If you’d rather swap the slim chance of a white Christmas for a more or less guaranteed golden one, then head to Tenerife. Kirsty Liddle packed her bags…
Just a short four hour flight from London the volcanic Spanish island of Tenerife is an excellent choice, be it with a group of friends, a romantic mini-break for two or a family vacation as it has something to suit everyone. The island is particularly known for its lovely sunny weather all year round, thanks to the subtropical climate and warm trade winds blowing in from the Sahara desert. It is a haven for sun worshippers looking to relax and enjoy the warm sand and calming blue sea whilst topping up their tan.
Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the seven landmasses including Lanzarote and Gran Canaria that collectively make up the Canary Islands. Tenerife itself has long enjoyed a rich history thanks in part to its geographical location being a prime stop on the trade route for sea traffic. However, this did make it a popular target for pirates looking to steal valuable gold. Today, the island is more known for playing host to millions of happy tourists rather than protecting its wealth from opportunistic rogues.
Typically the weather in Tenerife in December is lovely, with the average day time temperature for December being 16ºC, dropping only a couple of degrees at night to 16ºC and at this time of year there are normally five gorgeous sunshine filled hours per day.
There are many hotels and resorts dotted all over the island including Playa de Fanabe which is a real family favourite with plenty of shops, restaurants and boutiques on the main strip and, best of all, it is situated just 700 metres away from the beach. However, if your idea of a good time involves fun, frolics and partying till four a.m. head to Playa de las Americas as the nightlife here and at Los Christianos really is second to none. Of course, if you prefer more of a low key atmosphere there are also numerous personal villas and apartments to rent elsewhere, depending on your personal budget and taste.
Whether you are a beach babe, water-sports enthusiast or nature lover this is the place for you. Tenerife is jam-packed with exciting experiences and among the highlights is Loro Parque, situated in Puerto de la Cruz, the zoo with a difference! It is home to hundreds of exotic birds and set in beautiful grounds with plenty of places to eat, relax and enjoy the sunshine. Why not head to the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife to pick up some souvenirs, enjoy the traditional cuisine and get chatting to the friendly locals? In 2012 The Guardian actually voted it to be one of five best places to live in the entire world so it can’t be too bad.
A visit is certainly not complete without seeing the lunar landscape of Volcan El Teide, part of the surreal Teide National Park, and the stunning views that it offers. You can either drive, climb it yourself or enjoy a leisurely journey to the summit by cable car. If you want something a little special why not try a romantic Teide By Night excursion? Ocean activities are also plentiful including boat tours and whale watching trips, diving, snorkelling and many more. Some activities get booked up fairly quickly so make a list of those that you simply must do well in advance.
There are also several Churches on the island worth visiting including the Church of the Immaculate Conception dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This is a building with huge historical significance as the foundation was built on the site of the first Chapel consecrated by the Conquistadors and where, in time, the capital would be built.
The Island also offers plenty of parks, gardens and hiking trails including the excellent Masca Walk within the Masca valley. The views here are absolutely superb, the route will take roughly 4 to 5 hours, but the trail eventually leads right down to the beach. If you attempt this do make sure that you have sensible walking boots, plenty of water and are reasonably fit! However, if you feel more at home relaxing on a beach with a book rather than energetically traversing a ravine then don’t worry. Just north of the village of San Andres, near Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the beautiful beach of Playa de las Teresitas, one of the most popular beaches in the entire Canary Islands, constructed of beautiful golden sand brought from the Sahara Desert in 1973. Las Vistas, a popular beach at Los Christianos, is also an excellent option and is considered to be one of the best beaches on the southern tip of the Island.
Tenerife really is a sun-seekers paradise but there is also so much more just waiting to be discovered!