We enjoyed fantastic hikes all over Tenerife, from the Macizo de Teno in the east, to the Malpais of Güímar in the south, and of course all over the Cañadas of the Teide… but some of our favorite hikes were a bit closer to home. In fact, we just had to step out our door, and walk into the hills that surrounded Las Mercedes, in order to have an awesome day out.
The northern coast of Tenerife is a lot different from the more tranquil south. On this side of the island, the Atlantic Ocean is angrier, the water is colder, and the sand is neither golden and soft, but black and volcanic. But that doesn't mean the beaches of the north are never fun. We really enjoyed the small rocky beach of San Marcos, near Icod.
Back in the olden days, this is where local washer women would come to do their laundry. (I have no idea what the actual time frame must have been, like the 19th century? That feels right, but I'm covering my bases by just calling them the "olden days".) The park is located around a powerful natural spring, and the natural beauty of the area must have alleviated the monotony of the washing.
If Taborno were located anywhere else, the day would have been an absolute failure. The one thing we had planned on doing, didn't work out... but look at these views! We weren't able to find any suitable replacement activity... except from checking out these amazing views! Objectively, the day was a total failure. But man, did we enjoy those views.
Tenerife still boasts some places of great natural beauty which are almost completely off-the-radar, such as the forgotten village of Batan. But most areas of potential touristic interest have long since been "discovered". Many of these are still must-see despite the crowds, like the Roques de Garcia. But some of them are like Los Gigantes: over-run, obnoxious places you'd do well to avoid.
Tenerife's northern coast is defined by the untamed ocean which pounds its shores. The waves are great for surfers and photographers, but if you want to take a dip in the water, you have to wait for a calm day... which doesn't happen too often. For that reason, many towns in the north have created natural pools, fed with water from the Atlantic, but protected from the most violent waves.
The day after visiting Batan, one of the Anaga region's most secluded towns, we drove out to its most well-known. I mean "well-known" in sense relative to the Anaga forest; Taganana is still completely unknown by any other standard. The town lays along the northern coast of Tenerife; difficult to reach, but it's become something of a magnet for surfers, and people looking to get away from it all.
The mountains and forests of Tenerife are full of surprises. You can set out into the hills at random, and feel confident that you'll encounter something unforgettable, whether that's an unmarked trail leading to a glorious viewpoint, or a charming town you'd never heard of. We discovered Batan in this way, having set out in our car, without any itinerary... and it was among our best excursions on Tenerife. First, a quick (and unsolicited) plug for the…
On a hill overlooking both the town of Abades and the Atlantic Ocean, is the unfinished skeleton of a vast medical complex which was meant to treat patients suffering from leprosy. We're always drawn to abandoned places, and couldn't resist poking around the remains of the sanitarium.
On the second half of a long hike that began with an ascent up the Barranco de Ruiz, we passed through the charming village of San Juan de la Rambla, before continuing along the coastline back to our car. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at an amazing local spot.
We had enjoyed our initial hours of exploring Candelaria, but we really fell for the town during the second half of our day. After a coffee in the immense Plaza Patrona de Canarias, we walked up into the town's elevated historic quarter, saw some artisans craft clay pots, and discovered what might be our favorite restaurant on Tenerife.
We weren't expecting much from Candelaria, whose main claim to fame is a large Basilica. But the day we spent here was really nice. We learned about the Guanche kings, checked out an ancient cave chapel, and visited the incredible Basilica… and that was just within the first couple hours.