Tenerife is the largest of the seven major Canary Islands, which are scattered over 300 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, starting about 60 miles northwest of Morocco in Africa. The archipelago is part of Spain, and the islands have a diverse climate and topography. When reading about the Canaries, I thought their formation sounded much like that of the Hawaiian Islands. Both the Canary and Hawaiian islands are strings of underwater volcanoes, and because of the millions of years separating each island's development, they are all very different.
Much like Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian island and Hawaii is the youngest, the Canary Islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are both over 20 million years old, followed by Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Gomera (12 million years old), and the "baby" islands of La Palma and Tenerife (two to three million years old).
Canarios claim that all of the islands have spring-like weather year round, with lots of sunshine. Most of the small amount of rainfall comes between October and May. Cruise ships often visit the Canary Islands when repositioning between the Caribbean and Europe.
Tenerife. It is about 790 square miles, and the landscape is dominated by the 12,198-foot Mount Teide, the highest peak on Spanish territory. Called the "Island of Eternal Spring" by the locals, Tenerife is covered by fields of such diverse flora as bananas, oranges, and tomatoes.
Cruise ships offer several shore excursions on Tenefire, or guests might choose to explore on their own.
Orotava Valley and Puerto de la Cruz
This tour provides a look at the scenic Orotava Valley along with a visit to Tenerife's most popular resort, Puerto de la Cruz. The Orotava Valley stretches from the foot of Mount Teide to the Atlantic. The tour includes walking through beautiful gardens and views of the lush valley. Before returning to the ship, participants have about an hour to explore the shops and cafes in Puerto de la Cruz.
Most of this tour will be spent on a bus, but it is the best way to see Mount Teide, and the ride to the dormant volcano is a scenic one. There are stops along the route for making pictures.
This is the tour we did, and the winding drive up to Mount Teide was a little scary, but well worth it to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We drove through the clouds and were able to look down on them. The mountain is at a high enough elevation to give the landscape a lunar appearance. It was a very worthwhile trip, and we had time to drink a coffee and take a bathroom break before the ride back to the ship.
Puerto de la Cruz on Your Own
This is not really a tour, but is a round-trip transfer from the ship to the resort city of Puerto de la Cruz. The ride takes about 20 minutes, and there is an English-speaking hostess on board to answer questions and provide information about Puerto de la Cruz.
Touring Tenerife on Your Own
The port of Santa Cruz is about half a mile from the city center. Canario handicrafts include embroidered linens and ceramics. There are also good buys on luxury items such as leather, silks, perfumes, and jewelry. Santa Cruz has a couple of interesting museums and a richly gilded church that houses one of Admiral Nelson's flags from the battle of Santa Cruz in 1797.
The Auditorio de Tenerife, or the Tenerife Concert Hall or Auditorium, is a fascinating piece of Spanish architecture. Completed in 2003, the auditorium is located in the central part of Tenerife near the train station.