Perceptions of summer on Tenerife

The Midsummer’s Eve San Juan beach parties on Tenerife act as the green light for summer to start in earnest. From that point there’s a noticeable change in atmosphere. On an island known as being a holiday destination for visitors from across Europe and beyond, there’s suddenly a feeling that even the locals are on a summer holiday… one which lasts until September.

San Juan beach party, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

How obvious and dramatic this change is depends, like so many aspects of island life, on where you are on Tenerife.

I recently read a UK broadsheet review of a hotel in Costa Adeje which described it as being more popular with guests aged over 50 as they had made up the majority of the hotel’s clientele during the writer’s visit. It was an assumption based on a stay which took place during the winter months. Many of the island’s hotels, and resorts, have different personalities in winter and summer and this hotel was no different. We’d stayed at it in July when the age range of guests covered a much broader span. It’s a mistake to make a judgement based on one visit to any destination at a particular time of year. Yet it’s a common one.

Summer, Playa del Duque, Costa Adeje, Tenerife

Understandably, people’s impressions of anywhere are based on personal experiences. But if they only visit that place at the same time every year, they’ll only ever get the same slice of a personality which changes with the seasons. Puerto de la Cruz is a prime example. In Britain it has a reputation as a resort for older holidaymakers (the mixed ages and leisure patterns of the local Canarian population seem always to get overlooked). The Rough Guide we bought when we first visited Tenerife described these ‘more mature’ visitors as “pottering happily there”. You’ve heard it here first – the latest Rough Guide to Tenerife (due out later this year) won’t include such an entry.

Sardinada, July fiestas, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

Yet Puerto de la Cruz is one of the favourite summer holiday destinations for Spanish mainlanders, the top one according to a Spanish travel site a couple of years ago. It positively buzzes during summer months when, like many other traditional towns, there are events aimed at all ages, ranging from traditional fiestas to music festivals. What amazes me is when people who say they’ve visited Puerto in summer still describe it as being full of mature visitors with not much for anyone under a certain age to enjoy. You’d have to go out of your way to come to such a conclusion… or maybe not go out at all.

Phe music festival, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

It’s not just Puerto whose personality changes. Although the transformation isn’t quite as pronounced as in more traditional towns, aspects of some resorts are affected as well. A friend of a friend who lived in Playa de la Arena didn’t like summer because of the numbers of Spanish who descended on the resort. It’s an ironic viewpoint when you think about it, but I appreciated for them it changed the personality of the place they’d chosen to stay in a way that didn’t appeal.

Coastal villages on the south east which are little more than ghost towns for much of the year explode into life in summer. Normally shuttered windows of their houses are flung open by Canarios taking up residence from not only other parts of Tenerife but other islands as well.

Punta del Hidalgo, summer, Tenerife

It’s not just the south east coast. There are Tenerife coastal villages on the north coast I never, ever see mentioned in English language travel articles where tiny harbours and sunbathing decks are packed to capacity over summer. Some are relatively easy to find, others are hidden in the folds of the rocky coastline. Exploring a potential coastal path one time, we stumbled across one of these, a place we hadn’t known existed. The atmosphere was electric with a fun, family friendly feel. They are like the Canarian versions of Brigadoon, except they spring into life during summer every year instead of for a day once a century.

All over the island beaches are filled with a sea of colourful umbrellas during the day and used as open air cinemas at sundown. In towns, plazas and car parks become concert venues whilst waste-grounds near the sea become filled with camper vans.

July fiestas, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

In a nutshell, summer on Tenerife is a very different place from winter on Tenerife. But not everyone is aware of that.

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+

3 Comments

  1. Agree with you, Jack, that Puerto in early June has a very different vibe than at Christmas- New Year. Not sure I can out any finger on what made it different. In general, though, there was simply more going on: Romerias in Puerto (rather pathetic) and La Orotave (mind-blowing); the flower and sand-carpets (all mind-blowing); even watching the Bluetrail race.

    • We went to the Puerto Romeria once, not what the town does best. Have you been to the one in La Orotava on the Sunday following the Corpus Christi carpets? Now that’s a proper romeria 🙂

      • I was at both this year, Jack. The contrast was indeed something. I watched the La Orotava one for ~3 hours before wandering away and the parade still wasn’t over. I didn’t stay into the evening and can only imagine what a party it was.

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