Tan­ta­liz­ing Tener­ife!

Golf Vacations - - Contents - By JD La­torre

I was re­cently in­vited by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Golf Tour Op­er­a­tors (IAGTO) (www.iagto.com) to their an­nual In­ter­na­tional Golf Travel Mar­ket (IGTM) held this past Oc­to­ber in Tener­ife, Spain. Not know­ing two bits of knowl­ege about this fas­ci­nat­ing is­land, the largest of the seven is­lands that make up the archipelago of the Is­las Ca­narias, my first thought was, “Where in the world are the Ca­nary Is­lands and who in the world va­ca­tions there?”

Iwas re­cently in­vited by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Golf Tour Op­er­a­tors (IAGTO) (www.iagto.com) to their an­nual In­ter­na­tional Golf Travel Mar­ket (IGTM) held this past Oc­to­ber in Tener­ife, Spain. Not know­ing two bits of knowl­edge about this fas­ci­nat­ing is­land, the largest of the seven is­lands that make up the archipelago of the Is­las Ca­narias, my first thought was, “Where in the world are the Ca­nary Is­lands and who in the world va­ca­tions there?”

I quickly found out why over 13 mil­lion tourists visit the Ca­nary Is­lands each year (over 5 mil­lion to Tener­ife it­self). One word might sum up this vol­canic par­adise and that is the “Hawaii’ of the At­lantic. It con­tains all the nat­u­ral beauty and splen­dor of the Hawai­ian Is­lands, but adds in its own charm­ing, yet very cos­mopoli­tan, cul­tural mix of Spain. Sprin­kle in in­flu­ences from the rest of Europe (Brits and Ger­mans es­pe­cially love the warm em­brace of the is­land’s year-round cli­mate) and a dash of Africa, and you have a tourist mecca that will keep you com­ing back year af­ter year.

The largest of the is­land chain is Tener­ife, sit­u­ated less than 200 miles from the African coast, and about 800 miles from the Span­ish Main­land. It has a unique tri­an­gu­lar shape, with the gi­gan­tic Mount Teide vol­cano ris­ing up in the cen­ter of the is­land, to over 12,000 feet, making it the high­est point in all of Spain.

LEG­END

Even be­fore the Ca­nary Is­lands were part of history as such, they were leg­endary as the myth­i­cal lands be­yond the Pil­lars of Her­cules, the Gi­bral­tar Straits, to­ward the Dark Sea. Par­adise, the Elysian Fields or the Gar­den of the Hes­perides are of­ten placed here by Clas­si­cal au­thors. One of the first re­li­able re­ports of the is­lands comes from Pliny who, in the 1st cen­tury, spoke of an ex­pe­di­tion sent by Juba, King of Mau­ri­ta­nia, which brought back gi­ant dogs as a sou­venir of the ad­ven­ture. This is the ori­gin of the name of the is­lands: Ca­nary Is­lands, from can or canes. Mag­nif­i­cent ex­am­ples of th­ese fierce-look­ing na­tive hunt­ing dogs can still be found in the is­lands, where they are called “verdi­nos” on some is­lands and “bardi­nos” on oth­ers. It is hardly sur­pris­ing that the first leg­endary and his­toric ac­counts of the Ca­nary Is­lands al­most al­ways men­tion Tener­ife, also known as Ni­varia, as the sight of an enor­mous snow­capped moun­tain, stick­ing up above the clouds at those lat­i­tudes and vis­i­ble for miles around, must have made quite an im­pres­sion on those an­cient sea­far­ers.

THE TRADE WINDS AND MI­CRO-CLI­MATES

Tener­ife is known through­out the world as the Is­land of Eter­nal Spring. Its ge­o­graphic po­si­tion, in an imag­i­nary strip around the world in which you find some of the best hol­i­day

It's oh so easy to fall in love with this Amaz­ing Span­ish Isle

spots in the world, means that this slo­gan is not far from truth.

The rea­sons for the gen­tle cli­mate are the pre­vail­ing winds - the trade winds - the orog­ra­phy of the ter­rain it­self and the cold Ca­nary cur­rent, which en­sures that the coasts and beaches of Tener­ife al­ways enjoy mag­nif­i­cent tem­per­a­tures, some­times above the tem­per­a­ture of the air.

In gen­eral, the Is­land’s cli­mate is mild, tem­per­ate and mod­er­ate through­out the year. Av­er­age tem­per­a­tures fluc­tu­ate be­tween 62º and 65º F in win­ter, and up to 75º or 77º F in sum­mer. What us Amer­i­cans might call “San Diego weather”, which is about as good as it gets! Th­ese tem­per­a­tures are es­pe­cially ap­pli­ca­ble in coastal ar­eas where most of the tourist re­sorts are sit­u­ated.

