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article imageTenerife - The Canary Island Of Eternal Spring

By Susanne Borchert     Dec 30, 2003 in Lifestyle
PUERTA DE LA CRUZ (dpa) - Tenerife is indisputably the largest and the most lofty of the Canary Islands. It covers just over 2,000 square kilometres, and the Pico del Teide summit is the highest point on Spanish soil, towering 3,717 metres above sea level.
Many people also consider Tenerife the most attractive of the Canary Islands and the island certainly offers a wide range of attractions for all types of visitors, from unspoilt landscapes to holiday sports. The bizarre stone deserts in the Caldera de las Canadas contrast starkly with fertile valleys where hibiscus, poinsettia and bougainvillaea flourish the whole year around.
Tenerife cannot offer as many wide, sandy beaches as neighbouring Gran Canaria. The southwest has a few bathing bays, but the best known beach is the Playa de las Teresitas, east of the capital Santa Cruz. It offers the finest sand carried on the wind from the Sahara. Along parts of the 350-kilometre coast, the trade winds reach force seven or eight, creating excellent conditions for windsurfers.
The south of Tenerife has changed enormously the past few years. It used to be an inhospitable barren landscape, but this has now given way to a giant holiday centre on the Costa Adeje.
Hotels, apartment complexes, shopping centres and bars have mushroomed in the resorts of Playa de las Americas and Los Christianos. The latter has been developed around a small town and harbour nucleus, but the Playa de las Americas has sprung entirely from the planners' drawing boards.
The resorts offer a complete tourist infrastructure with a wide range of sports from sailing to diving, golf, tennis and windsurfing. There is lively nightlife here, and the starting point for excursions such as boat tours to see dolphins or watch whales. For younger visitors, there are also theme parks such as Aquapark Octopus, a pleasure swimming pool complex for families with children.
The government of the Canary Islands, an autonomous community of Spain, has imposed a ban on hotel building for a year, thereby limiting expansion to around 100,000 hotel beds. It hopes this will preserve Tenerife's attractive natural landscape, which still flourishes beyond the towns and the concrete holiday complexes.
It is difficult to build on the steep hills, but the bizarre steep cliff tops offer wonderful views. In fine weather it is possible to see the neighbouring island of La Gomera, in the background is the Teide, the volcanic peak snow-capped in winter.
Many visitors follow in the footsteps of German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt and make an expedition up the Teide. Humboldt's way to the summit in 1799 was laborious, but today tourists have it much easier.
Four good roads from all parts of the island lead to the cable car station at the foot of the volcano. Two cable cars travel every 10 minutes from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. The trip is comfortable in a hire car but environmentally-conscious tourists tend to take the bus. The number 348 bus from Puerto de la Cruz on the north coast, or the 342 from Las Americas and Los Christianos both lead here.
One of the prettiest routes to the Teide starts in La Laguna, the island's second largest town, in the north. The Carretera Borsal (forest road) leads through the Bosque de la Esperanza (the forest of hope). There are viewing platforms all along the mountain route offering fine views of the landscape descending to the coast, the fertile Orotava Valley, Puerto de la Cruz and the blue Atlantic.
The small town of La Orotava is also well worth a visit. The old quarter with its tiny, winding and steep streets has been well preserved. The peaceful atmosphere here gives visitors plenty of time to study the splendid facades, and the artistically engraved balconies of wealthy old town houses.
After that, you might decide to relax over a cafe con leche in one of the street cafes on the Plaza de la Constitucion, adorned with flowers, and enjoy the view over the rooftops down to the coast.
An inland holiday offers a peaceful alternative to the overcrowded tourist centres on the coast. Tenerife is especially well suited to a finca holiday, because the high landscape means nearly all of these villas enjoy a view down to the sea. Some fincas also offer riding or wellness programs.
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