TENERIFE: Life's always sunny on the beautiful island of Tenerife
So get the bags packed and settle in for the second show, which looks at the beautiful island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Holidaymakers have always been drawn to the balmy year round climate and the beautiful beaches but visitors are finding there is so much more on offer than sun and sand.
Golfers are spoilt for choice with competitive prices and immaculate courses that offer the perfect chance to relax and work on the handicap. Nature and walking lovers will love the Teide National Park, which is home to beautiful flowers exclusive to the Canaries and stunning old volcanic structures. For the more adventurous traveller there is fantastic hiking and mountain biking, amongst other outdoor activities, in the Rural Parks of Anaga and Teno. For those that are looking for a more unique experience, try the city of La Laguna, the old capital of Tenerife, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
No holiday would be complete without some quality food and first class entertainment and Tenerife has both in spades. For foodies, there are delights like appetizing goat stews, artesian style sweets made by the Clara and Catalina nuns and plenty of other local products that are usually accompanied by rich 'mojo' sauces with coriander or red chilli pepper to go with 'papas arrugadas' â wrinkled salty potatoes. Fancy a little tipple? Then try the Malvasia wine, adored by Shakespeare and only available in Tenerife. Festivals and partying are second nature to the natives. Check out the spectacular carnival in Santa Cruz, which culminates with the burial of large paper maiche model of a sardine.
What are you waiting for?
Clemencia Wiese, Travel Specialist from the Tenerife Tourism Corporation joined Keith Betton online on Thursday 25th January.
H: Host, Keith Betton
C: Clemencia Wiese
H: Hello and welcome to Holiday 07, my name’s Keith Betton and I’m here for the next 30 minutes to talk with you about holiday destinations. This is the only program on the internet where you can email in your questions live and we’ll answer them here on the show. And in today’s program we’re going to be looking at the island of Tenerife, the best known of the Canary Islands, part of Spain and an amazing place for British holidaymakers to go to and joining me in the studio to discuss Tenerife is Clemencia Wiese, we say welcome Clemencia, thanks very much for coming in today
C: Well thank you for having me
H: You’ve been, probably hundreds of times I guess to Tenerife?
C: Absolutely, yes
H: It’s an island of two stories though isn’t it, in the south is very busy and active, and that’s probably what most people know about Tenerife, whereas the north really is quite different isn’t it?
C: It is, if you trace the development of tourism then you would understand the differences, really tourism stated in the north, it started quite a long time ago and people went there primarily because of the good weather, to recuperate from bronchial and other illnesses, and then I would say in the last 50 years only, and certainly only in the last 25 years there’s been massive developments in the south, which was really farming territory –
C: So most of the people of Tenerife they live in the north and they used to have their farms in the south, but now they have their apartments in the south and the hotels and so on, and this rather large infrastructure to accommodate tourists, but it’s two different worlds
H: Well the first time I went to Tenerife was about 12 years ago, been back a few times recently, I’ve noticed it’s been changing over time, and I think if you went 12 years ago you would in the south perhaps of had the idea of lots of nightclubs, Veronica’s perhaps the best known nightclub of all down there, very much a nightlife destination, but now it seems that that southern area has actually moved upmarket, I mean the hotels are much better quality now aren’t they?
C: Oh yes, in the last 7 or 8 years most of the hotels that have been built are 4 and 5 star, and I think this is very important because the British traveller also has wanted more and more upmarket accommodation and we as an island really have that to offer, and our statistics show clearly that the use of 5 star hotels by the British is gone up double digit each year, one year we have a 25% growth, so it’s really we’re catering to what the British market wants
H: That’s a huge growth isn’t it really?
C: Yes yes
H: Well I mean the great thing about this program is you can email in your questions, so do send us in your questions as we are answering them, the first question actually has come in from Josephina, she wants to know, she says “I’ve not been to Tenerife since I was 20, I’m now somewhere in my late 30s – has it changed much, what is new, what are the exciting places that are there now?”
