Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

- Advertisement -

The wild side of Tenerife: Forget floundering on the beach – forest trails, volcanoes and whale watching await

Sometimes just a hangover is enough. I wanted to wake up with a sore head and a hairy tongue. Like so many of us who have lived under a leaden sky for so long, I felt sun-starved and hungry for fun.

So one drizzly winter morning I boarded a BA flight to Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands. My husband and I were heading to the west coast and the Ritz-Carlton, Abama, one of the most glamorous resorts.

He was in the mood for tennis; my sole purpose was to kick back with some long-neglected novels, wine glass in hand. My copy of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair was left behind just before Wellington met Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

Our week in Tenerife ended in total disappointment. In the best possible way.

Deirdre Fernand spent a week at the Ritz-Carlton, Abama, one of Tenerife’s most glamorous resorts

The lazy vacation I had so longed for never materialized. All because a rock in the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Spain, located 200 miles off the coast of Africa, seduced me with its mountains, forest trails and snow-capped volcano.

With year-round temperatures averaging 22c, it is reliably warm and sunny. No wonder over five million tourists visit Tenerife every year, with us Brits leading this sultry army.

Had I done my homework, I would have found out that all of the island’s natural wonders were within an hour’s drive of our hotel.

It took a patient concierge, Carlos, to explain that we could visit the volcano, Mount Teide, or go whale watching – and still be back in time for dinner.

He spoke of sun-drenched vineyards and ancient villages clinging to the hills.

The hotel (above) overlooks the verdant island of La Gomera and is an hour's drive from all of the island's natural wonders

The hotel (above) overlooks the verdant island of La Gomera and is an hour's drive from all of the island's natural wonders

The hotel (above) overlooks the verdant island of La Gomera and is an hour’s drive from all of the island’s natural wonders

“I promise you will have a wonderful adventure,” he gushed as he waved us off. “Not many of our guests ever bother to explore.” It made us feel like Columbus discovered the new world.

Mind you, it’s easy to understand why so few leave the resort, built in the style of a Moroccan citadel, tumbling from a hillside to a sandy beach. With nearly 500 rooms, eight restaurants, two of which have a Michelin star, and seven swimming pools, it’s so big that a train whizzes guests from one end to the other.

We would have loved to spend our days lounging by the infinity pool, overlooking the verdant island of La Gomera. But we knew that if we didn’t break to the perimeter early, we would never tear ourselves free.

I’m so glad we did. Following Carlos’ instructions, we set off along a winding road through the national park to the slopes of the volcano. Towering above us was the peaceful Mount Teide, which last erupted in 1909.

As we got higher, the temperature plummeted and we encountered summer and winter.

Deirdre hiked through Mount Teide National Park. “Towering above us was peaceful Mount Teide (above), which last erupted in 1909,” she says

Behind us we could see the ocean glinting under an afternoon sun; ahead: an alpine scene of spruce and pine. Soon we found ourselves above the tree line, between jagged rocks and lava fields, all 50 shades of gray.

This was the alien landscape we had heard about. When we stopped to take pictures, the cold wind stung our faces. With waves of icy fog rolling in, the rock formations took on a ghostly air.

We were relieved to reach the Parador Canadas del Teide, the only hotel in the park, to defrost with hot chocolate.

Carlos was right about the adventures on our doorstep – and we were indeed back in time for dinner.

Deirdre explored Masca, above, a hamlet halfway up a mountain

Deirdre explored Masca, above, a hamlet halfway up a mountain

Deirdre explored Masca, above, a hamlet halfway up a mountain


BA Holidays is offering seven nights B&B in a deluxe spa view room at The Ritz-Carlton Abama from £799 pp, on selected dates in May 2023, including flights from London Gatwick. Book before January 31, 2023 at ba.com/tenerife

Few visitors to Tenerife will know that about half of the island is made up of national or local parks, and we were eager to see more. Another trip took us north to Masca, a hamlet halfway up a mountain.

It was first settled by the indigenous Guanche people who lived here before the Spanish conquest 600 years ago, and it is home to about 50 people. Until the first road was built in the 1970s, it was only accessible on foot or by mule.

Our guide, Manuela, led us along these ancient trails, stopping so we could gawk at the view of the sea in the distance. This was a whole different kind of wild beauty: waterfalls, cliffs, rock pools and vertiginous ravines.

If only I could tell you about the boat we took to see the whales. Or the lazy afternoons we spent sampling the rosé from the local vineyards. But we ran out of time. Too bad I never opened my copy of Vanity Fair. I wonder who won the Battle of Waterloo…

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.