Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands situated off the North west coast of Africa and due to its constant good weather, excellent beaches (12 Blue Flag) and spectacular natural beauty it attracts over 3 million visitors every year.

It is confusing for first-time visitors to decide where to stay, so below is an overview of the major resorts in the South of the island.  The list starts in the west and heads east past Tenerife Sur (Reina Sofia) Airport (the main airport for the South).  This is followed by a short overview of the tourist areas in the north of the island.

Los Gigantes  - At the tip of the west coast this quiet town gets its name from the giant cliffs (Acantilados de los Gigantes) that border the town and are only accessible by boat. Geared towards tourism it consists mainly of hotels and apartments and offers a variety of English bars some with live entertainment and others more suited for that quiet relaxing drink.  A few restaurants offering excellent international cuisine and the usual favourites such as burgers or fish & chips.  It has a black sand beach that is small but safe for swimming and surfing and is rarely crowded.  There is a busy harbour where you can find a choice of water based excursions including boat trips up towards Masca, diving and scuba diving excursions and various water sports.  Los Gigantes is a beautiful area and favoured by the more mature couples due to its peaceful atmosphere. Due to the hilly nature of this resort, it may not be suitable for those with walking difficulties. To visit other parts of the island, a car is recommended.


View of the cliffs from the road above Los Gigantes


The small safe black sandy beach surrounded by cliffs

Puerto de Santiago - It is hard to tell the divide between Puerto de Santiago, Playa de la Arena and Los Gigantes, the three are so close together and it is easy to walk from one to the other.  Most Spanish residents in the area are based in Puerto de Santiago, giving it  more of a Canarian feel. There is a considerable amount of building going on, but resort facilities are good, with plenty of family bars, restaurants, a choice of shops and all inclusive hotels.  These resorts attract many older visitors looking for a quieter base.  As with Los Gigantes, this resort may not be suitable for those with walking difficulties.  Again, a car is recommended.

Playa De La Arena - Next to Los Gigantes is this compact resort. As it is relatively new and modern, some building and development work is in progress but it's fairly low key.   There are a number of hotels, a small selection of  restaurants and a few bars, although entertainment is mainly based in the hotels and traditional in flavour.  It has a small 250 metres beach of black sand, a spectacular coastline and some secluded bays. On the beach can be found sun beds for a small charge, showers and lifeguards.  The water can sometimes be quite rough with high waves.  Care needs to be taken because there are underwater currents, depending on the weather and the waves it can sometimes be dangerous.  If the sea is rough it is difficult to see the big rocks which are just below the surface and the beach can only be partly recommended for children as there is a steep drop in the water quite close to the edge. Be aware that black sand gets extremely hot especially in the afternoon, do not forget to take your flip flops. A range of shops can be found along the sea front.  Perfect for couples, families and older visitors looking for a quiet holiday. Due to the hilly nature of this resort, it may not be suitable for those with walking difficulties.  Again, a car is recommended.


Alcala – Still very much a fishing village with fantastic views of the sea and mountains but now boasting the luxurious 5 star Gran Melia Palacio de Isora

    
There is no beach in Alcala but the local still manage to sunbathe at the waters edge


View of the old town from the coastal path

 
View  from Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora    
                     

The town square

Playa San Juan  - Situated on the West coast in the vicinity of Los Gigantes, this small town has a growing tourist market but still retains its Spanish roots. The beaches are natural and the tides in this stretch of coast make for excellent swimming. Recommended for those who wish to be far from city life.(there is a really useful description of San Juan starting Page 2 of the attached Forum post http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopi...


The beach in Playa San Juan


The main street in Playa San Juan


The new walkway and boardwalk

Callao Salvaje
  - Situated just 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the main Las Americas area, Callao Salvaje is mainly residential although a few small hotels exist. Callao Salvaje enjoys a promenade and a small shopping centre that has a variety of bars, fresh fish restaurants and shops. A small man-made beach  is due to be extended in the future. Ideal for those who prefer a quieter holiday and low-key nightlife in a mainly residential area. It is worth considering car hire.

