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Tenerife: Beauty of an Unexpected Journey

Updated: Jan 17

Your Ultimate Guide to Exploring the Island of Tenerife: Where to spend your time and what to do! (what not to do as well!)


Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, located off the west coast of Africa but part of Spain (colonization).


We spent an action-packed 5 days on Tenerife, 4.5 if you deduct a half day for arriving in the evening of the first day. I'm not a planner, I'm the type to show up and take things as they come or not come. My ability to be satisfied with just sunshine, fresh air, and staring off into the distance is unmatched! However, at times this does leave something to be desired when you realize there's a lot out there to see and do. I was grateful for this trip to have a companion that with 5 minutes, wifi, and google maps can plan an epic adventure! Epic!


If you're like me, and can't plan worth a shit even when you try, I hope you stumble across this, and it allows you to soak in the beauty and culture that is Tenerife.


Day 1: Check-in, dope-ass accommodations

Day 2: Conquering the highest peak in Spain

Day 3: Respite

Day 4: Island Roadtrip, butterflies, and large-old-ass trees

Day 5: Farewell Tour

Google Maps Link To Most of Our Stops


 

Day 1: Check-in


The first day wasn't a full day. We flew into the Tenerife Norte airport in the evening, arriving around 6 PM. Picked up our rental car and headed to the hotel.


A few things about the car. Europeans love to drive manual transmission cars. Not me, it just seems like a whole lot of extra work. Work that I've decided I never wanted to learn how to do. Thus I cannot drive a manual. I say this as a preamble for a warning, automatic transmission cars are a scarce commodity in Europe. If you are renting a car, and you need that car to be automatic, reserve it early and triple-check to ensure they have one for you before you arrive.


Generally speaking, I'm a sucker for an upsell if it's for a reasonable price and adds value, especially if that upsell is by a car rental agency. I was offered an $8/day upgrade to a large, more premium vehicle. At the moment I did pause to consider, but my best judgment prevailed and I declined the offer. Thank goodness for that! I'll tell you more about how important that decision was on days 2 to 4.

After picking up the compact car and driving 50 minutes to the municipality of Costa Adeje, on the southern part of the island we arrived at Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa. This place had me at hello! This isn't a review post, maybe in the future I'll get around to writing one, but this place was DOPE! The service was awesome, the amenities were superior, it was quiet, had gorgeous views, and super friendly and accommodating staff.


View from our room's balcony. PREFERRED CLUB JUNIOR SUITE OCEAN VIEW


After a quick refresh, dropping the bags off, and a couple of glasses of Cava, we headed out for a late dinner. There wasn't a whole lot of time put into the restaurant selection, but we nailed the selection nonetheless, with La Grotta Azzurra.


 

Day 2: Conquered the highest peak in Spain


After finishing a delightful breakfast at the Preferred Club Lounge 💁🏻‍♂️ at Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa we gathered our gear and headed to Teide National Park in Tenerife.


Note: The tour we purchased could have picked us up at the hotel but we opted to drive to the national park ourselves and meet the rest of the group there. This was clutch! We were able to have a nice peaceful morning in the park before all the people showed up. And not just our tour bus people but the swarms of folks that show up to national parks on the weekends. Ya know, the people wearing Patagonia vests, carrying trekking poles, and who snack on vegan granola bars. The tour bus picked us up at the museum and drove to the gondola 🚠 station. I would recommend you do the same.


Link to the tour: Volcano Teide Experience


Once we joined the group we took the gondola to 1,999 m to the upper station which sits at an altitude of 3,555 m. The tour we purchased, had us hike from the upper station at 3,555 m to the peak at 3,718 m.


I don't mean to brag but I have a resting heart rate of 53 bpm, implying that I have a more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness (per Mayo Clinic). However efficient my heart function was, being at that high of an elevation with thin air, was affecting me. Well, my balance was off, and I am usually pretty sure-footed. So it was either the elevation throwing off my balance or it was the anxiety of being 3,718 m high without any fuc*ing guardrails! When I got back I saw my doctor and therapist 😉.






 

Day 2: Part Two


Once we took the gondola back down we were able to go off on our own since we had driven ourselves to the park. Had we remained with the group we would have gone straight back to the hotel. Also note, our bus broke down and the rest of the tour had to wait for a replacement bus. We wouldn't have known that beforehand but it still favored us.


Once we made our way back down from the peak to the rest of the national park, we realized how lucky we were to have gotten there early. The park was full. Again with Patagonia-wearing, trekking pole-carrying, vegan granola-eaters. Everyone is pretty much shoulder to shoulder trying to get their best gram pictures off (us included).


Remember when I said the value of the compact car was going to come up in the future, that moment is now. After leaving Mt. Teide, we drove through the national park, gorgeous drive btw, and there are plenty of parking areas to pull off and explore or take pictures, and I would strongly encourage you to do so. We made our way down one mountain and unbeknownst to me, cuz I'm not a planner, we were about to drive up another mountain.


Except this mountain wasn't as high but the roads were ridiculously more narrow, but life's an adventure, right?! Making the left turn onto TF-436 toward Masca, I started to realize how grateful I was that I didn't accept the $8 upgrade to a fuller-size vehicle. To illustrate the point I took a screenshot of the road from google maps, please see below, also note this is one of the wider parts of the road!



