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