I try to avoid mentioning the weather on Tenerife where possible as it’s a topic that has been done to death. But it is understandably important and yet still many people get it completely wrong. Subsequently the weather on Tenerife is as misrepresented as the populist image that Tenerife is one big dry rock that is like a Britain in the sun circa 1985 where Rick Astley adds the soundtrack and the whiff of dated pub grub like chilli con carne provides the aromas.
Forget weather forecasts that give one, or even two forecasts for Tenerife and forget the tired old saying the south is sunny and dry, the north is cloudy and wet; it’s just not as simple as that.
Here are 10 tips to understanding the weather on Tenerife starting with the big misconception.
The South is Sunny, the North is Cloudy
The south is sunnier, drier and warmer than the north, that’s a fact. But it’s all relative. Tour operators and people who don’t know the north of Tenerife will state with confidence that it’s cloudy, cool and wet. Consider these other facts. The bulk of settlers, noblemen and artists chose the north of Tenerife to live in following the conquest in 1496. When Victorians were sent to a temperate climate for the benefit of their health, they were sent to the north of Tenerife. Temperatures in the depths of winter don’t normally drop much below 20C (68F) and it stays in the upper 20s to low 30s in summer. The north of Tenerife can be cloudy and it can rain in winter months but it isn’t the default setting.
There are not, like one half-wit on a travel forum stated, only 3 days sunshine a year in Puerto de la Cruz.
What Do temperatures in Celsius Actually Mean?
I get the impression from various online discussions that some people don’t understand Celsius so when the weather forecast for Tenerife says it’s going to be 20C or 30C, it doesn’t mean a great deal.
20c is 68F and generally speaking the ‘coolest’ daytime temperature in Tenerife’s coldest winter months (Mid January to end of February). In Palma Majorca at the same time it is 11C and in Malaga it is 12C.
30C is a whopping 86F. You might think that sounds great but lie in it for any length of time and you’ll be charcoaled. Around 25C (77F) is perfect and that is what all of Tenerife’s coasts experience for much of the year.
Rain in Tenerife
Yes it does rain on Tenerife, even in the south but not much and usually not for long. In the north, where there is more rain, it often falls in winter, at night and doesn’t last long. Short, very heavy downpours are common during seasonal changes (i.e. summer to winter and winter to spring). Most rainfall will happen in the hills.
The Sun Shines Every Day on Tenerife
Actually that one’s not far wrong – but it isn’t always in the same place or all day. Blue skies are almost a given in Las Cañadas del Teide but everywhere else will experience their share of cloudy days. Even on a cloudy day on Tenerife, the sun can often break through at some point.
Extremes of Weather on Tenerife are Caused by Climactic Change
There have been a couple of hairy storms in recent years but whether they have been caused by climactic change who can say. What is certain is that they are not a new weather phenomena. Tenerife has experienced times of extreme weather in its history. But thankfully they don’t occur too often.
What Does Having Many Micro Climates Mean?
It means that the weather can be different from the coast to the hills to the mountains; from one valley to the next and on north, east, south and west coasts.
It is why when anyone says Tenerife is an island of contrasts it is not a cliché. It is also why any weather website with an umbrella catch all forecast is not to be trusted. Use AEMET, the Spanish Meteorological Office or our interpretation of their predictions on Walking Tenerife for a forecast that breaks down different areas of Tenerife.
Think of these as common sense warnings. Yellow means low risk and you’ll hardly notice anything. Orange means some serious weather coming. Red means stay inside, batten down the hatches and pray. These are issued in relation to wind, rain, heat and sea conditions. The most misunderstood alert is for sea conditions. Often when there’s an alert for ‘costas’ it can be glorious weather on-land.
Whether the sea is warm enough to swim in all year depends on individual neshness level (i.e. what you consider too cold). In truth sea temperatures vary little between summer and winter, but the temperatures once you get out do which can make it seem colder. For me, It’s pleasant to swim in at any time.
Reliable Sources for Information about Current Weather Conditions
Be wary of anyone in one part of Tenerife telling you what the weather is like in other parts – there can be all sorts of motivations for talking down weather in other areas of the island, so only ever believe what a person in situ says. When we summarise the weather on our Walking Tenerife website we base it on what we have either experienced ourselves, what friends in other areas tell us and what people say online about the places they live or are visiting. Even webcams can’t be trusted but that’s another blog.
Most Important of All
Tenerife has been known for having a good, if not almost perfect, climate for centuries. You might get unlucky and experience a cold or wet spell in a 12 month period (rare during summer months). But most of the time the weather ranges from warm to hot. Enough said.
And finally, here’s an eleventh tip thrown in as a bonus. Despite what even some people who live on Tenerife seem to believe, when the weather in the south is bad, it doesn’t mean the weather in the north is worse – that’s just silly.