C: Well it depends what she did when she was there, you know 10 years ago but most people that go to Tenerife they stay in the south, they don’t travel even to the centre, I mean 50% of the island of Tenerife is preserved line territory, in particular Teide which is the Tenerife national park which is one of the largest in Spain, with the highest mountain in Spain which is absolutely magnificent each time you see it, it’s different, the light changes and there’s all sorts of activities you can do in it, all outdoors activities
H: One thing that’s happened I believe is this new park that’s opening later this year, is it called the one that’s based on themes from Thailand – Siam park is that right?
C: Siam park, now if you, this is a theme park, it’s absolutely incredible because it’s all built in Thai style, in fact the architect and the houses are all brought from Thailand, built in teak wood with Thai roofs and so on, but it is a water theme park with incredible hair-raising and adrenalin-rushing experiences, you drop from –
H: I read somewhere you go through some sort of tunnel and you come shooting out the end and you’re surrounded by crocodiles, but they’re not actually with you they’re behind some glass
C: Yes but you don’t –
H: You don’t realise that at first unless you know?
C: Yes it’s all about adrenalin
H: And also that amazing wave machine where they do, is it 3 metre high waves –
C: 3 metre high
H: So you can actually learn to surf –
C: Yes you can
H: In Tenerife without going anywhere near the sea?
C: Yes and within all this there is actually like an island that you can rent out with beautiful heights so you can have a very quite time too and it’s a real quality design. These are the same people that have Laurel Park in the north which is an award winning international parrot and bird sanctuary and theme park which now of course has whales and has penguins and so on
H: Killer whales now as well
H: Now what about wildlife, we’re talking about wildlife in captivity there, but –
H: You mentioned Taide, I think about half of Tenerife is actually national park –
H: What kind of outdoor activities can you have to get close to nature?
C: Well you obviously the most common one is walking, you can have really rugged walking like mountain walking or you can have soft walking. We have in the web about 25 different walks that are graded, because of course the island’s very mountainous so you have to be very sure that before you go on a walk you are fit enough to take that particular walk. The other thing that people don’t realize is that we have whales, between us and the next island there is a colony of whales that live there and you can go out, you can see them, I’ve never been out to look at them and not seen them, and they’re very friendly, they just come close to your boat and so on –
H: And the dolphins as well
C: The dolphins
H: Are they bottlenose dolphins?
C: Yes, yes
H: This is the bit between the south of the island and also La Gomera the next island
C: La Gomera, yes which is another beautiful island, yes
H: Ok, and cycling holidays you can do presumably caving, pot holing if you’re experienced?
C: You can do rock climbing, pot holding, cycling, walking, and obviously mountaineering in the sense that you go up to Teide to a bridge which is about 2000 metre, 2200, but then you have another 1500 metres that you can walk up
H: Takes about 4 hours I think doesn’t it in total
C: If you’re good!
H: If you’re good at it, I remember Frank Bruno actually went there and did his practising when he was fighting
H: Because he actually got fit doing that. Or you can take the cable car can’t you?
C: You can take the cable car and there’s a very nice observation tower and so on, but if you want to walk to the very top of the Teide you have to have a permit
C: And it is restricted and only a few people are allowed each day
H: Ok. Now playing golf is obviously a big thing in Tenerife
C: Very big
H: I think you’ve got 9 golf courses
C: Golf courses
H: We’ve got a question coming in now here from Kevin actually, he says “I’m planning a boy’s golfing holiday and usually go to the southern coast of Spain but I’ve heard there’s a great new course on Tenerife, can’t remember the name, there’s – is it the only one or are there more there?”
C: There’s 9 of them
H: 9 right
C: Yes and in the south, the majority are in the south, so you can have a great variety of different experiences. They’re great. The thing with golfing in Tenerife is that it’s year round, we don’t have the very hot summers so in the summer we do have a longer day but there’s always a breeze. It never gets above sort of 25 / 28
H: So 25 in the summer and maybe about 20 in the winter
C: 20 in the winter, yes
H: So it’s almost like having spring all year round
C: All year round yes and if it gets too hot in the south which we sometimes have winds that come from the desert, then you just go to the north and play on one of the golf courses in the north
H: And the PGA Ladies’ championship quite often comes to Tenerife doesn’t it?
