You’d think that a place like Tenerife would be blessed with picturesque fishing harbours but there are surprisingly few that I’d term truly picturesque.
Before anyone starts quoting Los Abrigos and La Caleta, it all depends on what you believe constitutes a picturesque fishing harbour.
For me a picturesque harbour would have to include brightly coloured fishing boats bobbing in the harbour waters; nets laid out to dry in the sun, a few grizzled fisherman shooting the breeze, maybe a harbour-side fish stall and definitely a harbour setting that was actually picturesque. Basically the sort of image that you find on a zillion postcards…of the Greek Islands.
Most of Tenerife’s fishing community can come up with some of these, but where most fail is the picturesque harbour setting. This is for two reasons. Many of Tenerife’s harbours have a long concrete arm that is about as attractive as a house’s featureless gable end. The second is that the houses lining most are usually modern breeze-block affairs, not quaint little fishermen’s cottages.
Some towns have prettified their harbour walls with murals like Los Cristianos or funky sculpture work as is the case with Puertito de Güímar. But there’s no getting away from those featureless concrete walls. I always thought of Los Abrigos as quite pretty until I had to photograph it and found that there weren’t that many angles that you could take a shot without getting a not very attractive breeze block building in the frame. La Caleta is a bit more picturesque but that’s more to do with the location – as long as you’re facing west. Some of the smaller fishing villages away from the resorts are more attractive; Tajao on the east coast is one of the nicest.
I also like Playa San Juan and Alcalá but they don’t come close to Greek standards and maybe that’s the problem. I’ve visited a number of Greek Islands with outstanding picture postcard harbours over the years and for me they represent the quintessentially perfect fishing harbour scene.
Age is another issue. A lot of harbours just don’t look as though they’ve been around that long and I like my fishing harbours to have a sense of history. I’m sure Garachico would have been up there had the port not been destroyed way back in 1706. Garachico is in the process of building another port…and another long concrete arm will see the light of day on Tenerife.
But all this doesn’t mean that Tenerife’s harbours aren’t pleasant places to spend time. The best still have that particularly appealing salty sea dog charm as well as bobbing boats etc. And there are a few that do offer something more than the norm.
My Favourite Harbours on Tenerife
I’m not the biggest fan of Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo but between them lies one of my favourite harbours on Tenerife. It’s tiny and the harbour walls are built on to the rock giving it a more natural look, it’s also cobbled with stones the same colour as the rocks around it. It looks as though it’s been around for a long time…and fishermen batter the hell out of eels on its little jetty which, perverse though it may sounds, adds an essential authentic touch.
The cottages on the fishermen’s rock at El Pris aren’t attractive, but it’s such an unusual location and there’s even an abstract modern art sculpture sharing the rock with them that it appeals for its curiosity value. It is different and that in itself makes it worthwhile – plus they sell damn good camarones in the village.
But my favourite fishing harbour on Tenerife by a mile is Puerto de la Cruz. There is simply no other like it. Cobbled stones; attractively old looking curved walls that overlap at the harbour entrance; a statue by Julio Nieto at it’s head, not only a fort with cannon but an old customs house that turns golden in the evening sun; fish restaurants and stalls; fishermen galore who break into impromptu song in the early morning; old guys playing cards and selling plants and nets and colourful bobbing boats. Perfect in many ways…as long as you face away from the apartment blocks of the town.
Like I said, Tenerife has some very atmospheric fishing harbours with appealing qualities, but being picture postcard pretty isn’t always one of them.