1. Go all starry-eyed at Mount Teide
Tenerife’s most outstanding geographical feature is a colossal dormant volcano, and the tallest peak in Spain at 3,718m above sea level. Thanks to its remoteness and altitude, Mount Teide and the surrounding national park enjoy some of the clearest skies anywhere in Europe, so it’s become a prime destination for stargazers. Swivel your eyes heavenward – you’ll be able to make out 83 of the 88 registered constellations, and even peer at the Andromeda Galaxy some 2.538 million light years away, through a telescope, like some kind of nosy interstellar neighbour.
2. Chillax on a pitch-black beach
One of Tenerife’s most eye-catching – not to say commendably gothic – features is its black beaches, especially in the north of the island. Why black? The island is volcanic, and the roll of the waves turns that fresh black rock into fine sand. Great examples like Playa de Las Gaviotas can be found not far from the capital Santa Cruz. Alternatively, Playa Jardin is also beautiful, while Playa Los Patos is somewhat more remote and renowned for being nudist friendly. Word to the wise though, with that in mind – black sand heats up in direct sunlight a good deal quicker than regular sand.
3. Drop in on a local rock star
Looking for all the world like a backdrop to a Wile-E-Coyote cartoon, Roque Cinchado is a many-millenia old rock formation with a curiously narrow base that experts say is still eroding, and will one day topple over altogether. Better get a move on to see it then. Fully 88 feet high, it’s still somehow defying gravity and is so attractive it once featured on 1,000 peseta banknotes before Spain joined the Eurozone. It's photogenic and gloriously evocative of the island’s ancient geological past – you’d have to be pretty stony-hearted not to be impressed.
4. Make a huge splash at Siam Park
Reckon that water parks are all much of a muchness? Think again. Siam Park is not only a spectacular, thrill-packed wet-and-wild day out, with rapids, flumes, wave machines and towering slides, it’s also rather romantically designed to resemble a Thai village. And before you cry ‘cultural appropriation’, bear in mind its pointy roofs, golden embellishments and dragon motif have been personally granted a seal of approval by the Thai royal family. Indeed, the park was officially opened in 2007 by Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
5. Grab some grub at a guachinche
If you want to dine out in true Canarian style, the best way is to drop by a guachinche (pronounced ‘wa-chin-chey’). These humble eating houses were originally established by wineries looking to ply their wet wares alongside some simple home-cooked food. They’re only allowed to open for some months of the year, and tend to cluster in the north, where the wine is grown – drive around Tacoronte, Tegueste, Los Realejos or Santa Ursula regions and look for signs, and expect makeshift dishes of rabbit, goat and assorted stews.
6. Hike through history in the Anaga mountains
For an arresting, photogenic mixture of terrains you can’t do better than an early morning hike up in the Anaga mountains. Here, on the oldest part of the island, unique species and ecosystems like laurel forests and unique species of moss have developed and thrived. The terrain rises into sharp peaks and descends into steep, misty ravines, and every now and then you’re treated to knockout views of the twinkling coastline far below between the prehistoric dragon trees. For best results, hum the Jurassic Park theme under your breath as you go.
7. Have a whale of a time off the Adeje coast
Tenerife’s blessed location, on the fringes of the Atlantic near some deep oceanic trenches, make it a stellar spot to get out and metaphorically high-five some of our colossal cetacean bros. Bottlenose dolphins and fin whales are found splashing around all year round, but it’s certainly not unheard of to come across baleen whales, fin whales, humpback whales, sei whales, minke whales and even blue whales. Costa Adeje's Whale Watch Tenerife will happily set up a memorable encounter with these giants of Canarian society.
8. Take in a show at Auditorio de Tenerife
A show-stopping work of engineering and architectural expressionism, the Auditorio de Tenerife – which hosts the majority of the island’s classical, operatic and large scale jazz concerts – is frequently compared to the Sydney Opera House. But surely that’s no bad thing. Designed by lauded Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava – who also designed Manhattan's new World Trade Centre metro station – the hall has welcomed some of the greatest artists of the contemporary classical scene, and is well worth visiting as a great, sinuous work of art in itself.
9. Make time to smell the roses at Jardin Botanico
Thanks to its unique climate, the island of Tenerife is blessed both with stacks of beautiful native plant species, and lots of imports brought over in the 18th century by enterprising colonial types looking to show off the fruits of their global adventures. Jardin Botanico very much dates back to that era, and is bursting with weird and wonderful exotica like pineapple plants, a 200-year-old fig tree and plenty of hypnotically shaped orchids. If nothing else, it’s a superb place to cool off on a hot, hungover day.
2 Calle Retama, Puerto de la Cruz
Standard entry €3
10. Get dolled up at ARTlandya
For a genuinely quirky museum experience, head to the green and pleasant region of Icod de Los Vinos and seek out ARTlandya. Years ago, eccentric Austrian couple Georg and Ingrid moved some of their vast doll, toy and teddy bear collection into a renovated farmhouse. Today, hundreds of pretty figures grace the walls and cabinets, and the owners are usually more than happy to regale how they came by each and every treasured member of their immobile family. Several were even commissioned by the couple and made by renowned artists working in the field. As wholesome a day out as you could ask for.Book your flights to Tenerife Book your holiday to Tenerife