It is almost impossible to choose just a handful of Tenerife's many volcanic wonders that you must see, but here are some suggestions that will make your holiday an unforgettable experience:
1. TOUCH THE SKY WITH YOUR FINGERTIPS.
Tenerife is a great example of the fact that bigger is not always better. Despite its relatively small size (2,034 square kilometres/1,263 square miles), Tenerife is home to Spain's highest peak: Mount Teide, towering 3,718 metres (12,198 feet) high. To reach it, you will probably have to breach a thick blanket of cloud, which in itself makes the journey worthwhile for some people. As you break through the clouds, a mighty volcano towers above you – no less than the third-tallest on Earth when measured from the base.
2. ENJOY A WORLD HERITAGE SITE.
Teide National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its diversity of volcanic landscapes and its rich wildlife full of unique species that you won't find anywhere else in such numbers, there is no doubt that it is deserving of such an honourable distinction. Vulcanologists the world over are fascinated by what for them is a genuine natural laboratory.
3. JOURNEY INTO SPACE.
You can always wait patiently for somebody to sell economy tickets to a planet like Mars. But for now, there is a more affordable, realistic and safer option: come to Tenerife! Some of the Island's landscape is identical to that of the Red Planet, so cheer up – this is your chance to embark on a journey into space!
4. VENTURE INTO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH.
The world is home to many volcanic cavities, but none as labyrinthine as the Cueva del Viento cave in Icod de los Vinos. So far, its different levels have been found to contain 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) of passageways and tunnels, but expert speleologists are still exploring deeper. Do you dare to venture into the depths of the earth and discover how it feels to be enveloped in complete darkness and perpetual silence?
5. TASTE SOME HIGH-ALTITUDE WINES.
You may think that volcanic land is no place for farming, but in fact, it produces some of the most fertile soils. The vineyards of the charming village of Vilaflor in Tenerife grow at higher altitudes than any others in Europe, and the whole Island produces unique wines that have long been popular in Europe.
6. EXPERIENCE VOLCANIC TRADITIONS.
Every five years, the hillsides in the town of Garachico are the setting for a great display: huge balls of fire are sent rolling down them to simulate the advancing lava that buried the town in 1706. This is one of the most unusual traditions linked to Tenerife's volcanic past, but dozens more take place all over the Island.
7. RUB SHOULDERS WITH THE FRIENDLY LOCALS.
However harsh the volcanic landscape may seem, the Island's inhabitants have managed to adapt to their natural surroundings. Visitors from across the world are charmed by their tough yet humble nature and their cheerful, friendly and good-natured character.
8. PLUNGE INTO DELIGHTFUL POOLS.
Take a dip in the pools of petrified lava that line the Island's coast in Garachico, Punta del Hidalgo, Bajamar, Arico, Santiago del Teide and Los Silos. When the tide comes in, it fills them with fresh and foamy sea water for you to soak in.
9. DISCOVER UNTOUCHED NATURE.
Get your senses tingling as you explore Tenerife's wild volcanic landscapes. Visitors and locals alike are always delighted with the experience of hiking in a setting like Teide National Park, wandering through laurel forests or strolling along the coast.
10. EAT AND BE MERRY.
The local restaurants, taverns and "guachinches" (the term used for unassuming traditional food establishments that serve their own house wine) will all delight you with delicious recipes that capture the Island's volcanic essence. Honey, wine, potatoes, fruit, fish... We are certain that they will all surprise you.
11. SMILE AT THE SUNSET.
Sometimes, when you've had a bad day, the simplest and most unexpected things can bring a huge smile to your face. Watching the sunset in any of the Island's volcanic settings has this magical effect. Try it from Mount Teide, Bajamar or Isla Baja (a beautiful little region in the north-west of Tenerife).
12. BE IN A THOUSAND DIFFERENT PLACES AT ONCE.
Much of the Island's charm lies in the huge diversity of its landscapes and how quickly you can go from one to another. In the blink of an eye, you will go from breathing in pure mountain air in the midst of a pine forest to splashing in the sea while relaxing on a lilo. As each landscape gives way to the next, you get the feeling you are in a thousand places at once.
13. STARTING YOUR TRIP
There are centres dotted all around the north and south of Tenerife that can provide you with detailed, interactive and entertaining information on how volcanoes have influenced the landscape and life of the Island.
Starting your journey at one of these centres is a good idea. Otherwise, you can stop off at one or several of them during your volcanic tour of the Island (insert addresses):
- Museum of Nature and Man
- San Miguel Castle
- San Blas Environmental Reserve
- Puerto de la Cruz Archaeology Museum
- Los Pedregales Visitors Centre
- El Portillo Visitors Centre
- Cañada Blanca Visitors Centre
- La Baranda House of Wine
14. SLEEP LIKE A LOG
When you need to recharge your batteries, the best thing to do is find somewhere cosy and comfortable. So while you're enjoying a volcanic experience in the heart of nature, what better than a place that blends into its surroundings? All five of the Island's territories can offer you charming country cottages and hotels so you can choose where to spend your nights.