Tener­ife has a sur­pris­ingly rich bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity due to its spe­cial cli­mate. The rugged ter­rain of the is­land mod­i­fies the gen­eral weather con­di­tions, gen­er­at­ing a wide range of mi­cro-cli­mates.

The abun­dance of mi­cro-cli­mates, and, there­fore, nat­u­ral habi­tats, is re­flected in the rich and var­ied veg­e­ta­tion to be found on the is­land (1400 species of higher plants, in­clud­ing many species en­demic to the Ca­nary Is­lands (200) and to Tener­ife (140).

TENER­IFE TOURISM COR­PO­RA­TION and LAND­MARK ME­DIA

On open­ing day of the IGTM, held at the spec­tac­u­lar Magma Con­ven­tion fa­cil­ity in the South of Tener­ife, I had the good for­tune of meet­ing two of the Tener­ife Tourism Cor­po­ra­tion’s top of­fi­cers, Pia Louw and Karen Blan­chard. Ac­com­mo­dat­ing as two tourism of­fi­cials could ever be, they quickly sprung into ac­tion, and be­fore I knew it, Karen had ar­ranged for me to go on a whale-watch­ing ad­ven­ture the very next morn­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of the area’s Pi­lot whales, up close and per­sonal with Cap­tain Felix on his sail­boat “Lina”.

Af­ter an af­ter­noon of roam­ing the streets of the Las Amer­i­cas beach area of Tener­ife South on my own, I was treated to a fab­u­lous din­ner and ex­tra­or­di­nary Span­ish wine, along with a pre­sen­ta­tion of golf­ing in Spain’s Costa Brava re­gion (just north of Barcelona). It was there that I was able to spend some qual­ity time with Gary Firkins, Manuela Whittaker and Tim Franklin, all rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Land­mark Me­dia, (www.land­mark-me­dia. com) who ar­ranged my trip cour­tesy of my gra­cious hosts at IAGTO.

SPEAK­ING OF WINE - TENER­IFE’S WINE CUL­TURE

Vines first ap­peared in the Ca­nary Is­lands fol­low­ing their con­quest in the 15th cen­tury. The new set­tles brought with them grape va­ri­eties from their home­lands in Spain, Por­tu­gal, Italy and France as well as other ar­eas.

Vine-grow­ing really took off be­tween the 16th and 18th cen­turies when it be­came the prime source of rev­enue for the is­lands. The cel­e­brated sweet Mal­va­sia wines made there were ex­ported to Euro­pean courts and the colonies in Amer­ica and Africa un­der the name of Ca­nary or Sack. Th­ese wines were of­ten traded by mer­chants who made the Ca­nary Is­lands a port of call on their voy­ages.

I had the for­tune to meet Felipe Monje of Bode­gas Monje dur­ing my trav­els around the is­land and was given a won­der­ful tour of his fifth-gen­er­a­tion fam­ily win­ery. Bode­gas Monje sits atop stony-but-rich vol­canic soil 1,640-feet above sea level, with its vine­yard spread­ing out be­low, seem­ingly to the sea. A wine tast­ing fol­lowed that con­vinced me that the lo­cal wines grown in Tener­ife are some of the best that I’ve en­joyed . . . and I’ve en­joyed my share! www.bode­gas­monje.com

For a walk on the wild side, Bode­gas Monje or­ches­trates erotic wine tast­ings dur­ing the year. I’ll let your imag­i­na­tion run free. For more visit http://wine­and­sex.net

MY GUIDE EX­TRAOR­DI­NAIRE CAR­LOS

I awoke the next morn­ing to find my guide, Car­los Miles, wait­ing for me with a fresh cup of cof­fee, anx­ious to get started on an all-day auto trip around the is­land of Tener­ife. Again Pia and Karen had come through like true pros to give this clue­less Amer­i­can a taste of Tener­ife that I would never forget. Car­los, versed in five lan­guages, pro­ceeded to whisk me off on a one day ad­ven­ture like he was one of my life­long trav­el­ing bud­dies.

Best es­ti­mate is that we packed in three days of nor­mal sight­see­ing into one crazy road­trip. I can barely re­mem­ber all the towns and sights that we saw, in­clud­ing driv­ing up to Mt. Teide - which should be sched­uled for a whole day in it­self!

