what to do in tenerife

Tenerife, Spain has something to offer every type of traveler. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Is Tenerife Spain’s Most Underrated Island Getaway? 5 Reasons Why Locals Love It

A celebrated hot spot due in large part to its striking resorts and silky sand beaches, Tenerife offers discerning travelers much more than meets the eye. Venture farther afield into the heart of the island and discover a world of diverse landscapes and, surprisingly for an island welcoming more than 10 million visitors a year, plenty of remote, under-discovered areas.

Make the most of your visit by discovering the island’s many attributes. These are just five reasons why it’s a hit with locals in summer — and, really, any time of year.

More Than 60 Black or Gold Sand Beaches

Tenerife playas run the gamut from the imported silky platinum sands of the Sahara to volcanic black sand beaches courtesy of Mount Teide. In resort areas, the beaches are particularly well-tended, while other stretches of sand are tucked away in remote, unspoiled corners. With more than 40 miles of coastline, this island getaway offers a beach to match any mood.

Featuring white sand beaches, azure waters and plenty of space for aquatic activities, Playa el Duque is arguably the best-known beach on the island. But if a total disconnect is what you’re after, the golden sands, shallow shores and man-made reef of the underrated Las Teresitas beach will have you relaxing in no time.

what to do in tenerife
Soothe the soul on the sands of El Médano. (Photo: Getty Images)

And if nature soothes your senses, just to the right of Playa El Médano — the longest beach in Tenerife — is a saltwater nature reserve for migrating birds.

Enchanting Mountain, Cliff and Hiking Trails

The Teide National Park may be home to the highest point in Spain by way of Mount Teide’s summit (12,198 feet), but this UNESCO World Heritage site has plenty more to offer the nature-loving explorer. It boasts a lyrical landscape of valleys, forests and volcanic grounds — each with a number of hiking routes leading to striking views and natural wonders.

An optimum spot for sunset views is from Red Mountain near the island’s southern tip. It’s a 40-minute hike upward but well worth the effort for the mesmerizing views and peaceful surroundings.

what to do in tenerife
Nature lovers will find no shortage of hikes. (Photo: Getty Images)

Other spots worth a mention include Chio, a woodland area up the mountain that features stone BBQ grills for outdoor picnics, and the Masca trek through unspoiled valleys surrounded by flora and fauna then down again to the beach below.

For more remote exploration, try the often overshadowed Anaga Mountains, located on the oldest part of the island; there you’ll find a biosphere reserve with rugged hiking trails and uninhabited coastlines.

Perfect Year-Round Weather

Known as Isla de la Eterna Primavera (Island of Eternal Spring) for its temperate tropical climes, Tenerife averages a low of 59 F (15 C) in January and a high of 84 F (29 C) in August, meaning there really isn’t a bad time to visit.

During the colder months, sun seekers prefer the south side of the island, where rain seldom falls. Plus, with more than 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, visitors can weather a few light showers in the cooler, more verdant north side.

what to do in tenerife
Tenerife’s black sand beaches are another one of its marvels. (Photo: Getty Images)

Whale and Dolphin Watching

A treasured pastime for locals and visitors is watching dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. Home to more than 20 species of these majestic mammals, the best areas for spotting them are along the southern and western coastlines.

Boat and catamaran tours of varying sizes and options are offered in Adeje, Playa de Las Americas, Los Cristianos and Arona, but if you’re feeling lucky, do as the locals do and head out on a small private boat from the resort town of Los Gigantes for the most inspired views.

A Wealth of Dining Options

Tenerife’s simple fare of grilled meats, fish and vegetarian sides is readily available at the smallest family-run eateries or elevated with creative pairings in Michelin-starred restaurants.

A clever way to learn about the island’s cuisine and culture is to follow a guachinches route. These rustic bar-restos serve homemade regional tapas paired with artisan wines. The idea is to make several stops in a single day — a surefire way to get to know the natives.

On the other side of the spectrum, Michelin-starred M.B. restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Tenerife showcases creative interpretations of traditional Basque cuisine by chef Martín Berasategui, who hails from the region. Other acclaimed restaurants include El Rincon de Juan Carlos, which earned its Michelin stars with an impressive menu specializing in seafood and locally sourced produce.