Tenerife isn't a massive island, so the sheer diversity of landscapes it contains is impressive, from lava-strewn volcanic wastelands, to ancient laurel forests teeming with life. During a drive along the southern coast, we stopped to explore an area that has nothing to do with the fabulous beaches the coastline is otherwise known for: the Badlands (Malpais) of Güímar.
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.
We had approached the Cañadas del Teide from the north, the east, and the south… and that left just one mark on the compass. After hiking through the mountainous landscape of Teno, we returned home not along the coast (though this would have been faster) but up and across the center of the island. And we discovered that the western approach to the Teide national park might be the most spectacular of all.
Garachico is trapped between a mountain and the Atlantic, but makes the most of its a narrow slice of land. We parked near the old harbor, where a set of natural pools welcome visitors in the summer, and went directly to the tourist office.