 
The 'beach' at Callao                          The shops and cafes                                 
 
The remainder of tourist shops & supermarket and a few bars and restaurants

A street in Callao Salvaje  Small Park    
A small park attached to Atlantic Hotel & a convenient area at the end of the road to turn the car around                                  

Playa Paraiso - Purpose built, manmade and relatively new.  Due to demand for property in the Bahia Del Duque area, builders are moving into Playa Paraiso and this area is currently undergoing massive construction. Currently there are a handful of bars and restaurants for relaxing evenings. There is also a popular lido formed by the natural and rocky coastline and there are plans to develop a man-made beach (ironically, there isn't a paradise beach here yet) and a commercial centre.  An ideal spot for those looking for a holiday on a budget. Basic resort amenities are all here, but if you're looking for a more all inclusive feel and have young children, Costa Adeje would be a better choice. Car hire is recommended. Unfortunately many tour operators advertise that accommodation here is in Costa Adeje (several miles away) so it is worth checking location carefully if you don't wish to be isolated.

 
Playa Paraiso with views of the Riu and Roco Nivaria


Despite the name there is no beach

Costa Adeje - The area considered to be Costa Adeje is everything west of Veronicas up through Puerto Colon, Torviscas, Fanabe, Playa del Duque and La Caleta.   Until fairly recently Costa Adeje was lumped in with Playa de las Americas, but after rebranding and considerable marketing it has emerged as a resort in it's own right and is one of the top family resort areas across the Canaries.    There are many leisure pursuits available, including superb golf, Aqualand, parks, shopping, spas, casinos and shows, top family beaches, diving and scuba diving, boat trips, whale watching and bars and restaurants. Costa Adeje has the pick of the beaches Troya I, Troya II and Playa Fanabe which are all Blue Flag award winning beaches with full lifeguard service provided in summer, plenty of sunbeds, showers, toilets and changing rooms.


Part of the Costa Adeje coast from the sea

Playa del Duque - This area is one of the newest in Costa Adeje and it is less crowded.   In the CC Plaza del Duque You will find 40 shops where you can find merchandise from the most exclusive designers both national and international as well as a large variety of restaurants. Generally speaking, you'll pay a little more if you stay here than in other areas.


A lovely day in Del Duque taken from the top of the hill

Puerto Colón - Calls itself a port but it is actually a large and very attractive marina complete with expensive yachts and elegant boats.  A set of breakwaters protect a selection of relatively small but well maintained purpose-built beaches where you can sunbathe or swim  If you are feeling a little more energetic, take advantage of the wealth of sporting activities such as volley ball, jet skiing, parascending, banana boats, hang gliding, diving, snorkelling, surfing and wind surfing. This is also the major marina where the majority of boat trips leave for whale and dolphin watching or fishing. With some of the islands' best facilities and a wide choice of relaxing bars and restaurants to choose from Puerto Colón is an excellent choice for families. 


The Harbour at Puerto Colon
 
Fañabé - A beautiful and exclusive area, which has been developed largely over the last 5 or 6 years, Fañabé offers stretches of wonderful Blue Flag man-made beaches and up-market commercial shopping centres with every designer shop imaginable. It is also home to the famous hotel "Bahia del Duque". Las Americas is only a few minutes walk along the promenade and offers every type of restaurant imaginable. The whole area is very cosmopolitan and is perfect for clients seeking the luxury of a tranquil area yet at the same time the proximity of a wide range of activities and services.



Torviscus - boasts a wide range of bars and restaurants within easy walking distance together with ample shops. The main thoroughfare is pedestrianised.  There are two blue flag beaches, the popular Torviscas Playa stretching right round to Fañabe and the smaller more sheltered cove at Puerto Colon.


Golden sandy beaches

San Eugenio (Alto and Bajo) - This area is part of Las Americas and runs from the coastline up into the hills of Las Americas and just south of Torviscas You're ideally placed here for excellent beaches, and just a short walk from Puerto Colon harbour.  San Eugenio is a self contained resort with everything you'll need for a beach holiday. Ideal for families.

Las Americas - To most people the very mention Playa de las Americas conjures up images of all night bars and the very worst excesses of a "yob culture" certainly not the place that would attract families or middle aged couples, which for Tenerife, is increasingly becoming the target market.  These days the only difference between Costa Adeje and Playa de las Americas is several hundred pounds a week which reflects that Costa Adeje has a far higher proportion of 5 star hotels than Playa de las Americas .