At the risk of em­bar­rass­ing my­self with a hazy re­count­ing of all the many fas­ci­nat­ing nooks and cran­nies of this amaz­ing is­land of Tener­ife that we vis­ited that day, I’ve taken to pla­gia­riz­ing once again from the ex­pertly de­signed and con­tent rich web­site of Tourism Tener­ife (www.webtener­ife. co.uk) to help me de­scribe the many unique re­gions of Tener­ife.

Tourist Re­gions

Tener­ife South

The tourist re­sorts in the south of Tener­ife have the great­est con­cen­tra­tion of ho­tels and apart­ments on the is­land. This area is best known for its many hours of sun­shine and its at­trac­tive and ac­ces­si­ble beaches boast­ing ma host of fa­cil­i­ties. How­ever, it also has picturesque towns and vil­lages, which pre­serve their tra­di­tional char­ac­ter. There are na­ture ar­eas and great scenery where sports and out­door ac­tiv­i­ties are plen­ti­ful.

In Tener­ife South the leisure op­tions are out­stand­ing, both dur­ing the day and at night. There are also a num­ber of qual­ity shop­ping cen­ters sell­ing de­signer goods. Playa de los Cris­tianos, Playa de las Améri­cas, Costa Adeje, Los Gi­gantes, Puerto San­ti­ago, Las Gal­letas and El Mé­dano are some of the key places to visit. From many of th­ese places boat ex­cur­sions depart in search of an­other of this area’s great at­trac­tions: whale-watch­ing among the colonies that in­habit the wa­ters off the south coast.

Isla Baja

In the north-east of Tener­ife is the re­gion known as “Isla Baja,” which is made up of the dis­tricts of Bue­nav­ista del Norte, Garachico, Los Si­los and El Tanque. It is a haven of tran­quil­lity in the heart of the coun­try­side, and an ideal des­ti­na­tion for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. Its towns still pre­serve all their tra­di­tional fla­vor, and the rich­ness of the lo­cal scenery and ar­chi­tec­ture is re­mark­able. This is es­pe­cially true in the streets of Garachico, the old com­mer­cial cap­i­tal of the is­land, which has been awarded the Fine Arts Gold Medal for the high level of preser­va­tion.

In Isla Baja the small coves and sea­wa­ter pools in­vite you to take a swim and the stun­ning Teno Ru­ral Park, an eco­log­i­cal trea­sure, of­fers many op­tions for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties or sim­ply the quiet en­joy­ment of the coun­try­side. The most typ­i­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion is in small, charm­ing ho­tels or “casas ru­rales” (ru­ral houses).

Puerto de la Cruz-Valle de La Oro­tava

Lo­cated in the north of Tener­ife, in a val­ley of ex­tra­or­di­nary nat­u­ral beauty, this pop­u­lar tourist area is made up of the dis­tricts of Puerto de la Cruz, La Oro­tava and Los Reale­jos. Puerto de la Cruz, one of the pi­o­neers of tourism in Spain, has a great range of ho­tels and is a lively, cos­mopoli­tan town, ideal for strolling around and shop­ping. In La Oro­tava and Los Reale­jos the ac­com­mo­da­tion is mainly in “casas ru­rales” (ru­ral houses).

The area also of­fers out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and his­toric build­ings (the his­toric cen­ter of La Oro­tava has been des­ig­nated a Mon­u­ment of Na­tional His­tor­i­cal and Artis­tic In­ter­est). On the coast of th­ese three dis­tricts there are picturesque beaches, as well as the orig­i­nal “Com­plejo Costa Mar­tiánez,” a mag­nif­i­cent com­plex of swim­ming pools and nat­u­ral pools. Tra­di­tional gas­tron­omy and hand­i­crafts are other at­trac­tions of Puerto de la Cruz –The Oro­tava Val­ley.

Santa Cruz-La La­guna

The cities of Santa Cruz de Tener­ife and San Cristóbal de La La­guna, with ge­o­graphic and ur­ban links, make up the most im­por­tant cen­ter of pop­u­la­tion on Tener­ife. Santa Cruz is the cap­i­tal of the is­land. La La­guna, which is a univer­sity city, has been de­clared a World Her­itage Site by UNESCO. Both are equally rec­om­mended for strolling around or shop­ping and they of­fer the chance to ap­pre­ci­ate the is­land’s gas­tron­omy or enjoy some of the best cul­tural events, the best ex­am­ple be­ing the Au­di­to­rium of Tener­ife, next to the port of Santa Cruz.

