Costa Adeje, Tenerife, the Canary Islands
Next up in our travel diaries is Costa Adeje, Tenerife, the Canary Islands. I have to confess, when I think of a Spanish island holiday I’m reminded of my two week trip to Magaluf after my A Levels and foam parties, laying on the beach all day and boat trips where shots are poured into your mouth. However our family holiday to Tenerife this year pleasantly surprised us...
We stayed at the Sheraton La Caleta. Although part of a big chain it’s charmingly built in red Spanish style stone with lush gardens and lagoon pools and it occupies a prime water front position. We had delicious and atmospheric meals in the onsite Spanish and Japanese restaurants and all the staff were really friendly and helpful. We were less keen on the buffet, possibly because they’re currently in the process of renovating the restaurant where it’s usually served so it felt a bit temporary and less extensive than you would expect. We also ate in a lovely restaurant called El Torre del Mirador which was a short walk along the sea front and overlooked the water. There are several bars, cafes, shops and restaurants along this stretch and we enjoyed running there in the mornings. The rooms at the Sheraton are spacious and we had a stunning sea view. The kids pool is fantastic, the biggest we’ve known, though it isn’t as shallow as some so a toddler couldn’t stand up. There are also two big pools in the main pool area and a shallow paddling pool in the kids club. The beach just outside the hotel back gate is a mixture of black sand and tiny pebbles but if you walk along to the next beach some golden sand has been imported. The beaches are nice enough though quite busy and the water is a little rough. We had fun playing in the waves but generally preferred to spend most of our time by the pools. The final lovely touch to mention is the complementary 9 hole mini golf which our boys loved!
To get a break from constantly watching the children in the pools (where they would’ve happily spent the whole two weeks!) we took three excursions. Firstly we chartered a boat for a day and pootled along the coast to see the stunning Los Gigantes Cliffs and swim in the bays on the way there and back. The rock formations were incredible and it was great to get out on the water and feel free with the sea breeze on our faces. The water was a little choppy for those who get sea sick and my sister, who is renowned for travel sicknesses and also pregnant, suffered a bit.
We then drove to Mount Teide which towers 3718 metres above sea level at its highest point, and if measured from the ocean floor is the highest volcano, base to peak, outside of the Hawaiian Islands and the Earth’s third tallest volcano. The boys were in awe to find out that we were going to visit an active volcano and we had a lovely chat about active/dormant/extinct. In actual fact Teide hasn’t erupted since 1909 so we were pretty safe. We weren’t expecting such stunning scenery and the whole family really enjoyed the drive and the views! We arrived at the lava field at the foot of the volcano via pine forests and watched as the trees disappeared and the terrain turned rocky. You can go up to the summit in a cable car but because we had my sister who is pregnant with us and she couldn’t ride we stuck together and went for a hike and admired the landscape which was still stunning at just over 2000 metres.
For our third excursion we braved the winding roads through the mountains to the north of the island and hit the Loro Parque. I visited as a child when it was a collection of beautiful gardens and a parrot show. Nowadays it’s much more, with fantastic animal attractions in the park and many conservation projects running throughout the world. We felt like we were observing a penguin colony in the wilds of Antartica in the penguin experience. You stand on a conveyor belt and go all around their circular enclosure watching them preen, dive off the ice and swim underwater. The Orca whales had the boys gasping. They haven’t seen whales in the wild before so it must’ve been amazing for them to see the real thing after seeing them in so many picture books. Many of the whales had been rescued and couldn’t survive in the wild, or were born in captivity, and they were clearly really well loved and cared for. The parrot show also had our two in fits of giggles and wowed as the parrots swept just above their heads in the audience. Plus there are also so many other species in the park to admire...sea lions, dolphins, parrots, flamingos, monkeys, chimps, gorillas, hippos, alligators, lions and fabulous displays of jellyfish and other marine animals in the aquarium... The only challenges were that, given we visited in peak season, the car park was full and we had to find a spot up the hill, and the charming but narrow walkways in the park were a little overcrowded. It was more blissful later in the day when the crowds dwindled (and if we’d arrived for opening time it probably would’ve been the same then). Other top tips are to buy tickets online to skip the entrance queues (we actually bought ours online while standing in the queue) and also arrive in plenty of time for the shows as they get full (we couldn't get into the dolphin show).
There are other opportunities for day trips that we didn’t manage this time including a submarine ride, the Siam water park which would probably suit a family with slightly older children and is supposed to be really fun, paramotoring (in the sky down from the mountains - the sky is full of them!) and paragliding (behind a boat), trips to Mount Teide by night to see the stars and several coves and little towns dotted around the island.
All in all we had a wonderfully relaxing time, scattered with day trips to keep us amused. My view of the Spanish Islands is altered to a classier one, though I’m sure a visit to Playa de las Americas would take me back to my partying youth if I wanted to go there (we didn’t check it out!) It was mainly a rejuvenation holiday after our busy year but we still found plenty to entertain ourselves and had a perfectly lovely family holiday staying in a really welcoming and comfortable hotel.