On choosing PdlA you will very quickly discover that a wide traffic-free promenade runs along the full length of the resort. This actually begins at Los Cristianos in the east and continues for several miles right through Playa de las Americas and on to La Caleta in the west. One particular part of the promenade worth a mention, is the stretch running from the Hotel Bouganville to the marina at Puerto Colon, and is known locally as the "Geranium Walk".   Another area that is very sophisticated and should not be missed is around the Mare Nostrum complex which is filled with international restaurants, stylish cocktail bars.  For those who want culture there is the Piramides de Arona and the brand new Magma Centre which are the venues of top international entertainers. There are a large number of designer shopping complexes selling designer goods, perfume and jewellery , as well as many stores selling electronic goods.

Not to be totally forgotten  is the island’s party capital suitable for the 18-30 age group, a very small area known as Veronicas Strip.  I would guess that every young person visiting Tenerife hasheard of Veronicas Strip and intends to spend a bit of time there. Veronicas isa 200 metre stretch with Nightclubs and Pubs along the strip. Most will haveheard of Bobbys and Busbys and may have seen them on television. After 9pm familiesshould really stay away unless they want to see and hear things that may offendthem. If you look at Veronicas in daylight you will see that it is really avery ordinary street with nothing special to show you what it really is, infact it looks rather dingy. It is only when night time comes that it comesalive and really it is the youngsters that give the place atmosphere. The Barsstay open until around 5am and its the all night drinking, dancing and justhaving a very wild time that Veronicas Strip is all about. Single men and girlsjust doing what single people do - having a good time !

Few would ever deny that Playa de las Americas is anything other than a modern purpose-built tourist resort that boasts several sandy beaches, assorted water sports, countless shops and numerous restaurants. . But in all honesty, it doesn't ever pretend to be anything else.  This lively, cosmopolitan resort with fantastic facilities and vibrant nightlife is for those looking for the ultimate sun, sea and sand destination.  Something for everybody including the most demanding of visitors.



The Piramides de Arona - central Playa de las Americas


Enjoy wide walkways throughout Playa de las Americas


Las Americas by night

Los Cristianos - Is the second largest holiday resort in the south of Tenerife. The centre is completely pedestrian friendly. It is difficult to determine where Los Cristianos ends and Las Americas begins, but it is just a 5 minute walk along the seafront area known as San Telmo. There are two main beaches, the most popular one, Playa de las Vistas, was completed in 1997 with sand taken from the Sahara.  It also has numerous restaurants, bars, a good selection of shops and many pretty pavement cafés.  Regular ferries leave the port for the surrounding islands and boat trips to see the whales and dolphins also leave from here.   Held every Sunday, Los Cristianos is home to the biggest street market in Tenerife. Recommended for families and couples seeking an authentic Spanish atmosphere within a well-established resort.  The resort tends to attract a slightly older holidaymaker in comparison to Playa de las Américas.


 Part of the new Boardwalk in Los Cristianos


Los Cristianos from the sea

Palm Mar -  is a tourist village between Las Galletas and Los Cristianos. There is a lot of development going on here but if you want to get away from the crowds its ideal. There is a long, narrow pebble beach that looks out to Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas and a pretty walkway with plenty of seating to enjoy the sun or watch the ‘locals’ enjoy a day at the beach. The buildings are beautiful, but there are very few facilities.  A car is essential.

    
Pretty walkway runs along the narrow pebble beach

Costa Del Silencio - One of the oldest established resorts,  there is a small pebble beach and the sea conditions are good for swimming.  A variety of bars and restaurants are dotted around and many have top class entertainers.  The area has plenty of privately owned rental apartments and is suitable for those wanting to stay close to their accommodation.  A car is recommended.

Las Galletas - has retained much of its fishing village heritage. Stretching back from the sea front, fishermen’s cottages sit next to restaurants, bars and shops.  Las Galletas beach skirts the bay of the resort; it’s a perfect beginning to the laid back pace of life here. Walk along the palm lined pavement to the harbour and the small daily fish market.  There’s an excellent reason why dive centres bring their clients to Las Galletas; it’s reputed to have the most diverse and spectacular dive sites. Rusted wrecks, deep caverns, eerie volcanic undersea formations. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert; the numerous diving centres in town have packages to suit everyone 

 
Pretty tree lined streets  and while it may not be the best beach on the island it is well used by the locals - few visitors know this spot

  
The boats catch the fish and then drop it straight off at the daily market

Amarilla Golf -  One of the first golf courses to become established in the south of the island. Due to its convenient position and its pleasant greens, it has grown over the past few years adding new developments to the area. Mostly British residents and their families favour the resort although there are a number of properties regularly rented out to holiday makers preferring the relaxed atmosphere, golf facilities and natural coast lines. This area can be subject to windy days.  Shopping facilities are 5 minutes away by car. (Car hire is recommended).  Perfect for the keen golfer.


