Know Your South-Coast Beaches
Tenerife's south-coast beaches come complete with mojito-mixing beach bars and chic restaurants; for something more low key, however, head to the beaches at the nearby towns of Las Galletas and El Médano.
- Playa de Los Cristianos This 1km-long taupe-coloured sandy stretch is the main beach in town and very family friendly, with a lifeguard, rows of sunbeds, volleyball net, bars, restaurants and ice-cream kiosks.
- Playa de las Vistas A sublime 1.5km-long beach with fine golden sand (imported from the Sahara Desert!), linking Los Cristianos with Playa de las Américas. The beach is backed by bars and restaurants and protected by breakwaters, so it's perfect for swimming.
- Playa de Troya One of several beaches that merge seamlessly into each other in central Playa, with soft dark sand and excellent facilities.
- Playa del Duque Appropriately named, the 600m-long 'Duke’s beach' is an appealing golden sandy stretch backed by jaunty striped changing huts, chic cafes and restaurants.
- Playa de la Enramada A dark volcanic beach with a great beach bar; a popular launch spot for hang-gliding.
Playa de Los Cristianos’ grand swathe of pale golden sand is flanked to the east by a harbour that's home to fishing boats, private yachts and commercial boats offering everything from boat rides to big-game-fishing trips. Waters here drop to dramatic depths and the combination of caves, a temperate climate and diverse ocean life create ideal conditions for diving. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are also popular, together with the most obvious – a gentle paddle in the sea.
Consider Los Cristianos for your first diving experience. Not only are the waters an agreeable temperature, but the coast is sheltered from the waves and winds that can blast the northern resorts. There are no coral reefs, but you can expect to see barracuda, stingrays and morays among the larger sea life, and shoals of triggerfish and rainbow wrasse among the smaller fry. Snorkelling is another popular option.
Most people find that the dolphin- and whale-watching trips are worth the euros (vegetarians may get peckish though; most include a meat-only barbecue), as you are virtually guaranteed to spot the mammals. A glass-bottom boat can add to the experience. There are several tour-company kiosks located in the harbour.
OK, it's not strictly a sport, but consider cruising the waters between Tenerife and La Gomera in a ferry, enjoying the view from the deck and leaving the stunning outline of El Teide behind you. You can reach here in less than an hour. La Gomera is also the island that has best preserved its culture, so presenting an interesting contrast to Tenerife’s southern resorts.
Nearby: El Médano
Located 21km east of Los Cristianos and not yet squashed by steamroller development, El Médano is a world-class spot for windsurfers and kitesurfers, and their sails speckle the horizon like exotic butterfly wings. Water-sports companies and rental outfits are mainly located near the beach, all 2km of it – the longest in Tenerife.
- Trying out a 'try dive'
- Dolphin- and whale-watching
- Visiting El Médano
- For more water-sports ideas, check out the flyers at the tourist office, ask for recommendations and visit www.webtenerife.com.
- Surfers will find the best waves between February and March; the calmest waters for scuba divers are in July and August.
- Look out for red flags indicating that conditions are unsafe for swimming.
Take a Break
The most obvious cuisine in Los Cristianos is seafood, and one of the best places to find the flapping freshest is at the kiosks on the harbour.
Alternatively, excellent El Cine offers culinary symphonies of fishy fare.
Bus Bus 111 links Santa Cruz with Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje. Regular buses run between the main resort areas.
Into the big blue.