C: Yes the women’s PGA has been played there for 4 years and it’s being played there this year in April yes
H: Ok good, so golfing is obviously a big thing to do. Now we talked about wildlife and nature, that northern side of the island has got the laurel forests I mean can you just walk through without any sort of restriction –
H: Or do you really have to keep to the paths that you’ve mentioned already?
C: You have to keep to the paths but you can go on your own, these are the Anaga mountains, which geologically are very very old mountains, very rugged, and the wind comes in and brings clouds into the mountains so sometimes it’s very eerie, you’re walking and all of the sudden it’s clouds, so you do have to be careful, it’s best to go with a guide that knows but you can go on your own but certainly you have to stay in the pathways
C: What’s so unusual is there’s this laurel forest but in addition there’s just enormous ferns, so you you’re walking –
H: And enormous flowers too
H: I mean are these found naturally in the –
C: They would be yes but of course they’re grown commercially as well, we export the flowers –
H: So this is what the –
C: Bird of paradise
H: The bird of paradise flower
H: Ok superb. And wildlife generally, I mean there are quite a few species I think which are unique to Tenerife –
H: Because it’s an island and it’s separated from everywhere else
C: You have birds of course, and it’s very rich in bird life and fishes and it’s good for diving. The diving is deep water diving and a lot of it is big fish diving, I’m not a diver myself but I’m told you see really big fish in abundance which is very difficult to see. Lots of schools of colourful fishes as well, but it’s deep water diving
C: And lava, you follow lava rocks down which is quite exciting
H: Ok. Now looking at culture in Tenerife, you’ve got a lot of festivals; the biggest one of course is the carnival, that’s coming up pretty soon now I’d imagine in February?
C: Yes in February. In fact it goes on for about 20 days because you know there’s competitions and there’s the children’s carnival and so on, but the real highlight is around the 20th I would say, 18th, 20th to the 25th when it really gets going. Now the carnival in Tenerife is very much a local thing, it’s for the locals, the local put together their comparsis as they call them, their dancing groups and their chariots that they dress up, but the tourists are able to join in, they can join in as they want, but it isn’t something arranged for people to come and see, it’s just a natural time of the year when people let loose and have a good time
H: And you’ve got them all over the island so almost every other month there must be some sort of activity going on, and you can find out presumably about this from the internet –
H: There are websites presumably –
H: With the information?
C: Yes. Carnival is very unique in that it’s big and that’s in February, then all of the fiestas and the local saints days of all the villages, they start say in about June, ok and they go through the whole summer. We have some really magnificent ones
H: And the great thing of course is it’s almost like having Rio but not quite on your doorstep, but it only takes 4 hours to fly from Britain to –
C: Absolutely, for Carnival –
H: To Tenerife
C: And you’re in it you know, it’s not something you go look at, it’s something you can get dressed up and join and stay up and you will be invited to participate, no doubt! So it’s not a spectators type of carnival
H: Well the whole countryside of Tenerife does seem pretty nice, the Orotava valley is very famous, I mean what’s the main reason for going there?
C: Well Orotava valley initially is sort of the breadbasket of Tenerife, very very fertile, it has everything from bananas to grapes as you go up the mountain the vegetation changes. But now of course it’s more urban, it is where the locals live, there’s lovely farms, one very new thing in Tenerife let’s say in the last 10 years going back to your caller who hadn’t been there in 10 years is the rural tourism, a lot of these rural, big houses and farmhouses have been turned into very very nice hotels, small hotels –
C: Some of them very luxurious, some of them very simple, most of them absolutely good value. Now in our website we have a special section on that, on rural tourism, on the places you can go and stay. Usually you will have more contact with the locals because if it’s a local farm and they have a house with two or three rooms, then you will come in, they’ll offer you things and so on
H: Ok well let’s have a look at –
C: It’s wonderful
H: We’ve been looking at some still footage, some photographs of Tenerife –
H: As we’ve been talking and particularly the carnival and things like that. Let’s have a look at some video footage of Tenerife so you can see all the other activities you can take part in the island
H: Well plenty there to set your imagination going and we’re talking today about Tenerife one of the Canary islands, one of the most amazing places for holidaymakers, in fact one of the most popular places for winter holidays, and indeed in summer because it has an all-year round temperature of between 20 and 25 degrees. So Clemencia, tell me, looking at all the various things going on, we’ve got a question now from Darren, he wants to know “this summer will be my first trip with my family for about 3 years or so. Does Tenerife have something to offer the entire family, so adults and kids?”
