Also known as La Recova, Nuestra Señora de África is the primary market hall of Santa Cruz. It was constructed in 1944 in a neo-colonial style, and today welcomes both tourists and locals to its interior patios, to buy all the trinkets, veggies, or meat they can carry.
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.
It's fair to say that we were fairly underwhelmed upon pulling into the parking lot, and casting our first glance upon the Juan Évora Ethnographic Museum in the Teide National Park. This had to be one of the smallest museums we had ever seen -- a stone shack with two rooms in the middle of a wasteland. But the price was right (free) so we decided to check it out.
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…
Despite its location on the other end of the island from our house, we found ourselves repeatedly drawn to the Teno mountain range. Today, we plotted out a hike which would take us from the highland village of Teno Alto, through strange, jagged landscapes, down to the coastal road that ends at Tenerife's westernmost lighthouse.
We've already written about the leper sanitarium, built in the 1940s and discarded before construction had finished, but Tenerife is home to many other abandoned buildings and complexes. These modern ruins are a testament to human ingenuity, but also greed and short-sightedness; projects which were either once useful but now obsolete, or ill-conceived from the get-go. We explored as many as we could, and here are a few. We'll post even more, later.
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.
The hikes we map out for ourselves usually tend to be circular. Round trips involve less hassle, and there's something satisfying about arriving back to where you started; it makes the day feel complete. But we couldn't resist the one-way hike between Anaga's Cruz del Carmen and Punta del Hidalgo, ten kilometers away, on the northern coast. The fact that it's almost entirely downhill might have helped.
The vast majority of visitors to Tenerife come for the sun and the sand; this is a tropical destination known primarily for its beaches. But during our first month on the island, we didn't visit a single beach, concentrating instead on the forests and mountains. Today, though we decided to check out the Playa de las Teresitas, in the town of San Andrés just up the coast from Santa Cruz.
Throughout the age of industrialization, the Canary Islands experienced massive immigration to the New World. Later, the current of people began flowing in the other direction. People from across Latin America settled down in the Canaries, including a large number of Venezuelans... and you know they weren't going to leave their arepas behind.
On our first visit to the volcanic region known as Arenas Negras, we had done a loop around the Montaña Negra. This "Black Mountain" last exploded three hundred years ago, utterly destroying the seaside village of Garachico. We were so impressed by the otherworldly area, that we promised ourselves to return for a second hike… and it was a promise we kept.