Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain)
Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, with 342 kms (213 miles) of coastline. It is also the most populated of the Islands with almost one million inhabitants (43% of the total population of the Canary Islands). The island is about 300 km (186 miles) from the West African coast, and approximately 1,000 km (621 miles) from Spain. Tenerife is also the economic capital of the Canary Islands.
The island’s landscape differs considerably between the north and the south. The north of the island has a rocky, steep and rugged coastline with lush vegetation, which contrasts significantly with the south that has a better sunshine record and an endearing lunar landscape with volcanic, sandy beaches.
Tenerife is dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain’s tallest peak at 3,718m above sea level. It is the third largest volcano in the world from its base, and Mount Teide National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site. Mount Teide has become one of the main reasons active visitors come to Tenerife. It has now become a leading destination for serious road cyclists and mountain bikers, and also offers excellent hiking and trekking options for those who want to explore the areas around the mountain on foot.
The island also has 67 kms (42 miles) of beaches, such as those found at El Médano, surpassed only in this respect by the island of Fuerteventura. There are many black sand pebble beaches on the northern coast, while on the south and south-west coast of the island, the beaches have typically much finer and clearer sand with lighter tones. This is where the large tourist resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas can be found. There are all the usual pass times found in the resort areas, including a busy nightlife. As the capital island, Tenerife is also rich in culture, and is well known for its Carnival de Santa Cruz, a huge pre-Lent festival with parades, music, dancing and colourful costumes, held in its capital town of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the north of the island.
The weather is a big reason why the island has so much to offer its visitors both on and off the water. The climate in Tenerife and the other Canary Islands is often described as an “eternal spring”, and the difference between average minimum and maximum temperatures throughout the year is just 6 – 8°C. The average temperatures in summer range from 24 – 26°C with much higher peaks, and in the winter months 18 – 20°C, but the north tends to be cooler, and the south warmer and sunnier. The sea temperatures range from 17° – 23 ° throughout the year, with the warmest temperatures in September and October and the coldest temperatures from January to April. In summer bring a light jacket for windy nights, and in winter you’ll need trousers and a jacket at in the evenings.
Tenerife is easily accessible from the major European cities with flight times of about four hours in duration. It is served by two international airports, Tenerife North and Tenerife South. As there are so many flights, there is a lot of competition amongst the airlines and flights can be found relatively cheaply. Car hire is also cheap compared to other locations.
- Year round sunshine and warmth
- Dramatic scenery and nature to explore
- Wide range of outdoor activities
- Reliable winds
- Great windsurfing and kitesurfing in El Medano
- Plenty of windsurfing and kitesurfing rental equipment
- Wide range of accommodation
- Many sporting options
- Spanish Culture
- Vibrant holiday environment and nightlife in the south
- Warm Beach culture in the south
- Suitable also for those looking for quieter areas
- Easy to get to from overseas
- Easy to get around
Sailing Locations in Tenerife
Tenerife offers world class windsurfing and kitesurfing in the south at El Medano, with clean and consistent winds for all levels, from entry to world class. El Medano town is a small resort that is situated on sandy bays. The water is flat to choppy, with great wave sailing locations that are easily accessible. It is only 15 minutes from Tenerife South Airport.
The dominant wind that blows 90% of the time is the north-east trade wind. This wind is accelerated by the topographical effects of Mount Teide to the north, that increases the wind strength in the south by 5 to 10 knots. The wind blows throughout the year, with the strongest wind to be found in July and August.
El Medano town is situated near the largest natural beaches of Tenerife, the Playa Grande and the Playa La Tejita. Between the beaches is La Montaña Roja ("The Red Mountain"), a volcanic cone that is a protected natural reserve. El Medano is a great place to relax and wind down. There is a large town square in front of the main beach, which holds many local fiestas, especially during the summer months and a spectacular annual public firework display across the bay. Around this square are many bars and restaurants where you can take a coffee or eat Spanish tapas or sea food. El Medano has a more Spanish theme than most other resorts in the south of Tenerife, frequented, especially on weekends, by local people with their children. There is also a long wooden boardwalk that follows the beach in a southerly direction past the windsurfing and kitesurfing areas, and through the "medanos" or rocky dunes that are a result of the erosion caused by wind and sea.
El Medano has three windsurfing and kiting areas offering diverse water conditions, where the north-east trade wind blows cross-onshore from the left. South Bay is the largest area, which is where the windsurfing and kitesurfing centres are located, and is the main launch spot. It is ideal for all levels depending on the conditions of the day. Cabezo beach to the north, with world class cross-onshore wave conditions is for experts, with up to mast high waves on strong days. In between the two bays is another area referred to as the Harbour Wall, that provides waves for all levels. The north-east trade wind is the predominant wind that blows 90% of the time. This wind is deflected by Mount Teide's crater wall, and is accelerated by strong thermal currents. This, combined with the Atlantic rollers, provide wave sailing at its best.
The windsurfing and kitesurfing centres are well stocked with the latest equipment from a wide variety of manufacturers, and are located five minutes' walk from the centre of town and the hotels and other accommodation.
