Tenerife, the island of eternal spring.
Tenerife owes its fortunate climate to its location just past the Tropic of Cancer and its topography.
Running from East to West the Canary Islands are - Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. There are also six small islets of which only La Graciosa off the coast of Lanzarote is inhabited.
Tenerife roughly triangular in shape is at a little over 2,000 square kilometres the largest of the Canary Islands. It is located between parallels 28 and 29N and meridians 16 and 17W, midway between Gran Canaria and La Gomera, roughly 300 km from the coast of Africa and 1,500 km from mainland Spain. It is approximately 4 hours flight from Gatwick, depending which way the wind blows. El Teide at 3718 metres is the highest mountain in Spain.
In the centre of the island is a gigantic volcanic crater - Las Cañadas. Las Cañadas together with El Teide was declared a national park in 1954 - Parque Nacional del Teide. At Portillo de la Villa there is an información point - Centro de Interpretación e Información.
El Teide divides Tenerife into two climatic zones. The South hot and dry with an arid desert landscape, only scrub and other adapted vegetation grows. The North softer with lush green vegetation, more rainfall and frequent cloud cover. This is most noticeable on a drive from the airport in the South around to Puerto de la Cruz in the Orotava Valley in the North. At Santa Cruz, on the dividing line, the landscape changes from dry arid scrubland to more greener vegetation. Outside Santa Cruz just past La Laguna, green cultivated fields, further on lush green vegetation in the open countryside. This is particularly noticeable in the Orotava Valley, a natural amphitheatre that captures the moisture from the prevailing trade winds.
Follow the coast road from Puerto de la Cruz northwards and you will see the dramatic landscape as the mountains tumble down to the sea and deep ravines penetrate into the mountainside.
The main resorts match the climate. Playa de las Américas in the South with wall to wall sunshine is brash and vulgar. Puerto de la Cruz in the more temperate North is mellow, subtle and laid back.
The prevailing Westerly Trade Winds and Ocean Currents help to moderate the climate - warm in Winter and not too hot in Summer. Between Winter and Summer the average temperature varies by little more than 10 degrees centigrade.
Tenerife is more than the playas and a day trip to Loro Parque or El Teide. Of increasing importance is turismo rural. This can be anything from a trek in the countryside, a stay in a small country house or a combination of both.
Tenerife is becoming increasingly over dependent upon tourism. A downturn in the European economy, especially now most countries have strongly coupled economies, will hit Tenerife doubly hard. Unlike Cyprus, no attempt is being made to diversify. There is growing conflict with tourism and environmental degradation. Ecologist in Action have criticised much so-called sustainable tourism as no more than image building. Fundación Encuentro in their report España 1998 have also highlighted the environmental degradation caused by tourism. The main problems being saturation of space, erosion of beaches, over exploitation of water resources, loss of ecosystems, water contamination, noise and deterioration of landscapes. The worst hit areas are the Canaries and the Mediterranean coast. Unless a halt is called to the building expansion Tenerife will soon disappear under concrete.
Tourism is big business for Tenerife. Turismo de Tenerife, presented its Action Plan for 2009. The Plan includes a whole range of activities aimed at ensuring that the island maintains its position as a leading tourist destination. For 2009, the marketing budget was 9.5 million euros, 58% of which, ie 5.5 million euros, to be aimed at UK, Germany and Spain, the main markets for Tenerife tourists. Money was also to be spent attracting tourists from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, Czech Republic and Russia, and Scandinavia, France and Italy. [see Tenerife presents is Action Plan for 2009 to maintain its lead as a tourist destination]
Turismo de Tenerife are planning for an increase in tourism. This is not to face reality. More concrete will destroy why people come to Tenerife. It also ignores Peak Oil and Global Warming. Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. The future will be a decline in tourism. Tenerife needs to concentrate on quality tourism, not mass market tourism. Already they are unable to compete with Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, who are able to provide a much higher quality stay at half the price.
The Arona Council Tourist Board (South Tenerife) has kindly supplied a WebCam so that you can view the beach at Playa de las Vistas!
Tenerife is on a whale migration route and whale watching trips take place from the south of the island. A third of all species of whales and dolphins live in or pass through the waters of the Canary Islands. Whales are an endangered species. High speed ferries are killing whales and dolphins and the sheer mass of whale watching boats is disturbing resting whales and dolphins and harassing them to death. Tourists should avoid both the high speed ferries and the whale watching trips. Tour operators should comply with their own codes of conduct and not organise these trips or in any way promote them.
More information on the whales and dolphins and the problems they face from tourism may be obtained from:
Tenerife has several English and German language newspapers. Typical of the English papers is the fortnightly Tenerife News. The government, in what is little more than a crude attack on free speech, has been clamping down on the English press and radio stations. Few have little doubt that this is because they are doing too good a job at exposing corruption in high places.
Tenerife has its own symphony orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, based in the capital Santa Cruz.
The Cabildo Insular de Tenerife maintains its own pages on Tenerife (en español solamente).