Lots of new developments springing up along the coast


Lovely walks along the rugged coastal path


The new marina is a busy place both for those who enjoy boats and the keen fisherman


Amarilla Golf is the home for the Yellow Submarine excursions

Golf Del Sur - Largely inhabited by British people this area, surrounded by superbly maintained landscaped gardens throughout, offers a variety of villas and apartments. It has been developed along the coastline, close to natural beaches making it idyllic for those who enjoy walks, playing golf or participating in water sports. An excellent area for those who are looking for a relaxing break, providing you have no objections to occasional high winds and low flying aircraft! At it's nearest point, Golf del Sur is a mere 4km from the southern runway of the Reina Sofia International Airport, and although this means a very short transfer into the resort, it also means that guests staying here will undoubtedly experience a considerable degree of aircraft noise. Reina Sofia is open 24 hours a day and throughout the night a large number of heavy cargo planes use the facility in addition to the numerous charter flights landing and taking off. In all fairness to the authorities who run the airport, in order to minimise the disturbance, aircraft do tend to approach the airport from over the sea, and as a consequence landings are somewhat quieter than takeoffs.  Major shopping facilities are just five minutes away by car and 15 minutes by car from the nightlife centres of Los Cristianos and Las Americas,


Not much beach but a beautiful coastal walk.


As well as the view of Teide there are always the planes to see.


The new San Blas Hotel between Golf del Sur and Los Abrigos


San Blas Hotel look carefully you can see the sun beds on the 'beach'

Los Abrigos - Development has crept up on this coastal fishing village to accommodate those who enjoy a quiet and tranquil atmosphere with a sea breeze. The harbour, a pedestrian zone, provides a pleasant stroll and is famous in the South for its many fish restaurants. There is an evening market every Tuesday. Ideal for those who enjoy peace or simply the ambiance of a typical Canarian fishing village.

 
Lots of fish restaurants around the harbour


Even a tiny town loves it's sculptures


Wander through the shady narrow streets

El Médano - This Bohemian resort - if you could call it a resort - feels more like a bustling Spanish village. Ii is just to the north of Tenerife Sur Airport and is a bit of a well kept secret outside of surfing and windsurfing circles.  It has been host to international windsurfing contests over the years. With its fine golden sand, a buzzing Saturday morning market, a promenade, numerous friendly bars and restaurants, and lots of live music it possesses a quiet beauty.  Visitors’ facilities also include snorkelling, boats to let, plus courses in sailing, surfing and paragliding and increasingly kite surfing. A must for the keen sports fan, but beware - the winds are regular to strong in this area, something not suited to everybody's ideal holiday. 


The windy El Medano beach is ideal for parascending


View of the old town

Bajamar/ Punta de Hidalgo -  both located on the northernmost point of Tenerife at the foot of the magnificent Anaga Mountains, the resorts are a bit of a throwback to 1950s type seaside resorts.  Both locations were developed in the1930s and 1960s as summer vacation spots for residents of La Laguna and neither is particularly picturesque or charming with many concrete, high rise buildings which are in need of replacing or at very least, a facelift. The best profile of both towns is their coastline which has some lovely natural rock pools and views all along the north coast with Mount Teide looming on the horizon.

In Punta de Hidalgo, a tiny black pebble beach lies beside the main, large pool and a long esplanade provides a joggers’ and strollers highway.

In Bajamar a large infinity rock pool is surrounded by wooden decking areas and there’s a small, golden sand artificial beach.
This part of Tenerife is sheltered from the Trade Winds and as a result  Bajamar and Punta de Hidalgo are mild in winter and humid in summer. Most visitors to the resorts tend to be Germans during the winter months and Spanish during the summer.

Bajamar's sea pools
Bajamar's sea pools

Puerto de la Cruz - is the main tourist resort of the north of the island, and before the motorway and new airport in the south, was the largest holiday resort on Tenerife. Its history dates back as a small fishing village and port to the larger town of La Orotava. Many of the town’s squares, churches and old houses date back to that time. Tourism started in the 1960s with visitors coming from the cruise ships docking in Santa Cruz. As package holidays became available in the 1970s, Puerto de la Cruz became a popular holiday resort.  Puerto is known as Tenerife’s sophisticated resort; filled with lush, tropical vegetation and resolutely Canarian in character, it’s suited to those looking for Tenerife culture.

