It’s not that I don’t like beaches; in fact I have been lucky to enjoy some amazing ones on islands and destinations all over the world.
But my latest challenge was to experience another side of Tenerife and keep away from theirs.
This destination does however, have a myriad of draws other than the various coloured sandy beaches that surround it.
Visited by most of Europe with of course the largest number coming from Spain; Tenerife does manage to clock up just over 5 million tourists per year at the moment.
Therefore the question is how many will prise themselves off their beach and hotel sunbeds to explore the island?
Certainly you do not have to be too far from a beach to enjoy another side of Tenerife.
The delights of whale and dolphin watching in the seas surrounding the islands are short boat ride from the harbour of Los Cristianos. With an almost 100% certainty that you can quickly make contact with our fellow mammals that in their case inhabit the deep channel between Tenerife and the island of La Gomera.
On the ‘Freebird’ catamaran tour it was not long before Bottle Nosed Dolphins were seen followed by Pilot Whales and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, all seemingly taking turns to swim around and even under the netted centre of the catamaran.
This gave my fellow passengers and I great views and at one stage even being sprayed with water as one plucky whale blew out their breath right under me as I lay on the netted area photographing them as they did!
Even nearer to the beach there is the chance to try diving for the first time in the clear waters. Here some divers even had a face-to-face contact with turtles that inhabit these waters too.
Next and a little more of a physical challenge, however, never the less a really worth while experience and that is the chance to visit the highest point in Spain and take on a trip to the summit of Mount Teide.
ANOTHER SIDE OF TENERIFE THE HOLIDAY ISLAND
At over 3,718 metres high (12,000feet) a drive of under an hour with get you from the beaches to the cable station situated at 2,356 metres above sea level. Here the cable cars will whisk you in a few minutes to breath sapping height of 3,555 metres and to the extensive viewing areas around the upper station there.
Panoramic views, stunning sunsets and the stars to admire are also on offer from there. Go even higher if you really want some serious exercise there you can ascend to the very top. However, you do need to complete some formal paper work and take a guide with you.
Whilst in the Teide National Park it is also possible to visit the nearby Astronomic Observatory that is based near to the mountain.
Or how about spend a night at the AltaVista Mountain Refuge? See the sunset at night and then wake early and watch the sunrise in the morning in the clear air at 3,270 metres high?
There are many walking trails around the national park that you can explore. The wooded areas of striking Canary Island Pine Tree forests are wonderful but so are the arid volcanic areas that have their own beauty too.
Yet another way to view Tenerife from high above is to take a tandem para-glider ride with ‘Enminube’ who operate such flights offering a choice of 8 different locations to take off from and aerial trips last around 30 minutes.
The major area for beach tourism is in the south but in the much lusher and forested north of the island has some wonderful appeal for those that crave a wider culture.
The ancient town of La Laguna with its right-angled street plan layout is full of tradition buildings very different to the hotel areas of Los Christianos and Playa das Americas.
Santa Cruz, the capital with its harbour, where once Admiral Nelson was subjected to a rare defeat and lost an arm for his troubles there as he tried to capture the port.
There is much more harmony on its harbourside today as the unique opera and concert hall the ‘Auditorio’, that was designed by celebrated Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava Valls, now stands alongside former 17th century defensive forts.
Giant monuments and large office and banking businesses pepper the city skyline that was where the Spanish Civil war was effectively planned by a youthful General Franco or rather in the nearby forests where he held secret meetings.
Close by a place to stay could be the Hotel Spa Villa Alba built in the Canary Island style this small and cosy establishment has a spa and pool, which you could find being used by the likes of Bradley Wiggins.
Here top cycle riders come and use the hotel facilities whilst they prepare at altitude before major events. Members of the ‘Sky’ cycling team and other sport’s people use the islands in this way too.
Hotel Botanico in Puerto de la Cruz is an excellent classical style, five star, hotel that has been used by Michael Jackson and the King of Spain. Here too, the hotel boosts an excellent spa and extensive restful gardens.
If their gardens are not enough then across the road are the island’s own botanical gardens. This world-class horticultural park is packed with exotic, lush and colourful specimens.
The Loro Parque is a giant zoological garden has developed over the years into a research and education facility is only a few miles from Puerto de la Cruz. Although personally, I have issues with dolphins, sea lions and orcas, being used as entertainment.
At a much smaller scale a modest petting farm and garden is attached to the La Granja Verde a popular restaurant which offers a first rate modern Canarian dining experience in the village of La Ortava. It has rooms for intimate dining, larger interior restaurants and in the extensive gardens room for many more alfresco diners. Chef Juan Carlos Clemente who has held a Michelin Star produces some amazing food there.
Food and wine rank highly so away from the beaches you can even be a little more naughty as one vineyard has added in sex! La Bodega Monje at El Sauzal they offer a refined and erotic dinner called ‘Wine & Sex’ and is simply a very different dining experience.
It is a dinner and wine tasting combined that invites you to enjoy wine through its erotic and gastronomic side. The pre-booked event makes for an original and fun evening with music, performing arts, and eroticism. Here you can even leave your most desired sexual fantasy written on a note and posted into a special barrel in their huge wine cellar.
And if that will not get you off the beach, then I do not what else could!