Choosing the right resort or town on the north coast of Tenerife

Previously we took a bite-sized look at resorts/towns on the south and south west coast of Tenerife. This time we turn our attention to the north coast where many towns aren’t quite so well known to the majority of visitors to the island. It’s easy to pick somewhere which really might not suit if looking for a typical holiday resort or, alternatively, overlook an interesting traditional town if seeking a real Tenerife experience.

Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

First, let’s talk briefly about the weather. You can tell when anyone doesn’t understand the island’s weather when they talk about ‘weather in the north’ as though everywhere experiences the same weather. There are significant variations in weather patterns from the north west of the island to the north east, and that’s just at coast level. But without going into great detail, I’ll say what I always say – Tenerife is a subtropical island; the weather is good across the island all year round. If sun and beach is the main priority, then the south and south west are the areas to go. If, however, visitors want to experience the parts of Tenerife where most Canarios have historically set up home, then it’s worth taking a closer look at towns along the north coast.

Resort and towns along the north coast of Tenerife

Bajamar

Bajamar, Tenerife
Our view
Like its neighbour Punta del Hidalgo, Bajamar in the north east is a town which is at its best in summer months when Laguneros and Spanish bring it bursting to life. A fishing community gives it a traditional personality throughout the year and despite the town itself not being particularly pleasing to the eye, it has a rather snazzy promenade. It’s also located in one of the sunniest parts of the north.
What the holiday companies say: It has a long promenade and a network of streets to the rear, all lined with the usual medley of bars, restaurants and shops.
Restaurants
There’s are enough restaurants to provide variety over a week or so, a couple are very good. Like its neighbour, it’s good for trying local fish and seafood.
Nightlife
You won’t find the conventional resort bar scene, but there are quite a lot of traditional and quirky events in Bajamar throughout the year.
Beaches
There’s a lovely little beach protected by an attractive harbour wall, plus Bajamar has a great seawater pool with views of the Anaga mountains.

Buenavista del Norte

Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
Our view
It’s called Buenavista because Isla Baja in the far north west is a beautiful part of Tenerife – both coastline and the Teno Mountains adding their dramatic good looks to the scene. Buenavista del Norte itself has a picturesque, historic centre with a plaza lined by a handful of trad bars and restaurants and an attractive church. This is not a destination for anyone looking for familiarity and it’s a long way from either airport, which for some is part of its ‘get away from it all’ charm.
What the holiday companies say: Rather than bar-lined strips and high-rise hotels, you can expect charming villages, traditional craft shops and 18th-century architecture.
Restaurants
Although near the town you’ll find El Burgado, one of the best looking coastal restaurants on Tenerife, the handful of restaurants in the town exist for the local population and are good for trying local fare. None are particularly outstanding. The town, however, is the location of the most famous cake makers on the island, El Aderno.
Beaches
Coastal paths lead in both directions to rocky coves and seawater pools. Best is to the west, beyond the town’s golf course. In winter there’s no beach to speak off, but in summer the sand re-appears along with the locals who fill it.
Nightlife
There are some excellent fiestas in Buenavista del Norte, but don’t go expecting any semblance of nightlife. The nearby Hotel Hacienda del Conde does have a great bar though.

El Pris

El Pris, Tenerife
Not a place I’d choose to stay, but I like to visit. This is a small fishing village on the coast below the cliffs. Its standout feature is a rock jutting out into the sea which is covered in fishermen’s houses.
What the holiday companies say: Nothing.
Restaurants
There are a handful of very local restaurants specialising in camarones – plates of shrimps in their shells.
Nightlife
Make a guess.
Beaches
There are some rough, stony stretches but, like many northern coastal communities, El Pris does have a pretty decent sea pool.