The restaurants have an excellent reputation with locals and visitors alike, catering for all palettes and reflecting the town's cosmopolitan nature. The nightlife runs at a much gentler pace than at Playas des Americas, which is approximately 30 minutes away by road for those that want to hit the clubs.
Best Sailing Season
The wind is very consistent from January to September, with sometimes a short lull around May and June, before El Medano is at its windiest during the summer months of July and August, with the wind over 22 knots (force 5) 35% of the time, and the wind over 15 knots (force 4) over 95% of the time. For the majority of the other months of the year, the wind blows at this strength or more 70% of the time. The sea temperatures range from 20° – 26 ° in the south throughout the year, with the warmest temperatures in September and October and the coldest temperatures from January to March. Bring a wetsuit with long legs at least for the winter (2/3mmm) and a shorty for the summer. During the coldest days some may prefer a 3mm long sleeve suit.
Summary of the wind at El Medano:
- Cross-onshore 90% of the time (north-east).
- About 14 days of side-offshore wind a year.
- 35% of high winds over 22 knots (force 6 Bft).
- 37% of planing winds of 13 to 21 knots (force 4 to 5 Bft).
- 22% of non planing winds of 9 to 12 knots (force 3 Bft).
- 6% of winds under 8 knots (force 3 Bft).
- 1-2 days a year of “too much” wind!
The windspeed statistics below show the percentage of days with wind above 15 knots (force 4 Bft) and average sea and air temperatures at El Medano:
MONTH JAN FEB MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JUL AUGUST SEVEN OCT NOV DEC Month Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Wind 88 64 88 64 62 70 98 95 64 79 89 72 Air 21 22 23 22 23 24 27 28 27 26 24 22 Water 18 18 19 20 20 21 22 22 23 23 21 20
Types of Windsurfing and Kitesurfing
- Entry level windsurfing at low tide and lighter morning conditions
- Entry level kiting in medium winds
- Small to medium chop freeride
- Small to medium chop slalom windsurfing
- Choppy bump and jump when over 25 knots
- Wave riding entry level
- Wave riding advanced and world class at Cabezo
- World Class – The PWA windsurfing world cup come to visit El Medano annually in August
Getting to Tenerife
Tenerife has two international airports located at either end of the island. Tenerife North Airport is located 7kms from the island's capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Tenerife South Airport is located 60kms further south, 7kms from El Medano.
Some of the airlines that fly to Tenerife:
Airlines that operate between the other Canary Islands and Tenerife:
Getting to Tenerife by sea ferry from Spain:
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Spain and Tenerife:
- Trasmediterranea operates 1 route, Cadiz to Santa Cruz de Tenerife which runs 1 crossing per week.
- Fred Olsen Express operates 1 route, Huelva to Santa Cruz de Tenerife which runs 2 crossings per week.
- FRS VI operates 1 route, Huelva to Santa Cruz de Tenerife which runs 1 crossing per week.
Ferries that operate between the other Canary Islands and Tenerife:
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Tenerife and Gran Canaria:
- Trasmediterranea operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas which runs 1 crossing weekly.
- Naviera Armas operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas which runs 2 crossings weekly.
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Tenerife and Fuerteventura:
- Naviera Armas operates 1 route from Puerto del Rosario to Santa Cruz de Tenerife which runs 1 crossing per week
- Naviera Armas operates 1 route from Morro Jable to Santa Cruz de Tenerife which runs about 7 crossings per week.
There is 1 ferry route operating between Tenerife and Lanzarote:
- Naviera Armas operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Arrecife which runs 1 crossing per week.
- Trasmediterranea operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Arrecife which runs 1 crossing per week.
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Tenerife and La Palma:
- Trasmediterranea operates 1 route, Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Santa Cruz de La Palma which runs 1 crossing per week.
- Naviera Armas operates 1 route, Los Cristianos to Santa Cruz de La Palma which runs 7 times per week.
- Fred Olsen Express operates 1 route, Los Cristianos to Santa Cruz de La Palma which runs 11 times per week.
There are 2 ferry routes operating between Tenerife and La Gomera:
- Naviera Armas operates 2 routes, Los Cristianos to San Sebastian de la Gomera 4 times per day & Los Cristianos to Valle Gran Rey about 12 times per week.
- Fred Olsen Express operates 1 route, Los Cristianos to San Sebastian de la Gomera which runs 3 times daily.
Tenerife Activities & Culture
Tenerife has a great range of things to do and experience for down days or for non-sailing family members. It provides all the usual activities associated with holiday resorts, as well as the outdoor sports and activities that can be pursued in its mountainous terrain.
Exploring the island by car will provide access to its scenic national parks, including the Mount Teide National Park, and the Anaga Peninsular at the island's north-western tip.
The island changes dramatically in its landscape from the south as you head north into the Mount Teide National Park. From 500-600 meters above sea level, the vegetation becomes thicker, and between 1500 to 2000 meters, the Canary Pine woods appear. Above 2000m the landscape becomes volcanic, and the highest point of Pico del Teide rises up to 3718 meters. In winter the peak is covered in snow. There is a cable car up the mountain, but the peak can only be reached on foot, which requires a permit.
