Playa de las Américas
This, Tenerife’s largest holiday resort, was purpose built in the 1960s and has remained particularly popular with bucket-and-spade package tourists ever since. Don’t expect much in the way of sophistication, but its big, brash and buzzy vibe is an undoubted draw for hordes of all kinds of tourists, from stag parties to families, each year. It has five main beaches (mostly artificial, with sand from the Sahara Desert), some of the island’s biggest resort hotels, and – for those wanting to get away from the hubbub – the Central Park of Arona, providing 42,000 square metres (four hectares) of gardens featuring native flora and plenty of space to relax away from the crowds.
Puerto de la Cruz
This is the main resort found on the north side of Tenerife, and was formerly the island’s biggest. While tourism here started back from the sixties when it was just a fishing village, it has managed to retain plenty of local character with its typically Canarian churches, squares and streets. The resort also attracts a fair few Spanish mainlanders over the summer months. The town still remains very popular with British and German visitors, with its picturesque old town, black sand beaches and some of the island’s best known tourist attractions such as the Loro Parque zoo and Lago Martianez leisure park and pool complex. Nestled in the lush Orotava Valley, the town is also surrounded by a verdant landscape of sub-tropical flora and fruit plantations.
Tourists have been flocking to the sunny resort of Costa Adeje for as long as Tenerife has been a holiday destination. And it’s easy to see why, with some of the island’s best beaches (Playa del Duque and Playa Fañabé), a wide selection of hotels and plenty of family-friendly fun – it’s home two of the island’s best water parks, Siam Park and Aqualand. The setting on the south coast of the island also means guaranteed sunshine for most of the year, plus there’s no shortage of shops, bars, restaurants and general nightlife (albeit mostly with a distinctively British flavour).
Part of the westerly tip the island, this laid-back resort gets its name from the huge cliffs that sit just to the north of the town. The impossibly steep formations rise to a giddy 800 metres (2,625 feet), dwarfing the black volcanic sand beach and collection of secluded rocky coves beneath. Largely geared towards tourism, the resort mainly comprises hotels, holiday apartments and a selection of bars and restaurants largely catering to the British market. A harbour provides boating, scuba diving and water sports opportunities, though those looking for nightlife will be disappointed by the resort’s mostly sedate atmosphere.
Los Cristianos is the second-largest resort along the south coast of the island, and feels like a continuation of the Playa de las Americas. It has two main beaches, Playa de las Vistas and Playa de los Cristianos, the former of which was finished with sand borrowed from the Sahara desert. While there’s plenty in the way of dining and drinking establishments, it’s a little more laid-back than its more boisterous neighbour, and consequently tends to attract the more mature tourist. The resort also hosts the island’s largest street market every Sunday, plus a ferry port connects to the capital Santa Cruz and some other neighbouring Canary Islands.
Certainly one of the more upmarket resorts on the island, Puerto Colón is located on the southwest coast just up from Costa Adeje. Manmade breakwaters protect an artificial beach with calm, child-friendly water and soft sand, and there are usually plenty of fun inflatables bobbing around the bay. The marina is full of yachts and high-end boats, plus there’s a great choice of boat excursions available. Watersports are also in abundance, offering everything from jet-skiing and windsurfing to diving and kitesurfing.
Playa de la Arena
This small and serene resort on the island’s west coast is where holidaymakers go for a more relaxed and low-key experience. There are just three main hotels, together with a pretty promenade lined with tourist restaurants. The resort features one of the finest black sand beaches, particularly clean and generally uncrowded. Walkers are also well-placed for hiking trails along the rugged coast, and the massive cliffs of Los Gigantes loom within eyeshot. Nightlife consists of a few friendly Irish bars, so anyone looking for anything more lively should consider elsewhere, though there is a small casino.