El Sauzal

El Sauzal, Tenerife
Our view
One of our favourite northern towns, El Sauzal is steeped in history but has slipped off the modern tourist trail. Most people who visit only make it as far as the wine museum near the motorway. It’s very much a traditional working town with some historic parts and wouldn’t suit a lot of visitors. But for anyone wanting to experience a real slice of island life, there’s quite a lot to discover hereabouts.
What the holiday companies say: El Sauzal is a small town nestled in the cliffs towering above the North West coastline of Tenerife.
Restaurants
El Sauzal punches above its weight when it comes to restaurants, there are some crackers in the town and nearby. Most eye-catching is the Terrazas del Sauzal which has a creative menu and ‘wow’ views of Mount Teide, about as good as you get. There’s a vibrant gastronomic scene in this part of Tenerife, ideal for those with a taste for experiencing the best in local cuisine.
Nightlife
Again, like most traditional towns, liveliest when there’s a fiesta or festival going on, which happens a lot. El Sauzal also has a theatre.
Beaches
El Sauzal is on a clifftop, therefore no beaches.

Garachico

Garachico, Tenerife
Our view
If you’re looking for a charmer of a historic town on the coast to stay, then Garachico is better than anywhere else in the Canary Islands in our view. It also has the best boutique hotels. Day trippers flock to it because of its pretty streets and unusual lava pools. After dark you get it all to yourself and the locals.
What the holiday companies say: Garachico is a well preserved village and has some interesting areas to explore. There is a lovely little church square and a fascinating history.
Restaurants
In recent years the restaurant scene has improved. We once felt it wasn’t great thanks to the guaranteed day tripper scene which meant restaurants didn’t try too hard. But now there are some really excellent restaurants ranging from traditional and creative to one of the best pizzerias on Tenerife.
Nightlife
Traditional and can be quiet – on the other hand we’ve been to Hell’s Angels festivals there and also watched fireballs being flung off the cliffs above the town.
Beaches
A huge attraction is the sea pools in the lava strewn coast. But there is also a heart-shaped beach beside the harbour.

La Quinta

La Quinta, Tenerife
Our view
When people talk about staying in Santa Ursula often they mean La Quinta on the other side of the TF5 from the traditional northern hilltown. La Quinta itself isn’t a town, it’s a housing development with some tourist accommodation and a couple of shops. Although in a scenic location and with a couple of interesting quirks, there’s really not a lot to La Quinta and subsequently we’re not big fans.
What the holiday companies say: Captivating and historical, the town is favoured by holidaymakers who enjoy the simpler things in life.
Restaurants
There are one or two traditional places to eat but most restaurants are a trek away on the other side of the TF5.
Nightlife
What you’d expect of a housing development.
Beaches
La Quinta is located on top of the cliffs, no beaches.

La Romantica

La Romantica, Tenerife
Our view
You very rarely hear anyone mention La Romantica, a coastal barrio in Los Realejos. The name makes it sound it like a destination for dreamy-eyed couples, it’s not. It’s a modern development that is mostly residential but which has a few places to stay. It’s actually in a decent location for exploring the coast on foot and the centre is quite bustling, but it doesn’t have a lot of charm.
What the holiday companies say: Nothing.
Restaurants
Quite a few good and interesting traditional restaurants within walking distance.
Nightlife
Aimed at locals, with one of the hotels in the area occasionally hosting quite interesting events like an annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival.
Beaches
The coastline around this area is packed with interest, and a couple of cove type beaches.

Los Silos

Los Silos, Tenerife
Our view
Los Silos is a quiet charmer of a traditional town overlooked by many. The picturesque historic centre is slightly inland from the coastal area of the town and isn’t as attractive, although the coastline itself is full of fascinating quirks, like a skeleton of a whale. It’s a good base for anyone wanting to explore in depth the historic and natural parts of Isla Baja.
What the holiday companies say: Situated in the fertile north-western region of Tenerife creates an ideal setting for those seeking vacation in somewhat exotic and exciting location.
Restaurants
Restaurants can be a weak point in Los Silos. There are a handful of traditional ones and occasionally a good one opens, but it doesn’t seem to last for long.
Nightlife
Mostly quiet and occasionally Bohemian. The town hosts an annual storytelling festival as well as a neo-hippy festival in honour of the sea.
Beaches
There are rocky coves and a small swimming pool complex, but not a choice for any wanting a beach holiday.