Compared to the purpose-built resorts, Puerto presents a very different picture. Outside of the hotels, bars and restaurants, English is not widely spoken and very little of the nightlife is based around live entertainment, karaoke or ‘tribute’ acts. The Canarios prefer to relax over a bottle of wine in one of the many bars that fill Puerto’s plazas and old cobbled streets.

Ranilla restaurant district
The Ranilla restaurant district

Although the months of October to March see many retired British and Germans over-wintering in Puerto (as indeed they do in other resorts), the town’s resident population is certainly not in the same ‘mature’ bracket and Puerto remains lively throughout the year. The summer months are particularly busy with Spanish mainlanders, many of them under 30, and this is when the town’s nightlife is at its most lively. Today there are many 4 star hotels situated along the traffic-free promenade and there are a large number of shops and boutiques to suit all pockets. Puerto has a vast wealth of excellent restaurants, to cater for all tastes and budgets.

the stunning Lago Martianez
The stunning Lago Martianez

The town’s main beach of Playa Jardín (the garden beach) is a beautiful black sand beach at the western edge of town, backed by extensive landscaped gardens with views to Mount Teide.  Along the promenade is the magnificent swimming pool complex of Lago Martiánez which has six pools, including a wonderful kiddies area with a giant octopus and little waterfalls and a vast lake beneath which the town’s Casino is located. Any holiday should not be complete without a visit to the world famous Loro Parque, which no one of any age should miss. A free road-train takes visitors from the centre of town. For those who love carnival, the town comes alive in February with many visitors and locals alike enjoying a week of good spirit and friendship.

Plaza Iglesia
Plaza Iglesia; one of Puerto's charming squares

The average temperature in winter rarely drops below 20° C (70° F) in the day; hardly ‘cold’ by UK standards. The sunshine hours are slightly less than the south of the island and the months of July or August can be humid and cloudy.
However, it does rain more here than in the south which is why it’s so green and fertile.  February and November tend to be the rainy months.

La Orotava is probably one of the prettiest towns in Tenerife . Full of historical buildings, wooden balconies, flower filled plazas and narrow streets.  Here the locals live and shop in main shopping streets and hidden squares. To the south of the town is the new indoor shopping centre 'La Villa'.  Here there are many well-known high-street stores, eating houses, and a multi-screen cinema. The town is noted for the Corpus Christi celebrations when the locals fill the streets with art, by covering them in stunning carpets of made from flowers and volcanic sand.  On one side of La Orotava Valley are the mountains and on the coast there are at least three beaches El Bollullo, Martín Alonso and Ancon.

La Orotava
La Orotava; Tenerife's classiest town

Los Realejos,
Mainly agricultural, it is surrounded by banana plantations - although it is now a tourist extension of Puerto de la Cruz.  The town is  meant to be the most festive in Spain, with more than 80 celebrations and fiestas a year. The best known, the Fiesta de La Cruz in May, dates back nearly 300 years. The fireworks display is considered to be one of the biggest anywhere in the Canary Islands, due to the rivalry that exists between two big fireworks manufacturers.

Garachico to the west of PdlC. The town is extremely picturesque and famous for  a 1706  lava flow that partially blocked the harbour and ruined the port. The lava created the famous rock pools that are now a big tourist attraction. Stroll into the town making sure to look out for the beautiful Canarian wooden balconies that many buildings have. Visit the church of Inglesia Santa Ana and the Convento de San Francisco.  Here for €0.60 you can visit the small museum to see the exhibition that describes how the lava stopped just at the edge of the town.  It is also worth a visit just to admire the beautiful floors around the central courtyard.  Enjoy a drink at the bandstand in the Plaza de la Libertad, a lovely spot where you can sit in the shade of the trees to get out of the afternoon sunshine. In the Plaza de Abajo is the famous 'Puerta de Tierra' (Land Gate) the only remains of Garachico Port. The park also contains the old wine press.  Finally, enjoy the view from the ramparts and the fossil collection of Castillo de San Miguel on the seafront.  This is a small fort, built in the 16th century to guard the harbour from piratesThere are several small select hotels in the town. 


The pretty town of Garachico


Walking amongst the lava pools.