C: Yes I think absolutely yes because first of all there’s theme parks, there’s the beach, there’s the pools, there’s hiking, there’s the mountains, but most importantly our hoteliers and our hotels are very good, and people are well taken care of. I think one of the most striking statistics is about 77% of the British visitors to Tenerife return, that says something in its own, you know –
H: So how many people go every year?
C: Close to 2 million
H: That’s a huge number isn’t it really?
C: Yes yes
H: That’s like a fairly major city in Britain
C: And 77% come back
H: Moving out every week just to go there
C: Yes yes, well that’s why we have so many flights now and it really is easier and easier to get to Tenerife, but I think going back to the family, children are well looked after, the Spaniards love young people, there’s lots to do if you have teenagers, there’s places for them to go, so absolutely, good place to go
H: Now are you good at sort of helping people with their marriages because we have a question here, David he says “I’d like to take my wife for our 5th wedding anniversary somewhere special. Is there a quiet, romantic part of Tenerife?” Any personal recommendations there?
C: Yes there is, there’s Garachico in the north, is a small village, it’s a fishing village in fact in September they have this wonderful fiesta there but there’s a couple of very small beautiful hotels in Garachico, and it’s a village, at night everything quietens down and you walk down the streets and you hear your own footsteps, it’s a colonial village, yet you’re right next to the mountains, you can walk right from your hotels in the village and do some lovely non-strenuous walks and it is very very romantic. Another very romantic thing to do in Tenerife is stargazing, because you’re so in the middle of the Atlantic there’s no light pollution and once you go up to the Teide you’re above the cloud level usually, so consequently it’s very very clear, and in fact one of the largest observatories is up there
H: Well now don’t tell me too much because I just happened to see out of the corner of my eye Maureen has just emailed in, she says “my husband doesn’t like beach holidays but he’s mentioned Tenerife before because he’s into astronomy, so what can he see?” I’m not going to ask you to tell us about the stars but Mount Teide is the place to go -
H: How do you book a tour like that, presumably you can pre-book it?
C: You can pre-book it but there is a Parador, it’s a very beautiful small, modern Parador in the middle of the park and if you stay there or you stay there late, every evening, every Friday evening they have somebody who comes and takes you stargazing, so you just need to call the Parador and say I would like to do this on Friday. If you trying to mix romance with stargazing definitely stay at the Parado, it’s wonderful
H: Superb. Now these Paradors, great for food and wine they’re as well –
C: Yes, absolutely
H: Which is a very unique way of linking into the fact that you happen to have a bottle of wine I’ve noticed –
C: I’ve got my goodies – ta da!
H: So tell me, obviously well-known for the wine, but the really thing that annoys me about Tenerife wine is it’s superb but you really can’t find it in the shops in Britain, you have to go to Tenerife, I mean do they just keep it to themselves, don’t they let anybody else have their wine?
C: WE keep it for ourselves and our visitors. I mean in old times our wine is very old, in fact it was imported into Britain you know for a long long time, Canary Wharf is Canary Wharf because that’s where the ships from the Canaries with the vegetables, with the tomatoes and with the wine came in, so it’s been drunk here, Shakespeare speaks about it in his works, but today it’s such a competitive market so we grow excellent wine, we’ve actually won some awards, but it’s kept on the island and yes you have to come to Tenerife, it’s worth the trip!
