We had never really considered the Canary Island as a travel destination. With the risk of sounding smug, we thought that it was a place for charter tourists, staying on the same beach and drinking alcoholic drinks for a week. We are more than happy to confess that we were wrong. Especially Tenerife was so much more than the usual image of a charter destination. In fact, the place where we were staying – El Médano – left us with some very fond memories.
Planning Our Trip to Tenerife
How much do you plan before going somewhere? Maybe not so much if it is a charter trip, but we were planning even less. Having booked the flight tickets early on, we waited until a couple of weeks before departure for booking the accommodation. We chose the location, El Médano, almost at random. We knew nothing about it. Our only thought was that it was close to the airport, which was an important factor as our flights arrived late in the evening and departed early morning.
Arriving in El Médano
Upon arriving at Tenerife South Airport we were picked up by the owner of the apartment and it then didn’t take us many minutes before we were in the apartment on the edge of El Médano.
The flight had gone really well as Little A was looking forward to new adventures. From Stockholm, it is a 6-hour flight to Tenerife. Even though she was restless from time to time on the flight, she was very calm compared to all the other kids.
As the plane started its descent, we caught a wonderful glimpse of the sun setting over Teide. Darkness had fallen when we reached the ground, and it was first the next morning that we woke up with a view of the Montaña Roja.
Our Week on Tenerife
We had a week to explore the island and it didn’t take us long before we got going. One week was enough to see both the eastern and western part of the island. Wherever we went we saw the impressive peak of Teide – the highest peak in Spain. At times it did remind us of our mortality. After all, it is an active volcano still.
Exploring El Médano
As soon as the sun rose on the first morning in El Médano we were out setting our bearings. El Médano is a small town with long beaches and then, of course, the Montaña Roja on its doorstep. The town is very famous among windsurfers. We were soon looking around for options for our week, the first stop being the tourist information. Eventually, it was the second stop where we got in contact with a British guy – Peter – and his tour agency. He helped us plan the coming days and I was about to add Spain to the countries in which I have been driving.
In the end, I couldn’t stay away from hiking to the top of Montaña Roja. Susann and Little A had the chance to relax a few hours while I was away.
Eco Walking Tour from Los Abrigos
Peter had a Swedish intern at the time of our visit. As a project for school, she was arranging an eco walking tour from Los Abrigos to El Médano. The three of us decided to join and we met up with the group on our second morning on Tenerife. We will tell you more about this tour in a later post, but it will have a strong connection with my home town of Vagnhärad. Sometimes the world is rather small!
After a few hours walk along the beaches, it was nice to just relax back in El Médano. Well, we also picked up our rental car.
A Drive to Parque Rural de Anaga
The first of three days driving on Tenerife took us towards the eastern tip of the island. The serpentine roads took us across the ridge from Santa Cruz and we enjoyed the area around Taganana for lunch. The drive across Anaga offered some great views and that it probably the charm with driving on Tenerife. The nature of this part of Tenerife was fairly similar to spectacular Madeira.
Teide and Loro Parque
Teide is Spain’s highest point with its 3,718 meters. The volcano was on my must-see-list while on Tenerife and we all eventually drove up to the base camp in the morning. I had a reservation on the cable car and Susann was prepared to stay behind with Little A. She’s happy as long as she gets a cortado. I was not allowed to reach the summit, but the view was well worth the trip.
From Teide, we continued down on the other side to Puerto de la Cruz. We wanted to let Little A have some fun, so while Susann stayed outside with a book Little A and I went to Loro Parque – one of the zoos on the island. She was more than happy to see all the animals and went ecstatic when she saw the orcas – or baby sharks as she called them. It is hard to decide the day’s highlight, the view from Teide or the happy smile of my daughter. Well, probably the latter.
A Drive to Masca
The whole island a big mountain with amazing sighs and serpentine roads. Our third and last day of driving we took visited the last corner – the Teno peninsula. This drive was a lot more challenging than the previous and we ended up on much steeper and narrower roads. Driving on Tenerife can really be an adventure by itself and the views around Masca was amazing. Towns such as Buenavista del Norte also offered some shade from the intense sunshine.
Ending the Week in El Médano
We were for a long time considering going somewhere also during our last day on Tenerife. Instead, we eventually decided to relax in El Médano and enjoy the small town for the last time. It was also during this last day that Susann – the only one of us – decided to go swimming. No need to say that we usually don’t spend much time on the beach.
Heading Home and Our Thoughts About Tenerife
Eventually, the morning comes when you need to pack to head back home. We were lucky that the owner of the apartment dropped us off at the airport and we could take our time to check in and get through security. Then it was only the six-hour flight back home.
Our thoughts about Tenerife and the Canary Islands did really change during our visit. The thought that the islands would be filled with tourists and large hotels. Here are our conclusions:
- The sand really is blackish
- The roads are not as extreme as on Madeira
- Teide really is impressive
- There are actually forests on the island
- The large tourist hotels are located in only a handful of towns
- Sometimes it’s a good idea to drop the pretenses and try things that could be considered too normal
What You Should Not to Miss in El Médano
El Médano is located right outside the tourist areas of Los Cristianos and it is indeed quite a sleepy small town. It is casual, a bit bohemian. There was no crazy nightlife and most people actually spoke Spanish. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to see. It is easy to spend a few days in town and still enjoy yourself.
Here are three suggestions if you want to visit El Médano:
- Climb the 171 meters to the top of Montaña Roja.
- Walk along the beaches that stretch kilometers in each direction.
- Enjoy a drink along the beach promenade.
El Médanos location makes it a great base for visiting Tenerife. It is calmer than the bigger tourist areas, but you still have all the conveniences. The airport is close by, which means easy access upon arrival and I have problems believing that the many beaches around the town all should get crowded at once.
If you visit, we sure hope that you will enjoy it as much as we did and say hi to Peter if you find the guy.