This is the venue for all kinds of mu­si­cal events, dance and other shows through­out the year. The beaches and swim­ming ar­eas of both dis­tricts and the Anaga Ru­ral Park, an­other of the great nat­u­ral trea­sures of Tener­ife, com­plete this area which is also an ex­cel­lent de­par­ture point from which to visit the rest of the is­land.

Must See! Mt. Teide Na­tional Park

This net­work of na­tional parks in the Ca­nary Is­lands at­tempts to con­serve their most char­ac­ter­is­tic ecosys­tems. Hence, the Mt. Teide Na­tional Park, in the cen­ter of the is­land of Tener­ife, shel­ters the best ex­am­ples of the supra-Mediter­ranean veg­e­ta­tion level. On the other hand, with an av­er­age al­ti­tude of over 2,000 me­tres, the Mt. Teide Na­tional Park of­fers one of the most spec­tac­u­lar ex­am­ples of vul­can­ism in the world and rep­re­sents the best ex­am­ple of alpine vol­canic ecosys­tem in the Ca­nary Is­lands.

From a geo-mor­pho­log­i­cal point of view, the struc­ture of the caldera and the Teide-Pico Viejo strato-vol­cano are among the most spec­tac­u­lar ge­o­log­i­cal mon­u­ments in the world, apart from the wide va­ri­ety of vol­canic cones and domes, lava flows, tors and caves that form a range of colors and forms that in­crease the sci­en­tific and scenic in­ter­est of the area. With re­gard to the enor­mous bi­o­log­i­cal wealth of the area, the out­stand­ing flora in­cludes a large per­cent­age of en­demic species and the in­ver­te­brate fauna a large num­ber of ex­clu­sive species. This Na­tional Park, cre­ated in 1954 in recog­ni­tion of its vol­canic and bi­o­log­i­cal sin­gu­lar­ity, is the largest and the old­est of the Na­tional Parks of the Ca­nary Is­lands, and the fifth largest of the thir­teen Na­tional Parks in the net­work. Apart from its Pe­riph­eral Pro­tec­tion Zone, this nat­u­ral area is sur­rounded by the Corona Fore­stal Na­ture Park, the largest pro­tected nat­u­ral area of the Ca­nary Is­lands. The Teide Na­tional Park Board and the Joint Ca­nary Is­land Na­tional Parks Com­mis­sion held sev­eral meet­ing in 2002 to have the Mt. Teide Na­tional Park de­clared a World Her­itage Site. As a re­sult of this ini­tia­tive the Teide Na­tional Park was in­cluded in the list of World Her­itage in sum­mer 2007.

HO­TEL JARDÍN TROP­I­CAL

I had the for­tune dur­ing my stay in Tener­ife to stay at the Ho­tel Jardín Trop­i­cal, near Playa Bobo and Playa de Las Améri­cas. The ope­nair lobby greeted me to Tener­ife in the most lo­cal of ways, feel­ing the warm nigh­t­ime ocean air, as I was wel­comed by the friendly staff to their lit­tle slice of Heaven in the At­lantic.

While the el­e­gant and well ap­pointed rooms of­fer spec­tac­u­lar views of the ocean and the Trop­i­cal Well­ness pro­gram of­fers all you could want in first-class pam­per­ing, the real stars of this property are the swim­ming pools. Enjoy the re­lax­ing plea­sure of the sea­wa­ter swim­ming pool, offering an area ex­clu­sively for adults to in­sure com­plete re­lax­ation. The same sen­sa­tions are dou­bled in the trop­i­cal heated pool, sur­rounded by the great gar­dens.

The Jardín Trop­i­cal helps golfers in book­ing tee times at all golf cour­ses in Tener­ife, as well as spe­cial pack­ages at Abama Golf.

Enjoy su­perb views to La Gomera from the restau­rant Las Ro­cas or try the buf­fet at Las Mi­mosas, offering one of the best break­fasts on the is­land. The Jardín Trop­i­cal also pro­vides gas­tro­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties such as kitchen work­shops, bar­be­cues, or the re-cre­ation of a “first date”. If you take one tip from this ar­ti­cle, make it Ho­tel Jardín Trop­i­cal! For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.jardin-trop­i­cal.com

Mt. Teide Na­tional Park

Ligh­house at Bue­nav­ista del Norte

San Cristóbal de La La­guna

Swim­ming at Garachico

Road­trip buddy, Car­los

Whale watch­ing

Bode­gas Monje

Lunch over­look­ing spec­tac­u­lar ocean vista

Black vol­canic sand beaches of Playa de la Arena

Valle de Masca

Golf del Sur in Santa Cruz de Tener­ife, Ca­nary Is­lands, Spain

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