Things To Do In Tenerife | Why The Island Is The Ultimate Adventure Destination

Scratch beneath Tenerife's tourist-pleasing surface and you'll find yourself a multi-sport paradise

So you’re a group of chums. A squad, a posse, a crew. You’ve decided to get together for a short break away. Somewhere sunny, somewhere not requiring an HS2 style budget, somewhere… fun.

Thing is, everyone’s into different stuff. Some are hardcore ironmen who obsess over their own athletic performance and try to ruin after work drinks in pubs by saying things like, “Thing is, at that level” every sentence.

Others have a hardcore Rapha fetish and just like to roll on bitumen wearing £140 socks.

Others haven’t started their mid-life crisis, yet.

“The Canary Isles has been undergoing… a rebrand from its all inclusive, check shirt n’ lager, Brits on the piss package hols”

Then there’s the hardcore surf rat who won’t waste valuable hols by going somewhere not blessed with rolling thunder, there’s the dedicated day drinking enthusiast one who merely likes cheap pints and all day Full English breakfasts in the sun… any time of year.

The boatie one, the free dive masochist, the rambler, the 90’s adrenaline junkie, the nature lover… I could go on.

You might be forgiven for thinking that getting the Gatwick Express together, before bidding farewell and going your separate ways is the closest you’ll get to a shared holiday experience.

Alternatively, you could go to the Canary Island of Tenerife.

The biggest of the Canary Isles has been undergoing something of a rebrand from its all inclusive, check shirt n’ lager, Brits on the piss package hols.

Sure, they’re still there, but there’s so much more on offer, too.

Road Cycling In Tenerife

As any suburban Sunday morning taxi driver will tell you, road cycling was invented in 2012 by forgetful asthmatic Sir Bradley Wiggins. But there are rumours that it existed elsewhere before that, and there is evidence that Wiggins himself went to Tenerife in 2011 to train on Tenerife’s Mt Teide to prepare for his historic Tour win, launching the island’s current chic among road cyclists.

The route up Teide, while not the highest road is Europe, is the longest continuous ascent, partly because you can start at sea level.

“As any suburban Sunday morning taxi driver will tell you, road cycling was invented in 2012 by forgetful asthmatic Sir Bradley Wiggins”

In 35km you can go from 0m to 2100m of continuous climbing, without any flat section whatsoever. There’s even the Parador hotel at the top where Wiggins, Froome, Armstrong (and presumably other cyclists who haven’t been embroiled in doping allegations, too) have all stayed.

A road loop of Tenerife itself is 223km, and with daily highs of mid 20-30C year round, the weather is slightly more conducive to shredding your Strava goals than the Cat & Fiddle A537 climb in a howling north westerly.

Surfing In Tenerife

The Canary Islands are known as ‘Europe’s Hawaii’ for good reason; warm weather, warm water, consistent swell and powerful reef breaks on their northern shores, facing into the full fury of the North Atlantic. They’ve even got some of the less welcoming parts of the Hawaiian surf experience, like fiercely territorial locals and treacherous, shallow reef breaks seemingly designed by the lava gods specifically for mashing up boards and bodies.

“The Canary Islands are known as ‘Europe’s Hawaii’ for good reason”

Summertime can get long range southern hemisphere swells on the south facing shores, when the rest of Europe is becalmed by the Azores high. But with plenty of surf schools and equipment hire, you don’t even need to bother lugging your quiver at the mercy of baggage fees and handlers (read: mutilators).

Las Americas in the southwest has a string of reefbreaks to suit all levels, from the best wave ‘Spanish Left’ where the annual WSL event is held, to adjacent peaks for less accomplished shredders up and down the promenade.

Freediving In Tenerife

Apnea – which essentially means starting to die due to lack of oxygen – has become more and more popular in recent years, but there’s nothing new about it.

Human ancestors were aquatic apes for millions of years, giving us all sorts of evolutionary adaptations to the underwater life, while freediving itself is at least 8000 years old.

“You can find spots with 100m depth just a short swim from shore”

And in today’s well-established competition scene and range of world record divisions, there aren’t many elite freedivers today who haven’t trained in Tenerife.

The reason for that is you can find spots with 100m depth just a short swim from shore, in water temps that range from 25C in summer to 18C in winter, and best of all the water is blue and the viz generally excellent.

Radazul Bay in Tenerife’s east is regarded as one of the best places in the world for deep freediving, with other highlights including nearby Tabaiba wreck and the chance to see passing schools of barracuda, and of course, Bastard Grunt (it’s a fish).

Trail Running / Trekking In Tenerife

With mountainous, volcanic terrain, lush forests, ravines, valleys, coastal dunes and trippy lava moonscapes, the Canaries have trail running and trekking to suit all levels of athleticism and all terrain tastes.

Whether you want to push yourself training for ultra-events, or whether you’re more thinking a measured sunlit stroll in breathtaking surrounds pausing to observe some of the island’s endemic bird species through your lightweight bins over a spot of Kendal mint cake, there’s plenty for you on Tenerife.

“Tenerife’s most-celebrated trail descends Masca Gorge in the west down to the coast”

If you want to push yourself (thing is, at that level), the Anaga Extreme trail starting in La Cumbrilla taking in El Pijaral in the island’s north is a highly technical trail with over 2km climbing over a 22km loop.

When it comes to hiking, Tenerife’s most-celebrated trail descends Masca Gorge in the west down to the coast where you can wash off with a dip under the epic Los Gigantes cliffs. And yeah, that’s downhill, baby.

And if you do find yourself going harder there’s plenty on hand to aid recovery from all the training scene built up over the years in terms of physios, masseuses, etc.

Climbing In Tenerife

Plenty of topographic contrast, consistent good weather and ease of access make Tenerife’s mainly sport climbing and bouldering with some trad spots a favourite for warm weather training, all year round.

“There are also some epic deepwater soloing overhang spots for those who prefer a ropeless fall to end in a splash and a swim”

At 3718m high, Mt Teide dominates the terrain, but there are great spots to be found across the island, with the majority located in the south around Arico, which has over 250 single pitch sport climb routes across various grades, – predominantly intermediate with max heights of 35m – with either side of the valley providing shade depending on the time of day.

And of course, being an island, there are also some epic deepwater soloing overhang spots for those who prefer a ropeless fall to end in a splash and a swim, rather than a squelchy thud.

Sailing In Tenerife

Often used a hopping off point before crossing the Atlantic, Tenerife and the neighbouring islands have loads going for them as cruising destinations in their own right. More challenging than the Greek Islands or Caribbean in terms of cruising, there are nevertheless some beautiful anchorages and well appointed marinas much cheaper than their mainland Europe counterparts.

In terms of excitement, wind acceleration zones (WAZ) caused by the funneling effects of the islands mean wind can go from calm to Force 5 in minutes, but the prevailing NE trades’ reliability, epic weather and warm water all make for a great island hopping sail adventure.

Why not throw your surfboards (climbing gear/road bike/swim fins) aboard for some real joined up thinking.


  • Carnival de Santa Cruz de Tenerife (in Feb) is considered second only to Rio for street festivities. Imagine 400 000 folk in fancy dress up for days shaking rumps to Celia Cruz and the like. Absolute scenes.
  • Siam Lagoon Wave Park is kind of a first generation wave pool, compared to the latest tech being developed and built in recent years, but just like the original iPod, has its merits.
  • Being a tourist island, there are more restaurants than seems feasible. But if you’re looking for the best one for healthy, recovery meals with loads of vegan options (which obvs you are), you’ll find it at the Yasmin Lebanese restaurant in Costa Adeje.

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