H: Well Kim has emailed in, she says what are the traditional food dishes from Tenerife, when you stay in the south you actually never see traditional food menus but you know she’d like to try some next time she goes so does she have to go to the north or can she find other places?
C: No no no, in the south there’s lots of places that serve Canarian food, and also if you’re a little adventuresome, just a little, and you get a car, you take taxis right outside the hotel areas, there will be villages where you will get normal restaurants where people go to and eat fantastic food, just fantastic food. I suppose the most unique dish is the potatoes –
H: I’ve had this, is this the very salty potatoes –
H: The little tiny ones –
C: They’re old potatoes but they’re tiny and they came from South America because of course in the old days the Canary
H: Oh I can see them now, they look really good actually
C: Yes, yes
H: And you dip them in this kind of what’s the sauce you put them in with?/
C: We have two types mojo, red mojo which is with peppers, not spicy peppers just with red peppers and green mojo which is done with coriander and it’s really, I have the recipe, it’s in the website if you want it
C: So it’s easy to do and it’s delicious and usually you have the papas arrugadas, with fish –
H: Give us the website address because I know people are going to want to know that
H: webtenerife.com ok, sorry I interrupted you then
C: Tenerife with an “e” at the end, Tenerife
H: Ok well the link is actually going to be on the page so you can have a look at that whenever you want. Don’t look now because we’re still talking. What I’d now like to ask you is Maria, she says “I’m an amateur chef. Food obviously plays a big role wherever I go on holiday. What is the cuisine like” well we know that but can you recommend restaurants, have you got any personal favourites?
C: Yes I’m very keen on the capital city which is Santa Cruz, I go there quite often so I love it, and Santa Cruz is a very Spanish city with sort of a very tropical part to it, the streets are filled with tropical flowers and whilst you have the pasteos they’re all with tropical trees, and very very slow going and beautiful and there’s actually a route la vino, which is a route that you can take through the old town of Santa Cruz, with Tascas, with little places where you can go and eat their specialities, and the best time to go for really special food is sort of the fall, our fall
H: But any particular restaurant that you’re going to name as being better, your personal favourite?
C: Well I would say it’s La Casta la terrasita
C: And also some of the hotels have fantastic food
H: You’ve got about, is it 8 or 9 hotels in Santa Cruz?
C: In Santa Cruz, yes.
H: I mean it is, as you say, the capital of –
C: Yes, yes
H: Tenerife, and I mean the odd thing about Tenerife I always think is the way that it is actually a volcanic island and you’ve had to import the sand, and I’ve been to that beach, I forget the name of it now –
H: Just to the west I think –
C: Yes, yes
H: And it’s something like a kilometer long but all the sand came from the Sahara
H: So do they have to go out and get more sand every week?
C: No no it’s a fairly protected place so we don’t have to go every week and get some more sand, it’s beautiful, it’s been planted also so that they’re, the sand stays there, there’s palm trees, there’s restaurants, it’s just lovely
H: So Santa Cruz might be a good place for a sort of city break, a short break go for a couple –
H: Well three days maybe
C: And there are flights, 2 airports in Tenerife, there’s the north and the south, there’s flights to the north so you can, if you fly into the north airport you can explore Santa Cruz and the whole area of the north. There’s another second city Colla La Runa which is the old capital which is absolutely beautiful, with these great big old colonial homes and convents that have been turned into, some into museums, some into hotels, it’s just beautiful
H: So there’s lots of culture then, I mean you’ve got that new arts centre that’s being built I think at the moment
H: There’s one being built and you’ve got the place where the symphony, or the tenor of the symphony
C: The Auditorio.
H: I have been there. That is really quite popular isn’t it?
