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 and the drive only takes around half an hour.
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 Bodegón 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 winding LP-209 west from Fuencaliente, which then becomes the LP-207 before heading down past the Princess resort complex to the very southern tip of the island (a birdwatchers paradise). Located here is the Playa del Faro and Salinas de Fuencaliente, some 3.5 hectares 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 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 Volcán San Antonio past Volcán Teneguía as the lighthouse marks the end of the trek down from the visitor centre. Buses from Fuencaliente (€2.40, 30 minutes) run to the lighthouse at a quarter past the hour.