The original plan was supposed to be Libya in November. But due to world events and the difficulty of obtaining visas in time, I didn’t want to try to push my luck that I had enjoyed 16 times over with Syria the month prior. So I moved Libya in April and had to come up with a replacement trip: I never give up.
While playing pickleball with 2 of the potential travelers to Libya, we brainstormed ideas of alternative travel destinations for the same dates. Then one of the travelers and prior 3-time monsooner, either Paul or Kimmy, mentioned something something about a “canary in the coal mine” and there was my a-ha moment: Let’s go to the Canary Islands. Flights were cheap, weather was good, and my two travelers who had intended to join me to Libya were both down to join. Due to how cheap it was at $400-$500 roundtrip, I decided to go economy and begin with Tenerife, aka “the island of eternal spring.”
I was supposed to take the 7pm Binter Canarias inter-island 30 minute hopper flight from Gran Canaria, but after arriving right on time at 5pm from the SN3799 Brussels Airlines flight from Brussels, I asked the information desk if I could bump up my flight an hour earlier to the 6pm flight.
Not even seconds went by before they issued me a free ticket change to the flight. However, the flight ended up being delayed to nearly 7pm anyway, where I felt we spent more time on the runway than in the air.
At 7:45pm I was picked up by the rest of the crew that had arrived earlier, then driving into the capital city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife to settle into our AirBnb at Niko’s Rooms.
We then freshened up and headed out for a walk around the city center of Santa Cruz.
We arrived just in time for 9pm dinner reservations at Etéreo by Pedro Nel. Even the host from and owner of our lodgings, Marta, stopped by to say hi and take a photo of us:
And we dove right in for their wine and 7 year dry-aged Galician steak:
After a long dinner, we headed to Plaza España for shisha and drinks afterwards at La Capital, after which we then we retired to bed at 2:30am and I surprised myself with not being able to fall asleep; it one of the least amount of sleep in quite awhile.
The next morning “waking up” on the strugglebus, I somehow managed to have enough in me to start with a walk around the Santa Cruz center. I chugged some espressos at the appropriately named Café y Té next door and began with the Baroque style Parish of St. Francisco de Asís, the second most important church in Santa Cruz (after the Church of the Conception), built in 1680 and notable for the large number of artworks inside.
Our host Marta who owns Niko’s Rooms, is friends with the priest here and claims that he will be the next Pope. You heard it here first, folks.
Parish of St. Francisco de Asís also has a side chapel you might miss:
From the Parish we strolled around Plaza de España, the city’s largest square that was built in 1929 and home to an artificial lake.
Plaza España by night:
Within the plaza you can visit the underground remains of the 1500s era Castilla de San Cristobal. One of its cannons is said to have injured the legendary British officer Horatio Nelson.
We then walked south a few minutes to visit the city’s premier church, the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción.
Then circling back uptown, we stopped in at Plaza de la Candelaria where there is free entry to a 18th century house that has been converted to a tourist information office
We then woke up Paul and got into our car to begin our road trip around Tenerife.
Don’t miss Santa Cruz’s most photographed and futuristic further south on your way out or into the city: the curvy landmark of Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín, a seafront arts complex & auditorium.
Getting on the main highway we then drove an hour and a half inland and upwards to reach the Teide cable car. The twisty, curvy mountain roads are easy to navigate in any car, so don’t get intimated and enjoy the views:
. . . especially at Mirador de Chipeque:
Once you reach the cable car you can buy tickets there or beforehand online for €40 for a roundtrip ticket.
Although we arrived exactly on time at 1:48pm for a 1:50pm time slot, the guy at the front still made an effort to point out a part on the ticket where it stated “please arrive 20 minutes before.” He then let us on the 2:10pm car “to be nice” as he would say.
So if you want to avoid the passive-aggressiveness, make sure you arrive 20 minutes before whatever is printed on your ticket.
The cable car ride takes about 8-10 minutes to reach the top where we then were recommended by staff and signs everywhere to not take longer an hour for a short hike to explore before having to return to the cable car.
The rocky hike might seem unsteady at first but it manages to be a doable 20 minute short climb to the other side of the peak.
Spritely Spanish (we, and maybe a handful of other Americans and Russians in the single digits, seemed to be the only tourists here today) families and folks of all ages were participating on the hike despite the 3000m+ elevation above sea level, thinner oxygen, and crowds getting in the way.
Do it for the hike and not for any “views” on the other end:
Returning back to the car park at 3:30pm for a lunch at the cafeteria by the cable car entrance, Paul bravely took on extremely windy mountain roads around the volcano . . .
. . . for a visit to Masca, a photogenic mountain village 650m high in the Macizo de Teno mountains and originally a Guanche settlement before Tenerife was conquered by the Spanish in 1496.
After sunset, we drove down to sea level for Los Gigantes, a resort town on the west coast facing 500-800m giant rock formations that come out directly from the sea.
Then we took the long drive back, stopping for dinner midway at Bahía Beach Club in the town of Palm Mar.
The next morning after I thankfully caught up on a full night of sleep, we woke up at 8am and dropped off Kimmy back at the TFS airport for her 10:55am flight to Amsterdam. Paul and I then dropped off Ainsley and Sabrina 20 minutes later at Costa Adeje for optional whale watching on a catamaran while we stayed back to hang out at a café restaurant by the marina.
When Ainsley and Sabrina returned and rejoined us at the café, we set back out north, driving by La Montaña Roja:
After 25 minutes on the highway, we reached the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, a pilgrimage site filled with murals, and was designated a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. We arrived right on time as it opened at 3:00pm in the afternoon.
The surrounding coastal town is also very picturesque:
With a little extra time before sunset, we then picked up some chocolates at Ainsley’s request at local shop Lava, and headed onwards for a walk by Tenerife’s first and oldest city at San Cristóbal de La Laguna, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Don’t miss its neoclassical cathedral that was completed in 1915. Unlike the other churches we’ve visited, this one will set you back 6 euros per person to enter.
Then we drove another 30 minutes north for sunset at Mirador Pico del Inglés:
The sunset here might give the one at Masca a run for its money:
Center the volcano in your shot and you might have me believe I was looking at Mount Fuji.
Don’t leave just after sunset; stick around a little longer to see the sky light on fire.
And with that, it was time to head back down and say goodbye to Tenerife.
One last Canarian dinner in Tenerife at Bodeguita Canaria next to where we were staying, where our host Marta once again popped by in person to take a photo of us and offer her garage for us to use for our rental car:
The next morning we plan to drop off our rental and bounce out on our 10:45am flight onwards to Gran Canaria.
- At time of posting in Tenerife, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 66% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: It's called "The Island of Eternal Spring" for a reason