North of the capital Santa Cruz is the Anaga peninsular which its steeply mountainous and covered with thick vegetation. The landscape can be compared to the Andes of Central America, and there are narrow and winding roads that lead down to small villages and beaches by the sea.
At the western tip of the island is Acantilados de Los Gigantes, giant rock formations that rise out of the sea to between 500 and 850m. There is also Teno Park, with its spectacular cliffs, deep ravines, and dramatic scenery accessible by boat, trekking or mountain biking.
Tenerife is also rich in culture, much of this due to it being the capital island. One of its major events is the Carnival de Santa Cruz which is a busy pre-Lent festival with parades, music, dancing and colourful costumes.
Other Activities - water
- Stand Up Paddle boarding
- Boogie Boarding
- Water Park
- Sailing yacht cruises
- Whale and Dolphin watching
- Jet Skiing two hour tours
Other Activities - non water
- Relaxing on the beach
- Spa, wellness and health centres
- Yoga and Pilates
- Rock climbing
- Hiking and mountain trekking
- Road Cycling
- Electric E-bike cycling
- Mountain biking
- Horse riding
- Pool and Billiards
- Golf - The golf courses at Golf del Sur and Amarilla Golf are approximately 11km by road from El Medano
- Big game fishing
- Quad biking in Mount Teide National Park
- Telescope observation tours on Mount Teide
- Annual carnivals in February/March
- The annual Santa Cruz de Tenerife carnival parade
- Folk festivals
- Crafts and markets
- Art exhibitions
- Live music and entertaining jam sessions in Playa de las Américas
- Cinema, theatre and music events in all the major towns of the island
- The Symphony Orchestra of Tenerife
- Open air cinema
- Medieval Show and Dinner at Castillo San Miguel
- Tenerife Bodegas Monje Winery Tour
- Historical tour of the Mysterious Pyramids of Guimar
- Day trip to the island of La Gomera
- Mount Teide Cable car tour
- Various Mount Teide National Park hiking tours of varying levels
- Masca Valley Tour
- The Parque del Drago
- Jungle Park wildlife park
- UNESCO-listed Old Town of San Cristobal de La Laguna and the Mercedes Rain Forest
- Macizo de Anaga Biosphere Reserve at Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- Boat trip to explore the Antequera area for hiking
- Santa Cruz half day tours
- Camel riding through the trails and farmland that surround El Tanque
- Canyoning in the nature reserve of Montaña de Tejina and Teno Nature Reserve
- Hiking in the Parque Natural de Anaga
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Tenerife Travel Tips
You won’t need a visa if you’re staying for less than three months on a six-months interval, and you have nationality from any EU country or one of the following:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lithonia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Czech Republic, Korea, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Macao.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. This applies to the whole of Spain, including the Canary Islands. .
Staying for longer than 3 months:
If you’re planning to stay in the Canary Islands for longer than 3 months you must register in person at the nearest Office for Foreigners (Oficina de Extranjeros) which is normally part of the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento), or at designated Police stations.
If you decide to travel around Tenerife on public transport, you can catch the buses supplied by the company Titsa, which operate all over the island, and connect both Tenerife airports to other destinations.
European Health Card
This document replaces the old E-111 form. With this document you have the right to receive free medical assistance in every country within the European Union. This is valid for one year counting on the date you obtain it. To request this document you should present you medical card at your local Social Services
You can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in the Canary Islands, so talk to your doctor to see if the hepatitis A vaccine is right for you. Rabies is present in bats in the Canary Islands. However, it is not a major risk to most travellers.
Tenerife has 3G and 4G mobile coverage which can be accessed from most phones.
As Tenerife is part of Spain, it therefore counts as part of the EU for allowing UK and other European allowances for roaming in the EU.
You could also get a local phone number and the option of taking out a mobile Internet package.
Hotels provide WiFi which is accessible from the rooms. There is usually no extra charge. Many bars and restaurants now also provide guest Wi-Fi services good enough for you to check messages and emails or download/upload documents.
Electrical device compatibility
In Tenerife, the power sockets are of the two pin type C. A power plug converter will be required to plug in your device if it has a different socket. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Appliances that have voltages ranging from 220V to 240V will be compatible.
There is car rental available from both Tenerife airports and the ferry ports.
Spanish is the language of Tenerife. However, English is widely spoken in the tourist areas, as well as German in the windsurf and kitesurf centres.
Tenerife has year round warm weather. The wind blows all year, but is at its strongest in July and August for those who are particularly looking for high wind reliability. Otherwise, the island is very much a winter destination for Europeans who want to escape the cold of Northern Europe and enjoy the outdoor activities on offer, or just laze around on the beach in the sun.
Transporting gear to/and domestically
Windsurfing and kiting gear can be taken on a number of airlines. However, airlines are getting ever stricter on the carrying of equipment, so check carefully the latest sports equipment carrying options with each airline.