25C isn’t hot enough on Tenerife, that’s crazy

I’ve just read a comment which said “so not really that hot then?” when advised temperatures at the coast in the north of Tenerife would be between mid and upper 20sC in August.

Hands up who knows exactly what a weather forecast of 25C actually means in real terms?

I’ll stick mine up first. Until we moved to Tenerife and starting experiencing these sort of temperatures over a prolonged period, I didn’t appreciate at all what 25C meant.

Keeping cool at July Fiestas in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
Keeping cool at July Fiestas in Puerto de la Cruz

I’m writing this from a hilltop in Portugal, a country we hadn’t visited until a couple of years ago because when we were looking for a hot break from Britain, weather charts showing a May/June average of 68F just didn’t sound hot enough. A couple of days ago, by the time we completed the 1.5km walk into the nearest village we’d almost expired. The temperature was in the mid 20sC. All those years ago we got it wrong simply because we didn’t understand what weather readings actually meant.

Instead, year after year in June we plumped for a Greek Island where the average weather was around 78F (25C), a figure which sounded far more attractive to us sunseekers.

Elafonisi, Crete, Greece
Elafonisi Beach on Crete

The Greek sun is fierce, it feels far more fierce than the Canary Islands’ sun. That might sound strange, but having recently spent three weeks under it on Crete, when on paper temperatures were more or less on a par, I stand by that claim. The sun sits higher in the sky for longer, meaning shade is a rarity. On our first visit to a Greek Island, Zakynthos, one May many moons ago, we set a 15min limit on sunbathing on any one side. We rarely lasted 5mins before having to turn to give relief to searing flesh. Yet in the shade it was goosepimple-raising cool. On our recent visit we walked through the Samaria Gorge, thankfully plenty of shade, to arrive at lunchtime in a coastal village. By mid afternoon everyone else who’d walked through the gorge arrived in the same village. As the only ferry didn’t depart till 5.30pm, most people headed for the beach. By the time there was still an hour before the ferry left, most had fled the beach and were desperately seeking shade, us included. Covered tavernas were packed out, people hugged the shadows provided by small trucks, others huddled in the flimsy shade provided by oleander bushes. You don’t see that sort of behaviour in the Canaries. And this was only early May.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid
Cafe’s with ‘spray’ umbrellas in Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Last year circumstance deposited us in Madrid in July. It was blisteringly hot. So hot that bars and restaurants had sprinkler systems set up inside umbrellas, spraying customers with a fine mist in an attempt to cool them down. Even stepping outside our air-conditioned hotel at 11pm was like stepping into a sauna. It wasn’t pleasant.

But what does all these other places have to do with temperatures on Tenerife?

25C is a perfect temperature, that’s what.

July Fiestas in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
A different way of keeping cool in Puerto de la Cruz

In summer months I sit sweltering in my house, between Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava, hoping the machine which keeps my laptop cool enough to continue working is up to the job. Sometimes it isn’t and the laptop shuts itself down, gasping. At night we kick off the one sheet, dreaming (whilst awake) of the months when the temperature drops enough to make the bed cosy again. Manual work is exhausting and draining, and anything to do with going on to the roof to carry out repairs is feared.

It’s the reality of living somewhere summer temperatures are between 25C and 30C.

Clearly there’s a massive difference between living and working in those sort of temperatures than being on holiday and simply sunbathing and soaking them up. Which is why the mainland Spanish in their thousands descend on Puerto de la Cruz. Historically the town is one of the top summer destinations for Spanish who escape the oppressive heat of the mainland (see the bit about Madrid) for the ‘perfect climate’ of the Canaries. Ironically at the same time as thousands of British holidaymakers head to Spain.

Playa Jardin in summer, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
Spanish mainlanders on Playa Jardin in summer, Puerto de la Cruz

Anyone who considers 25-30C as being not too hot, is giving away they have no idea what 25-30C really feels like.

Partly this is because of people ‘bigging up’ temperatures, which can affect perceptions and distort the reality of the weather on Tenerife. On a regular basis the Spanish Met Office releases information about the hottest, wettest, windiest etc. places in the Canary Islands during particular months, seasons. Last year their records showed temperatures for August as being in the high 20s with occasional heatwaves pushing them to mid 30sC, resulting in weather alerts being raised.

Think about this piece of information – the authorities believe temperatures of above 31C to be potentially dangerous. And they are right. People have died because they ignored hot weather alerts.

In a nutshell, 30C is too hot, but 25/26C is a nice hot… a perfect temperature.

Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+

5 Comments

  1. Hi very good post.
    I stayed at the riu garoe in Puerto a couple of years ago in late July and for me the
    Weather is perfect. Was in Majorca same time before and found it terribly humid.
    Will be returning to the garoe in September this year hopefully as I like the temp
    In northern Tenerife.

    • Our favourite month of the year for weather. Over the course of nearly 14 years it’s been perfect weather in the north during September.

  2. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are only able to take holiday in the second & third weeks of August. My parents have a villa in Cyprus, near Pernera(sp?), which I have never visited, because the temperature would be too high for my wife and kids, and probably me too.

    I’m coming back to Tenerife for the first time in nearly ten years this August, but I agree with you about the moving about – I’ve had temperatures of 25C+ in past years while on walking holidays in Austria, and it becomes unfunny very quickly!

    Hottest ever temperature – 2002, in Bozen (Bolzano), Italy. On a daytrip from Austria, we set off in mist & cloud, at six in the morning. Lunch time, second stop (first was a short stop in Vipiteno/Sterzing) was in Merano, and temperature had already hit 28C. By the time we got to Bozen at around 2pm, the temperature was close to 40C, and it was a really dry heat. I literally felt like I was baking, and breathing was uncomfortable.

    If someone wants to literally cook themselves, they can find somewhere to do it. I agree with you that a 25C heat is more than enough…

  3. I lived in inland Almeria in a small village at a fairly high altitude.
    Summer temps could climb to 40C and you begin to understand why traditional houses have walls a good 3ft think and there are many cave houses.
    Schools would close at 12 and any business that had anything to do with labour closed for August.that and the real reason for siestas became assistant!
    The canaries can be deceptive though, as there’s usually a good breeze it’s easy to spend too much time in the sun without realising how much you’ve fried! It’s a main reason we keep coming back, the heat is very different than on the mainland.

    • We’ve just spent the summer in Alentejo Portugal and know exactly what you’re talking about. There’s a very good reason the islands are known for having an almost perfect climate 🙂

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