We enjoyed the adventure of navigating the tricky road, for the most part, and pulling over where we could to savor the view and get more gram pics. If have more time on the island, I would recommend taking this drive earlier in the day, parking is severely limited, and view such gorgeous views you'll want to take your time. My guess is the earlier in the day you get there you would encounter less traffic and thus more parking and fewer people getting in your pictures (remember we hate people). Nonetheless, busy or not, I would definitely recommend the drive if you are comfortable driving on narrow, oh so very narrow, roads.


Location: 28.30538° N, 16.83989° W




Location: 28.30407° N, 16.84067° W


 

Day 2: Part Three (how did I have the stamina for all this!?)


To cap off a lovely day we had a fancy date night at Restaurant Donaire. I was impressed with this place from the moment we walked in. This was an excellent surprise!


The thing about tasting menus that gets me is how much flavor they can compact into a few bites. The other thing that always gets me about them is how the wine sneaks up on you by the end of the menu!


Note: The pictures keep getting worse because the wine kept tasting better and better! Also, missed a few courses, oopsie!




 

Day 3: Respite 🙌 🙏


Listen, I enjoy activities as much as the next person. I also happen to really enjoy having no plans, wandering around aimlessly, and just seeing where a day takes me. After a busy travel day immediately followed by an adventurous second day, it was time to relax. And so we did, with so much delight!


We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Dreams Jardin Tropical, our Preferred Club Lounge 💁🏻‍♂️, taking our time to enjoy the delicious food, sunshine, fresh air, and their gardens.




Look at that Guava 😍




We strolled through Costa Adeje, mostly strolling along the coastline where all the restaurants and shops are. I want to call it a boardwalk, but definitely not the type of "boardwalk" that I've been to before. It feels like I should be calling it a promenade. Yes, I am right! We strolled along the promenade!


Promenade: a paved public walk, typically one along a waterfront at a resort.



We stopped into Monkey Beach Club, which was dope, to take a respite from our respite. Ordered 2 Barraquito, and stayed for the view, breeze, atmosphere, and company!⁠ ⁠ A Barraquito is the most famous coffee in Tenerife: 1 tbsp. condensed milk, 1 espresso coffee, frothed milk, Licor 43, and lemon zest ⬇️.



Location: Monkey Beach Club


Lunch was had at Restaurante El Cordero which was recommended by a few locals.


If you rented a car definitely drive there, it's pretty far out of the way but worth the experience. Or, if you didn't rent a car and still want to go, plan your taxi service accordingly. We didn't drive there, I'll take full responsibility for that decision. When leaving Restaurante El Cordero it proved to be rather challenging to hail a taxi. I think we waited 40 minutes 😤, some of that time standing in the middle of the road staring down any car that might look like a taxi. Learn for us, and make better decisions.




 

Day 4: No rest for the weary


The saddest moment of the journey, checking out of the Dreams Jadin Tropical, it's was with heavy hearts that we did so, but our travels for the day were pulling us in a different direction. We mostly struggled with the thought that we were no longer going to be able to enjoy the lavish breakfast spread every morning. Heavy, heavy hearts.


With that, we began a road trip up the east coast of Tenerife stopping at a few notable sites to breathe it all in.


Stops as follows:

Location: 28.24892° N, 16.83827° W, near Santiago del Teide - Acantilados de los Gigantes



Location: 28.36524° N, 16.72051° W near Icod de los Vinos


Location: 28.36719° N, 16.72154° W - from the Plaza Andrés de Lorenzo Cáceres

Location: Parque del Drago


Location: Mariposario del Drago (Drago Butterfly Garden)

Website: Mariposario del Drago


Day 4 is in chronological order, all this before LUNCH!!! We are out here sightseeing, folks!



Yes, I did a very unspanish thing and had a coffee with my meal, instead of waiting to have it with dessert, don't @ me!


After lunch at Tierra De Campos we drove to Puerto de la Cruze. It was lovely and cute but it was getting late in the day and our energy reserves for picture-taking were depleted!


I did take this pic of the receipt for the two Barraquito coffees we ordered to illustrate how inexpensive they were. Three euros with coffees with booze!

Location: El Limon - def recommend this place, very cutesy


We wrapped day 4 by making our way to the capital city of Tenerife, Santa Cruz. We stayed at Hotel Taburiente, I would give it a C+, perhaps a B, depending on how we are grading the hotel. It was clean but underwhelmed with service and breakfast.


Dinner was at Mundo Iberico, if you love pork, this is pork heaven. The wine was delicious as well.

Website: Mundo Iberico

Instagram: Mundo Iberico

 

Day 5: Farewell Tour


Checking out of the Hotel Taburiente wasn't as devastating as checking out of the Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa.


Actually, let me walk that back, they were very kind and gracious enough to grant us an extended check-out which allowed us to go to the Anaga Rural Park and then come back and checkout. (They still need to step up their breakfast game)


After breakfast drove to Anaga Rural Park and explored the park. See below ⬇️

Locatio: Mirador de Jardina



Location: Anaga Rural Park

Website: Anaga Rural Park


Our last stop before catching our flight was a quick walk-through of La Lagune (which is hella fun to say). It's a colorful and vibrant part of the island with gorgeous buildings and architecture.


Location: