Catering to European holidaymakers since the package tour explosion of the 1960s, Tenerife has continued to develop and now offers something for all types of tourist. Overdevelopment has been detrimental to the original ambience that was first sold to visitors to Tenerife in the early days, but large numbers of visiting couples, families and groups of friends suggest that the island is still ‘number one’ in the hearts of many travellers.
Most flights to Tenerife arrive at the island’s southern airport, Reina Sofia, which offers easy access to the island’s most popular resorts of Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. Playa de las Americas is a purpose-built resort with hectic nightlife. Areas in the central nightlife zones, such the Veronicas complex, mostly cater to groups of young and single travellers. However, the outskirts of Playa de las Americas are much more peaceful, offering a family-friendly welcome to all kinds of guests.
While most revellers in Playa de las Americas are out for a good time, drunkenness can be a problem. However, the local police are quick to react to bad behaviour and act as an excellent deterrent to would-be troublemakers. Walking home alone late at night is ill-advised due to the small number of active pickpockets and muggers. It’s worth noting that despite these issues, the vast majority of guests have a trouble-free stay.
While the Las Americas nightlife is legendary, its beaches are less noted, but they get crowded during the day, nonetheless. Swimming in the warm Atlantic waters is safe, but the black sand can be a turn-off for many. Those looking for more aesthetically-pleasing stretches of sand might prefer to head towards Los Cristianos, where yellow sand can be found.
Besides the beaches, guests will find plenty of other activities and excursions originating in the resort, such as go-karting, golf and scuba diving. Meanwhile, more leisurely excursions include glass-bottomed boat tours and whale-watching trips, many of which have lunch included. Farther afield, La Gomera is a small island which is 40 minutes by ferry from Tenerife and is popular among day-trippers from Las Americas.
Local shops are good for cheap cigarettes and alcohol, but shoppers might want to avoid buying local electronics, which are often unreliable. Similarly, local timeshare salespeople are best avoided. A much better shopping experience can be found at the Los Cristianos Market, which takes place on Sunday when many shops are closed.
Food in the south is typical tourist fare, such as fast food, pizza and full English breakfasts. Adventurous diners who would like to try some local cuisine should not be put off by the language barrier since Spanish menus in the south of the island have usually been translated into European languages. Fish features on many local menus, as do papas arrugadas (black potatoes); unskinned potatoes served with a local sauce. The number of ‘all-you-can-eat’ Chinese buffet restaurants is also on the rise.
Given the sprawling nature of Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos, accommodation in the resorts varies widely. It’s a good idea to research accommodation thoroughly before booking, as many hotels in the liveliest areas are affected by loud noise. There are, however, a number of four- and five-star hotels where service and quality is much more consistent.