Spanish Trilogy: Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The summer of 2008 was the last one before I moved to Boston to attend EF International language school, where I was enrolled in the Pre-Master’s program. My friends and I decided to spend some quality time together and chose Canary Islands as our vacation spot.
Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, is a Spanish archipelago consisting of seven major islands, including Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, and scattered in the Atlantic Ocean, 60 miles west of Morocco. The biggest island—Tenerife—is also a formal capital of las Islas Canarias and home to the world’s largest volcano—Mount Teide.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife features beautiful beaches with volcanic black sand in the south and mountains covered with pine forests in the north. The majority of younger tourists prefer to stay at Playa de las Américas or Playa de los Cristianos on the south coast of Tenerife, as these resorts offer more night entertainment, while the north coast is more popular among wealthier senior public.
My friends and I stayed at this gorgeous hotel called Jardines de Nivaria, located in the center of the Playa de los Cristianos. It offered the best buffet I’ve ever had, featuring many traditional Spanish dishes, as well as a variety of local Canarian delicacies, including two popular sauces—mojo rojo and mojo verde, which perfectly complement practically every dish. Within a 10-minute walk from our hotel there was another fine piece of architecture—Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque Resort built according to the luxurious European traditions of the 19th century. It is located on the Costa Adeje that features a beautiful promenade and numerous seafront restaurants, with my favorite terrace of La Torre Del Mirador.
As I’ve already mentioned, because of the volcanic origin of the archipelago, the sand on Tenerife is sparkling black and surprisingly soft. Speaking of volcanoes, one of the biggest tourist attractions not only in the Canaries but also in Spain is the Teide National Park, which is absolutely amazing and unique. Its natural landscape is very close to that of the Moon; therefore, while exploring it, you have a bizarre feeling of being transferred to another place in the universe. Here, in the middle of the sleeping crater, George Lucas filmed one of the episodes of his Star Wars epic in 2005.
While staying in Tenerife, I would recommend renting a car and exploring the picturesque mountain road surrounding the island. Make sure to stop at Masca, a small artisan village situated inside the mountain gorge. Once you’ve reached the destination, you might lose your ability to talk for a moment because of the breathtaking view of the ocean and the rest of the island.
In Tenerife, I also had my first Atlantic scuba experience. The first thing I noticed was how much cooler the water was compared to the Red Sea and the Indian Oceans. Also, the Atlantic sea world is not that rich and impressive; however, I gained an unforgettable experience of exploring the insides of the World War II wrecks. My diving buddies and I had to use flashlights to be able to see in the dark, and the weirdest moment for us was to get adjusted to the incline of some of the wrecks in order not to be disoriented by the altered proportions. While some of us were exploring the wrecks, the other team went on a big-game fishing tour and was able to catch some remarkable tunas.
The day I appreciated the most was when we hired a small yacht to go whale watching; the experience was unforgettable. We observed a family of sleeping killer whales drifting in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, sighing occasionally to let us know they were aware of our presence. I think you’ve already noticed from my previous posts how happy I feel while experiencing these kinds of moments in uniting with nature.
We also checked out the Tenerife Zoo, which awed us with professionally staged animal shows (the dolphins and seals were especially amusing) and the amazing butterfly garden. We even got to visit an ostrich farm and a local university.
This post is concluding my Spanish trilogy. I hope you enjoyed my vivid experiences on the Spanish land, and I also hope I encouraged you to explore it yourself one day. I’ll keep you posted on some new delicious recipes and more international adventures. And for now, ¡Hasta la vista!