Tenerife, Canary Islands
Tenerife is the most famous of all the Canary Islands. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 320 km off the coast of Africa and is situated in the heart of the archipelago. The closest neighbors are the islands of La Gomera and Gran Canaria. Tenerife covers an area of 2034 sq km and is the largest of all Canary Islands. In its longest part, from north to south the island extends approximately 84 km and has a maximum width exceeding 52 km. The length of the coast of Tenerife is around 342 km.
Climate. Tenerife enjoys a very pleasant tropical climate, which is often described as an eternal spring. However, the weather conditions are very different depending on whether you are in the North or in the South of the island.
Winter temperatures in the South are extremely pleasant – around 20 – 22°C and summers are warm but not very hot with temperatures not exceeding 28°C. The weather is suitable for swimming and sunbathing all year round, although there are some slightly cooler days.
While the south coast of Tenerife is constantly dry and warm, and the visitors are lying on the beach and walking in summer wear under the warm sun even in January, the weather in the North of Tenerife is much cooler.
In winter is usually around 16-17 degrees and it rains a lot. Summers are also cooler in comparison with the southern parts of the island and rarely more than 26°C.
Relief. Being of volcanic origin, Tenerife is mountainous. The slopes of the island are steep and cut by picturesque gorges and diversified by green plains. High volcanic mountains rise in the central parts of the island.
Mount Teide is the highest point not only in the Canary Islands but throughout Spain. It rises to 3718 m altitude and about 7500 m above the bottom of the Atlantic! The peak rises from the center of a huge 16 km long dormant volcanic caldera.
Nature. The nature of Tenerife is the most diverse of all the Canary Islands. Here you can find practically everything – from desert areas to evergreen rain forests and snowy peaks.
The contrast between the northern and southern parts of Tenerife is impressive. Since receiving the majority of precipitation falling on the island, the northern coast offers a wide variety of tropical plants.
Steep volcanic slopes are covered with dense forests, crossed by breathtaking tourist routes and charming forest trails, favorite of cyclists. Cities such as Puerto de La Cruz, located on the north coast are among the greenest in the Canary Islands.
Not accidentally here is the most magnificent botanical garden in the archipelago. Just to the contrary, the southern half of Tenerife is dry and semi-arid. Here grow mainly dry grass, cacti, shrubs, and only some dry-resistant trees.
Beaches. The coast of Tenerife is dotted with many large and small beaches. Most of them are covered with black sand and oval volcanic stones, but there are a few exceptions.
The Southwest of Tenerife around Playa de Fanabe, Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas has beautiful beaches with golden or pale beige sand. The most lovely and attractive beach on Tenerife you will find, however, a few kilometers north of the island’s capital Santa Cruz.
The beach has great golden color and is perfect for sunbathing and swimming. But this light color should not surprise you. This lovely beach called Las Teresitas is artificially created with sand brought from the Sahara desert.
Approximately 150 meters off the shore has built stony reef, which protects the beach from large ocean waves. The sand was planted with coconut trees and other kinds of palms.
Fauna. Tenerife is home to a rich variety of animal species. Although much of the island is occupied by semi-arid landscapes, there are not snakes. Small animals like rodents, birds, lizards and insects are predominant.
In rural areas you could see geckos, and one of the most popular birds on the island – the canary. The waters around Tenerife are rich in fish and nutrients. For this reason, close to the shore you could see dolphins which love to swim close to tourist boats. Sometimes near the island is possible to see whales.
Population. Because of the large increase in population since 1989, Tenerife has become the most populated Canary Island. With a population of almost 910,000 people, it is home to nearly half of the archipelago’s inhabitants, significantly outpacing the former leader Gran Canaria.
The huge influx of foreigners has turned Tenerife into one of most cosmopolitan destinations in Europe. In some of the small resort towns live so many English and German speaking settlers, so it is easier to hear British or German language than Spanish.
The reason for the large number of foreigners, living in Tenerife, are the perfect climate, excellent infrastructure, the great opportunities in doing business, high quality health and education, clean environment (air here is among the purest in the world) and many others.
Official language of the island is Spanish, but English and German are quite common. Official religion of Tenerife is Christianity, and the majority of local inhabitants are Roman Catholics.
Economy of Tenerife. Tenerife is Spanish island and is part of the European Union. The official currency is the euro. Tenerife has the most developed economy of all the Canary Islands.
The main source of income is its highly developed tourist industry and services sector as a whole. Even industries that seemingly have nothing to do with tourism are actually creating products and services that are consumed mainly by the numerous tourists, visiting the island each year.
Agriculture is also very important. Due to various climatic conditions and rich soil, here are grown huge variety of fruits and vegetables, typical for different parts of the world.
The island is huge producer of bananas. They are grown in large plantations in the northwestern slopes. The farmers of Tenerife also produce pineapples, mangoes, papaya, guava, olives, citrus, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, lettuce, tobacco and whatnot.
They love to say that it is very difficult to find a plant that can not thrive in Tenerife and it’s true. Livestock is also very well developed. Pigs, cows, poultry, sheep and many others are quite common.
The goat, however, remains the most popular farm animal in Tenerife. It is used not only for meat but also for the production of the well-known canary cheese. This is the most famous product of animal origin in the archipelago.
As Tenerife is surrounded by rich of life ocean waters, fishing is very important for the local economy. Fish and seafood are important part of the daily menu of the islanders.
When to visit Tenerife? Tenerife enjoys year-round dry, warm and sunny weather and therefore has become a year round tourist destination, but perhaps the most interesting period to visit the island is during the winter months.
Then you can enjoy plenty of sunshine, walking in short sleeves and laziness on the beach or poolside. The northern coast of Tenerife and the city of Puerto de la Cruz are the only places in Tenerife, which is better to visit during the summer. In this way you will avoid the heavy winter rains and cloudy weather.
What clothes should I wear? Summer clothing is needed throughout the year, but during the winter months you should also wear a light jacket just in case. Sometimes it gets chilly for a day or two and you should be prepared.
Swimsuit, sunscreen and sunglasses are needed all year round. It is good to watch out for the sun exposure while at the beach or just walk around. The cooling ocean breeze creates the illusion that the sun’s rays are not very strong so your skin can burn unnoticeable in less than 30 minutes!
If you are planning to travel in the North of Tenerife during the winter months, light jacket and long pants are required, although sometimes it is very warm.