The city of La Laguna. Photo by Jose Mesa.
In my blog announcements at the start of 2013, I declared The Shooting Star travel blog open for guest posts. This first one comes Jack, who lives in the Canary Islands of Spain, off the west coast of Africa. He showcases Tenerife, often called one of the last paradise isles in Europe, from the lens of a local.
Although the Canary Island of Tenerife is an immensely popular holiday hotspot, most of the information you’ll read about it in English covers only a small area of the island. Subsequently, a lot of Tenerife’s most fascinating corners remain hidden from the majority of visitors.
A useful by-product of the island being a top tourist destination is that getting to Tenerife is easy. All anyone has to do to uncover an island different from the one most sun seekers know, is to book a cheap flight from Monarch and, after landing at Tenerife Sur airport, head north to where the Canarios live and play, rather than south towards the main resorts.
Party like a local: Nightlife in Tenerife.
Most visitors claim Playa de las Américas is the nightlife capital of Tenerife. But only where tourists are concerned. Tenerife’s former capital, La Laguna, is a university city and where there are students, there’s a bouncing nocturnal scene. El Cuadrilátero is a triangle of streets where the liveliest bars and clubs are located. Not only is this the place for travellers who want to hear the best local beats, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Eat like a local: Food in Tenerife.
You can’t get more local than eating in a guachinche. Few visitors have heard of these makeshift restaurants found in garages and sheds in north Tenerife which, as long as they serve no more than three cheap traditional dishes and their own vino del país (country wine), don’t need a licence to operate. To find one, look for ‘guachinche’ signs nailed to trees and arrows pointing along anonymous tracks. Eating in one is a unique experience and you won’t find them anywhere else in Spain.
Relax like a local: Beaches in Tenerife.
If you like your playas (beaches) to have a wild, carefree personality rather than rows of neat sun loungers, the black sand beauties at in La Orotava shouldn’t disappoint. Access only through a single track road, or a forty minute trek through banana plantations, keeps the hordes away. There are three beaches hidden by cliffs, including one used for camping, surfing and sunbathing au natural. Even if you aren’t a beach bum, Bollullo’s ramshackle beach bar is in a stunning spot for sinking a cerveza (beer) and picking at tapas.
Hike like a local: Mountains in Tenerife.
Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide, is deservedly visited by nearly everyone; however, head into the Anaga Mountains for some mind-blowing scenery minus the crowds. There are ancient laurel forests here, tiny hamlets perched on plunging ravines, and even a troglodyte community at Chinamada with a cave restaurant. Book into the Montes de Anaga hostel deep in the mountains, and follow trails into the atmospheric forest to take a step back in time.
Discover like a local: Tenerife’s Pyramids.
And finally, a mystery. The Güímar Pyramids are the cause of heated debates across the Canary Islands. Opinion is divided as to whether they were built by Tenerife’s indigenous people, the Guanches, or are farmers’ rubble – which seems crazy, but it’s a view many Canarios hold. Visit them, listen to the evidence, and decide for yourself.
Guest post by Jack Montgomery.