With burnout looming, we decided on some time away to get ourselves back on track for a successful 2023. Half an hour of Googling and we were set! Where we found ourselves was on the Canary Island of Tenerife. The south of the island is the warmest part which was what we were after, with it being January and the winter season.
It is also the busiest part of the island with its sandy beaches and countless eateries luring visitors in. Los Cristianos is no exception, with an astounding number of restaurants and beach bars to choose from. Sipping a cool drink and watching the sun setting over the sea has a particular charm.
First: Relax and Catch Up On Some Sleep
We loved our first few days exploring the town and the local beaches.
The sandy beach at Fuente Playa de Las Vistas became our go-to spot for those first few days of winding down. I'm not really one for sunbathing, but there was something so relaxing about the sun on my back in the cool breeze, that I found myself dozing off occasionally - even woke myself snoring at one point. Warning: falling asleep in the sun is not wise and sun protection only works if you cover every inch. Even though I am extremely careful about sun protection and I am careful to choose shirts that offer UV protection, I had a lovely red patch on my leg for days where I had missed a bit.
Second: Try Some Snorkeling
Snorkelling is great in the Canaries and the beach at Las Vistas just happens to be a snorkelling hotspot. Close to the harbour and bordered by rocky outcrops it provides a good spot for marine life to thrive. It was a perfect opportunity to test our goggles before we ventured further. Now we don't have lots of fancy snorkelling equipment and we don't use it regularly, so it's to be expected that goggles will leak. I have found the best way to overcome this problem.
What I do is use a set of noseplugs underneath the goggles themselves. It sounds like overkill, but it's so much easier when you don't have to tread water to empty your goggles when seawater builds up inside. Works well if you can't afford expensive snorkelling sets.
Spent a happy day bobbing about watching the brightly colored fish chase each other, and swimming amongst huge shoals, where tiny flashes of silver glided around me in unison. Magical.
The weather at this time of the year is changeable. It can be bright and warm one minute and cool and overcast the next, and then warm again. Of course, this can make things tricky when you are swimming in the ocean. It's lovely when you're in the water, but less so when you are wet and shivering in the wind. In my experience, it is worth taking along a fleecy vest or windbreaker even if it stays rolled up in the bottom of your backpack. That way you can stay and enjoy yourself longer and maybe even swim again after your rest.
One thing I do is swap my damp swimming gear for dry ones so I am not sitting in damp underwear. It's easy enough to do if you bring along a towel or baggy dress or t-shirt, and it will help you stay warm if the weather is challenging. Just be careful to obey the rules in the country you are visiting. In this case, it was just fine.
Two days of beach and we were itching to go and explore. In my world, no trip is complete without a hike of some sort, so the balance of our time in Tenerife was spent exploring the coast and mountains in the south of the island.
Third: West Coast Hike
We spent a particularly lovely day hiking miles along the West Coast (travelling North along the coast) from our base in Los Cristianos. It wasn't even planned - but then some of the best days exploring, are those that develop spontaneously.
The initial plan was to climb Chayofita, a mountain that formed the backdrop to our beach trip the day before. We found the path and scrambled to the top, to be rewarded with a beautiful view of Los Cristianos and its harbour. That took us 10 minutes - and I wanted to see more! The trail back down on the opposite side was very special, as we found ourselves meandering through the dark gravelly soil that typifies a volcanic island. It was surreal to think that some time ago the lava stones we were stepping over had been flung out of a volcano. I found it quite a humbling experience.
We had spotted a bay from the top of Chayofita Mountain and we decided to go and explore along the coastal paths with that bay (Puerto Colón) as our destination. And explore we did! For 6 hours we walked from one bay to the next to the next, leaving Puerto Colón far behind by sunset.
When I travel I tend to remember moments and visuals. These are 3 of my favourites:
Along the coast near Playa Las Americas, we found a small protected area with lovely iron sculptures (Stahlskulptur am Piscina Naturale). The sun was so bright and the rusty metal glowed in the sun. Just had to take a photo, or two.
Watching the Waves at Puerto Colón
Another moment that will stay with me is sitting on the rocks lining the harbour of Puerto Colón. Had ourselves a little empanada picnic with the salty breeze cooling us down. Wherever we go, we try to find spaces a little less popular with tourists and more often than not those simple experiences are the special moments I remember.
Black Sand of Playa del Duque
The real treasure of the day was the time we spent at Playa del Duque. What a beautiful bay. Sheltered from the wind, the characteristic black sand was lovely and warm. We thought we overheard that a 'baby' shark had just been spotted in the area, but after a conversation with a lifeguard, we discovered it was actually a Basking Shark that had been sighted. As they feed on plankton, we were happy to spend some time exploring the waters and marine life in the beautiful clear water of the bay.
After we had dried off we did a bit of exploring along the rocks north of Playa del Duque. Watching the sunset that evening near the stone piles will stay with me for a long time.
Top Tip Of The Day
Taking along my scarf was a great decision. It's made of brushed cotton and large enough to cover my neck and chest when the wind is cold. I had used it to huddle under while I dried off after the snorkelling. It is also quite light and I decided to slip it into the backpack even though I hadn't really expected to use it.
It was a lifesaver though, as the sun was so sharp that day that I used it to cover my back and shoulders. As we walked let it drift in the wind like a sail, which gave me protection from the sun without it making me hot and bothered. When it's too warm for a long-sleeved hiking shirt this is a wonderful compromise. I will definitely be packing it for future coastal hikes.
We have written a bunch of reviews on the gear we use on our adventures. Happy to share with you what works for us. Wishing you the best adventures ever!