Unplanned: the Tenerife you never knew
PETER GRUNERT Group Editor, Lonely Planet magazine @peter vg73
I SWORE I’D NEVER GO BACK to Tenerife: three times over in fact, each after holidays in my early 20s. Memories of sticky nightclubs, greasy food, scuttling cockroaches, building sites everywhere and a background scent of sewage finally led to a two-decade separation between us. But parenthood, of course, changes everything. My five-year-old daughter’s second-ever half-term holiday was coming up, the south of Tenerife was looking like the only sunny place across the whole of Europe, and so the time came to give the most-visited Canary Island another chance. At the last minute we booked a hotel and overpriced budget airline flights. As it turned out, the experiences we hadn’t planned were the ones we most enjoyed. Drove along perfectly surfaced roads up Spain’s highest mountain (3,718m active volcano Teide – also see above). Collected lava for a primary school show-and-tell. Gawped at one of Europe’s weirdest and loveliest national parks, not at all far from the sprawling development of the coast. I’ve somehow turned into an early morning jogger, and on this stretch from Los Cristianos to Adeje, I found such different views to the mass of midday and night-time tourists. The light was beautiful, the beaches empty, and many locals were either sipping cortados in cafés or out exercising alongside. With the gloom of winter and the temperature 27°C lower back home in London, it was hard to imagine that the Atlantic (and the south of Tenerife for that matter) could be so sparkling and attractive just four hours’ flight away. It was our last night and we stumbled across this restaurant, La Torre del Mirador in Adeje. We almost didn’t go in, worrying we’d be paying for the sunset views and the convenience of menus in four languages, not good food. But once again our preconceptions were wrong: the octopus and whopping prawns were among the best we’ve ever eaten in Spain.