Tenerife is one of the islands in the Canary Island chain off the north coast of Africa. Santa Cruz is the capital and port city where many yachts stop for fuel before heading across the Atlantic.
Santa Cruz is not a very touristy city and, in fact, much of the city around the port is commercial and industrial. However, if you only have a few hours in town, there a quite a few nice spots to walk to. If you have a day or two, I recommend renting a car and traveling around the island where there is a lot to see and do.
The city of Santa Cruz lies just across from the port. I never saw a city center to speak of, however, if you walk through the city you will find a trendy shopping area that is quite good as well as restaurants, bars, churches and some really pretty parks. Much of the city around the port has been well maintained and landscaped with tropical plants and palm trees, which add to its curb appeal. If you’re there on a Sunday, in typical Spanish fashion, everything is closed except some bars and restaurants.
Along the waterfront, walking south, you will see a music hall called Auditorio de Tenerife that resembles the Sydney Opera House. This is worth a look, and if you call ahead you can book a ticket to tour inside the music hall rooms. The cost for a visit inside the rooms is 5 euros and open at 12:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Otherwise, you can have a drink and a snack on the patio outside, overlooking the ocean.
Just south of the music hall, past a beach club, there is a botanical garden that features palm trees and tropical plants from around the world. It also built on top of an old landfill, which is a testament to much of the greening of the city that seems to be happening everywhere. The entrance fee is 4 euros and you are able to walk through the park, which overlooks the city and ocean. It’s not a mind-blowing experience but it was a nice thing to do on a Sunday.
If there is time, rent a car and see other parts of Tenerife. Anaga Rentacar is affordable and will deliver and pick up your rental car at your boat. They also speak English. ( www.anagarentacar.com)
North of Santa Cruz
When you head north by car, you can wind up the Anaga mountains and do one of many hikes. There are many trails so you can stop and pick any of them for an adventure or go to the Real Tenerife website and download a map (www.realtenerifeislanddrives.com/Walking%20Tenerife.html).
The trails are often wet because it rains a lot and often is misty. However, when you do get a break in the clouds, it is quite stunning.
Later on the same day that we explored the Anagas, we set up a surf lesson with Green Wave Surf School (email@example.com). Alex, our instructor, was really good. He speaks English and took our safety and comfort level into account when he took us out. The beach we went to at Punto De Hidalgo, just over the Anagas, was rocky, with a consistent small, beginner break. Overall we had a great time and remember it as one of the highlights of our day out.
South of Santa Cruz
As you cross through the middle of the island driving south from Santa Cruz, you can reach Teide National Park. Teide is an active volcano reaching over 12,000 feet from the base to the top. Before reaching the top, you will see an eclectic range of trees, rocks and colors that are just stunning.
At the base of Teide there is a car park where you’ll find a viewing area of a large crater. The landscape resembles how I imagine the moon to look and the rocks are much lighter than they appear. If you would like to get to the top of the volcano there is a cable car near the crater that runs as long as the wind is not up.
Bring water and lip balm. Because of the altitude, it’s easy to become dehydrated.
Over the mountains on the south of the island you will find large resort towns that cater to British tourists, mainly. The most popular are beaches called Las Americas and Los Cristianos. Both are international and have beachside resorts throughout. El Camison is an area between them that has a little more high-end restaurants, shopping and resorts.
If you find yourself looking for a place to have sundowners on the beach in El Camison, I recommend the beach club called La Palapa. It is right on the beach and has an upscale atmosphere.
Overall, if you have a stop over in Tenerife, there is a lot to fill a day or two. If you can get out of Santa Cruz, I recommend it. If you can’t, then soak up the tropical weather and enjoy being on land locally.
Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from entries in her blog, The Yachtie Glow (www.angelaorecchio.com), which offers tips for crew on how to be healthy, fit and happy on board. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.