adventurous vacation” and a “family vacation”. And the best thing about the Canary Islands (in particularly, Tenerife) is that you can have both at the same time.
While searching for accommodation on Tenerife, you should keep in mind that almost all of its natural wonders are on the Northern part of the island, while the majority of the hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping malls are on the South. Many people I know, visited Tenerife and stayed in the Southern part all the time with a day trip to the famous Loro Parque in the North. In fact, my husband did the same trip with his parents years ago (it was all organized by a travel agency): he still liked it. Nevertheless, until visiting Tenerife this year, he had no idea of the island´s impressive nature!
Warning about parking (if you´re not traveling in the offseason, of course). In the Southern part of the island, everything was fine, while in the Northern – it was a slightly different experience. After 11 a.m most of the touristic places were such a nightmare to find a parking spot. Ok, I do understand that we were traveling in the peak season and that the North Tenerife is generally less touristic than the South, in other words, less adopted for a large number of visitors. But still: for an island which basically lives from tourism – they could have done a better job…
My advice to you: check the nearest parking locations before visiting and try to stop by the most touristic places earlier in the morning.
So what can´t you miss on Tenerife?
The most popular tourist attraction on Tenerife – Spain´s highest mountain Teide (over 3,700 m). The most common thing here is to take a cable car to (the nearly) summit, but check the weather conditions before visiting, it might be closed because of wind. We were lucky with the weather. However, children under two and pregnant women are not allowed due to the altitude changes, so we didn´t get a chance to take a cable car this time. By the way, the road to Teide Cable Car Station was really good: you don´t realize you´re actually heading towards the highest peak in Spain.
Located in the west of the island, a small resort of Los Gigantes is famous for the giant 800 m cliff formations. It´s a perfect place to rent a boat or do kayaking.
A beautiful forest, full of hiking trails of distinct difficulties and lengths. Keep in mind that some of them (for ex. Sendero El Bosque Encantado) might have limited access and you´d need to ask for permission online(in advance). However, the most visited trail Sendero de los Sentidos (nearby a parking lot and visitor´s center) does not require any previous permissions and it is suitable for kids (even partially adapted for disabled and baby strollers). Just check the weather and bring a jacket (the temperature surprisingly dips in this area) and comfortable shoes (better hiking boots).
4. Punta de Teno
An impressive volcanic area stretching out into the ocean with the views of Los Gigantes. On weekends or due to weather conditions the access to this area might be restricted: as an alternative, you could take a bus from Buenavista. Keep in mind that a road to Punta Teno (or at least a part of it) goes next to high walls up and down – not for drivers with fear of heights. However, it was wide enough for two cars (unlike the one to Masca) and with a good surface.
5. Icod de los Vinos / Drago Park
One of the most important natural, cultural and historic symbols of the Canary Islands – 800-year old Dragon Tree.
Tenerife is full of charming little villages that, along with its natural landscapes, are absolutely worth visiting. Orotava is one of them: especially when the locals celebrate Corpus Christi by decorating their streets and the main town square with carpets made from sand, flowers, and seeds. (Read more: The Most Colorful Villages is Spain)
7. Loro Parque
Loro Parque is one of the most visited places on Tenerife, so I feel like I must include it. Nevertheless, I liked it less than many other sites on the island. I honestly feel conflicted about the concept of the zoo and even though I had many wonderful experiences with animals at places like Jardin del Papagayo in Benicarlo/Spain (Read more…) most of those were closer to sanctuaries. It is true Loro Parque has impressive feedback all over the internet: they also work hard on their image, while stating everywhere how many humanitarian projects across the globe they currently support. But it is essentially a simple zoo.
8. El Caleton De Garachico
An incredibly beautiful and wide variety of different kinds of seawater pools. El Caleton De Garachico normally gets quite crowded and parking is almost impossible after 10.30 a.m.
9.Playa de las Teresitas
With its golden sands, imported from the nearby Sahara and blue waters, protected by an artificial reef, Las Teresitas beach is such a picturesque harbor below the Anaga mountains. My favorite beach on Tenerife: lovely mountain views, safe waters, great snorkeling, easy parking, many small food kiosks, and great seafood restaurants in the nearby San Andres. The only drawback – it is often quite windy, so the sand sprays at your whole body (same story with many other beaches on the island…)
One of the most famous hikes on Tenerife – the Masca hike. It begins in a village of Masca and goes all the way downwards to the rocky beach.
Keep in mind the road to Masca is quite a drive … montaneous and narrow. Plus it´s very touristic: quite stressful for even one vehicle to pass through – imagine two minibus drivers crossing each other. Masca is one of the most impressive places on Tenerife, but you really should visit earlier in the morning and better check the weather conditions the same day.
In fact, I initially planned to share in this post my daily route on Tenerife, instead of listing all the places we visited. However, due to the weather conditions (rain and fog), we had to reschedule our trip to Masca 2 days in a row (the exact route ended up no making any sense). Get ready to be flexible with your initial plans!
A small charming fishing village 18km south of Santa Cruz, famous for its Basilica and the statues of the Guanche chiefs (native people on the island before the Spanish conquest in the 15th century) along the sea wall.
12. The Guimar Pyramids
A mysterious complex of six pyramids which is still a source of debates in the press. The famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl believed those were left by Egyptians on their way to America, while the Spanish investigators Cesar Esteban and Antonio Aparicio claimed that the Guimar pyramids were nothing more than an agricultural construction… One way or another, The Guimar Pyramids is a curious place to visit. I also really liked their exposition dedicated to the pyramids of the world.
13. Playa del Socorro
Tenerife is full of impressive black sand beaches. Although most of them have complicated access, strong currents and often seem like a better match for surfers. Playa del Socorro, Playa de la Nea and Playa de Almaciga (near Playa Benijo) are three beaches we managed to visit by car. If traveling without kids, we´d probably include more to our route, even simply for hikes and views.
I should also admit that none of the beaches (except Las Teresitas perhaps) felt like a perfect place for a lazy day off… In other words, Tenerife wouldn´t be my first choice for a beach vacation. Nevertheless, it has a perfect combination of a comfortable climate, impressive nature and inviting local culture – what could possibly beat that?!