Worth a Trip: Scenic Drive: The Southwestern Coast

The road up the west coast from the bottom tip of the island is full of open curves that swoop past green hills dotted with cacti and low shrubs. The highway runs along a ridge, leaving the glittering ocean a blue haze to the left. Other than the view, there’s not much here, unless you count the small bar at the mirador 6km out of Fuencaliente in the tiny town of El Charco, but even so it all makes for a great detour from either Fuencaliente or even Puerto Naos.

Keep heading north and you’ll travel through a series of tiny, almost uninhabited villages. Stop in San Nicolás for a while (it’s 1km past the village of Jedey) to eat at Bodegon Tamanca, a very popular and atmospheric restaurant located in a huge natural cave.

Worth a Trip: Scenic Drive: To the End of the Island

If you’re in the mood for some scenic driving, and possibly some scenic swimming, take the LP-207 highway far past the Princess resort complex to the very southern tip of the island and a birdwatchers paradise. Located here are the Playas del Faro (Lighthouse Beach) and Las Salinas, some 35,000 sq metres of salt flats; the salt produced here, under the brand name, Teneguia, is sold across the island. The nearby Volcán Teneguía almost destroyed the lighthouse during its eruption and formation in 1971.

On the coast, the black-lava rock and crystal-blue ocean are perfect contrasts to one another, but if you do choose to swim off one of the beaches here, be wary of heavy undertows and dangerous dumping waves. Return by following the LP-207 highway north to complete the loop, taking you back to Fuencaliente.

If you've spent too long behind the wheel, you can also hike from here up to the Volcán San Antonio past the Volcán Teneguía as the lighthouse marks the end of the trek down from the visitor centre. Buses from Fuencaliente (€2.40, thirty minutes) run to the lighthouse at a quarter past the hour.