Mesa del Mar

Mesa del Mar and El Pris, Tenerife
Our view
Mesa del Mar is in a super location with views along the coast to Mount Teide. But the whole place is ruined by an eyesore of a high rise building which juts out into the sea. Why it still exists when traditional fishing villages have been torn down because they’re in contravention of the Ley de Costas is a mystery.  You might have guessed by now that we don’t like it.
What the holiday companies say: Nothing.
Restaurants
There are a couple of places, but we have never eaten there so can’t say whether they are okay or not.
Beaches
Mesa del Mar’s saving grace is that a tunnel in the rock which blots out the horror building leads to a decent-sized black sand beach. There’s also a good sunbathing deck, but it’s on the ‘wrong’ side of the tunnel.
Nightlife
Forget it.

Puerto de la Cruz

Harbour, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
Our view
We’re biased as we chose it as the place to live on Tenerife, but Puerto de la Cruz is a great example of a traditional town which is also a tourist resort – which means you get the facilities of a resort and the personality of a bustling Canarian town. The older part of town has plazas, churches and old streets whilst the newer part has most hotels, promenades and the Costa Martiánez swimming pool complex. I wouldn’t recommend Puerto de la Cruz to anyone purely seeking a beach holiday. Not because of the weather, which we think is ideal, but because it’s a place more suited to those who want to enjoy a taste of Canarian life. The most successful combination of trad town and holiday resort on Tenerife… but that’s clearly our view.
What the holiday companies say: There’s a lovely traditional feel to the place, with its quaint harbour and pretty old town, yet it does sophistication very well, too.
Restaurants
There are around 300 restaurants to choose from. Puerto has a diverse gastronomic scene with some stand-out traditional and contemporary Canarian restaurants.
Nightlife
Anyone looking for familiar sounds in a bar surrounded by fellow Brits will find their choice limited. There is a lively nocturnal local scene both in bars and outdoors, but you have to move to the local beat to enjoy it.
Beaches
The town is bookended by black sand beaches – the surfers’ Playa Martiánez on the eastern end of the town and the long Playa Jardín on the western edge. In between are a couple of sheltered stone beaches as well as the huge Costa Martiánez complex.

Punta del Hidalgo

Punta del Hidalgo, Tenerife
Our view
See the entry for Bajamar as the same more or less applies to Punta del Hidalgo, even down to it having a nice promenade to stroll along. It’s a good base for exploring Anaga as you can walk right into the heart of the mountains from the town.
What the holiday companies say: The sea surrounds us in Punta del Hidalgo – the small, advanced headland in an almost forgotten corner of the island of Tenerife.
Restaurants
The promenade has a choice of some very good fish and seafood restaurants.
Nightlife
Another low key destination. Livelier in summer months.
Beaches
Not much sand around but that doesn’t stop locals from packing the rocky coastline during summer. There are a few small natural sea pools and a good man-made one in the centre of the town.

San Marcos

San Marcos, Tenerife
Our view
Located in a sheltered bay below Icod de los Vinos, San Marcos could be a good little low-key coastal resort. But with its 80s style buildings, it’s a bit outdated looking. Nice location though.
What the holiday companies say: On a Playa de San Marcos holiday travellers can expect to enjoy relative tranquillity, a wide range of activities and have easy access to the major sights on the island.
Restaurants
For a small town there’s a decent selection of fish and seafood restaurants.
Nightlife
Mostly relaxed with various fiestas during the year adding a bit of fizz to the after dark scene.
Beaches
Its main attraction is its sheltered sandy beach.

San Juan de la Rambla

San Juan de la Rambla, Tenerife
Our view
We like San Juan de la Rambla, it’s one of those historic northern coastal towns with a quite picturesque old centre. But it never seems to be able to achieve its full potential and perpetually remains the forgotten bridesmaid. It looked great in the Fast and Furious film, but still it tends to get mostly ignored.
What the holiday companies say: Nothing.
Restaurants
People come from miles around to eat at one of the restaurants in the lower part of town, Las Aguas, known especially for their seafood rice dishes.
Nightlife
Like nearly all the small traditional towns, quiet until there’s a fiesta.
Beaches
There’s a magical little sea pool on one side of the town and a rocky beach at Las Aguas.

More bite-sized descriptions of Tenerife’s towns and resorts for the east and south east of the island will be coming soon.

Our Real Tenerife guidebook features a far more detailed overview of many of the Tenerife’s towns and resorts mentioned here, including history, beaches, attractions and restaurant and hotel recommendations.

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+

About Jack 475 Articles
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+

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