Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Looking for an Authentic Canarian Resort on Tenerife

A regular question that pops up from would-be visitors to Tenerife is a variation of ‘I’m looking for an authentic Canarian (Spanish) town to stay in. Where should I choose?’

The first time we heard this question we answered it we thought it meant that the person asking wanted a really authentic Canarian town and so came back with Garachico if they wanted to stay on the coast and La Orotava if they were happy to stay inland a bit.
In the end they opted for Costa del Silencio - not a place I’d have ever included in an answer about authentic Canarian resorts except maybe to say not to go there. 
 That was one of our first lessons in learning that it was important to understand what people actually meant when they said they wanted ‘authentic’.
It’s quite amazing the number of people who indicate they want somewhere with a Spanish feel and then opt for Golf del Sur or Los Gigantes. When they say authentic they often mean somewhere smaller and quieter than Playa de las Américas with a few traditional eateries, but also with bars and restaurants that wouldn’t feel too alien. Send them to Tacoronte or Güímar and an email of thanks for recommending truly authentic towns would probably not be forthcoming.

We now tend to be able to spot the people who really want the Orotava’s and Garachico’s – they are more likely to be very specific about what they’re after and, a bit of a generalisation here, are a bit better at researching online and send their questions to us directly.

TripAdvisor is an excellent tool for advice about the main resorts, but anyone really looking for ‘authentic’ Tenerife is unlikely to use it as a first stop. Nine times out of ten you can bet that anyone asking the question there is looking for Costa del Silencio, Golf del Sur or Los Gigantes.

But if you really are looking for a coastal resort (if you head into the hills anywhere on Tenerife you’ll soon find yourself faced with authentic) that has a Canarian atmosphere then here are some suggestions.

Alcalá – only a hop, skip and a jump away from the south western trio of Los Gigantes, Puerto Santiago and Playa de la Arena but more Canarian by far. Plenty of choice of varied restaurants for its size; life focuses around a small plaza and sunshine is a plenty. The luxury hotel Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora on the edge of town has brought in more visitors, but for now it’s Canarian through and through.

Playa San Juan – Next door to Alcalá and a bit bigger in size. Not quite as charming but with a much better beach. A decent amount of bars and restaurants, but there’s a lack of accommodation – probably why it still feels Canarian. A lot more British voices in town than there was even a few years ago.
Garachico – Truly authentic and historic town on the north west coast and one of the Canary Islands’ most charming. Plenty of restaurants and the hotels are small boutique affairs in wonderful old buildings. Busy with visitors during the day and quiet at night.

El Médano – Wind and Kite surfers’ favourite haunt on the south east coast that gets oodles of sun and a fair breeze (hence the surfers). Bohemian and laid back with a strong Canarian atmosphere. Loads of good restaurants and a few imaginative bars.

Las Galletas
– Joins on with Costa del Silencio but miles away in character. A Canarian town and small fishing community with a pleasant marina which has a few restaurants overlooking the sea and lots more on the seafront promenade. Complete shortage of hotels though.

Las Caletillas – Part of Candelaria on the east coast and a place favoured by Spanish holidaymakers. The old part of Candelaria where the Basilica stands is much more charming than the newer Las Caletillas area where the hotels are located. Both sides of town have a good selection of restaurants and some of the biggest fiestas on Tenerife take place in Candelaria.

Los Cristianos – some people might scoff at this suggestion. Los Cristianos may be the choice for a lot of mature European visitors but its soul is distinctly Canarian. Wander through the harbour in the day and head to San Telmo late at night and you’ll see what I mean.

Puerto de la Cruz – The best mix of Canarian town/ tourist resort on Tenerife (okay I’m biased…but it is) as it’s a working town as well as a tourist resort. As much, if not more so, a playground for Canarios from the Orotava Valley and around as it is visitors. Stick to the old town, join in the fiestas of which there are plenty and don’t party until after midnight and you’ll see a very different place from that experienced by visitors who frequent the handful of bars aimed at British visitors.
 Choose any of the above and you’ll be assured of a taste of Canarian life – but remember the strength of the flavour may vary slightly depending on how much you bite into it.

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