C: The Auditorio looks like a mini Sydney Opera House, but with a beak like a bird beak, that goes inland and it was designed by Calatrava the very famous Spanish Architect. In fact we have two of his buildings –
H: And it’s an amazing building, we saw it just then on that footage earlier
C: It is, yes – it is fantastic
H: Well look we’ve got a cultural question come in now, now Mr Norman I think it is, and he says that he has visited many cultural hotspots in Spain and Alhambra, Moskita, Prada and so on, does Tenerife have anything to match? Well it sounds like we’ve probably answered his question already, you’ve got quite a lot of things there in the north
C: We do, we – in terms of contemporary architecture we have a lot going on in Santa Cruz it’s a very forward looking city to have famous architects designing buildings. The main square by the sea is totally being redesigned to face the sea, and the roads are all being sunk, I mean a huge project just to open the city into the sea, and this is all designed by Herzog, another very famous architect, but I think the thing in Tenerife that will match any great place in the rest of Spain is Mount Teide, nature gave it to us, once you’re up there in this cone and you see the second cone and you experience this with different light and so on, you could never get tired of it, you could drive around it 20 times and each time you would see different things – the colours, the beauty of it, the complexity of the rocks is absolutely gorgeous
H: Good, yes I know quite a lot of the cruise ships come in don’t they –
H: Into the north, into Santa Cruz
C: Into the north, yes
H: And presumably that’s why – for the culture. Now we’ve got a question from James, he says “with Valentines day just around the corner I’m looking to take my girlfriend away for a romantic week – would you suggest Tenerife?” Well I think the answer’s going to be yes. What is the weather like at this time of year, so that’s going to be February
C: February, you would get sun most certainly and you would have a nice warm weather. In the south it would probably be 23 / 24/ 25 in the sun, in the evenings it cools off a little bit, but never cold, never more than 18 / 20. If you went to the north you’ll probably have a couple of degrees less. I mean the new area of hotels going on from Los Christianos and all that has some absolutely magnificent hotels, but that whole area of the south has 15 miles of walkway by the sea –
C: And it’s all beautifully maintained with little restaurants looking into it, with gardens, the beach is beautifully maintained so you can’t go wrong
H: It sounds like you should live in Tenerife, certainly I want to having heard all this
C: I might!
H: Now, we’ve got a question in from Lisa, Lisa says “’I’m trying to get my parents to take me and my brother on holiday to Tenerife this summer – what is the best time of the year to go, my mother likes a bit of a breeze” – so plenty of breeze?
C: Plenty of breeze, I mean this is the beauty of Tenerife especially if you’re very sensitive to heat I would say choose a place in the north, you won’t go wrong you know and –
H: It sometimes does get a little bit cloudy in the north doesn’t it because you get the mist does come in – I mean I’ve been up there a few times and it clears up but you start in the morning with a sort of misty, cloudy look and you think oh gosh we’re going to have a miserable day, but it brightens up
C: It brightens up and yes it has clouds, you will probably find the sky very similar to our skies here you know where you have clouds but you have blue and you also have a lot of green vegetation around you and you need a few clouds to have the green
H: Ok. We’ve got a comment in actually came from a lady called Angie and she says “right now the sun is shining in Tenerife, 25 degrees and she’s really enjoying the show, so that’s good to know. I’m glad they’re watching. So really as a destination it’s now easier to get to, I mean I remember in the old days you had to go for a week because it was a charter flight or perhaps you could only fly into the north and then fly out of the north, I guess now you could fly into the north and then spend some time there, go to the south, fly out from there – you can do probably whatever you like
C: Whatever you like yes, and both airports are fantastic, there’s been a lot of money spent bettering the airports and easy to get to, it’s 4 hours away, we have flights from most major airports in the UK and we’ve never had as many flights as we have right now
C: Both charter and schedules, British Airways, Monarch – they’re two
C: Everybody so –
H: And all the major tour operators as well so it’s a sort of year round destination
C: Yes yes
H: You don’t have to pick any particular time
C: And a little secret right now there’s a lot of bargains going, so go for it
H: Ok, excellent well Clemencia thank you very much for coming in to talk about –
C: You’re welcome
H: Tenerife and I hope you’ve enjoyed the show, thank you for your questions, we’ve enjoyed talking about Tenerife. If you want to know more about Tenerife then click on the link on the page and find out more about Tenerife as a destination and we’ll see you again here on Holiday 07.