When potential visitors pose this query it can invariably be translated as questioning the difference between the three resorts of Playa de las Américas, Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos and the only decent sized resort in the north, Puerto de la Cruz.
So, for the purpose of this exercise, these are the areas I’m referring to when pitting the south and north of Tenerife head to head in ten categories.
Weather on Tenerife
We’ve covered this in depth many times but the bottom line is that the south of Tenerife is sunnier and drier than the north. People get silly about this topic and overlook the fact that it is all relative but anyone who’s interested in only getting a sun tan and nothing else should head south.
South 1, North 0
Hotels on Tenerife
Whilst there are some very good hotels in the north of Tenerife and some with character and a family feel, they really can’t match the newer luxury hotels in the south’s most recent resort developments from Fañabe to El Duque in Costa Adeje. There’s no real competition in this category. If a plush hotel is your number one thing when choosing a destination, the south it is.
South 2, North 0
Restaurants on Tenerife
The southern resorts boast an endless choice of restaurants. But where do top chefs and even Spanish royalty head to when they’re on Tenerife? The north. The irony is that glossy books in some hotel rooms in the south list Tenerife’s top restaurants and very few included are anywhere near the southern resort areas. Apart from quality of food, it’s difficult for the newer resorts to compete with quaint restaurants located in the courtyards of colonial buildings or around historic plazas. It’s a knockout for the north in this category.
South 2, North 1
Scenery on Tenerife
The north wipes the floor with the south on this one as well. The northern green scene is just more aesthetically pleasing and the supreme bulk of Mount Teide, anonymous from southern resorts, adds a truly unique and world-beating aspect to the backdrop above Puerto de la Cruz. If luscious landscapes are your thing, head north.
South 2, North 2
Beaches on Tenerife
Tenerife doesn’t boast exotic beaches. But the strip from La Caleta in Costa Adeje to Los Cristianos offers man made beach after man made beach with golden-ish sand and all the amenities sunseekers need. Puerto de la Cruz, on the other hand has the black sand Playa Jardín and a couple of other small beaches as well as the trio of black beauties at Playa Bollullo (some of my personal faves on Tenerife). But a lot of people aren’t keen on black sand and golden beaches simply look better. If a golden beach is your queen, the south it is.
South 3, North 2
Activities on Tenerife
This depends on different preferences. The south has many activities designed purely for the pleasure of mainstream tourists – water sports, boat trips, theme parks etc. Whereas although the north has a couple of theme parks, the activities are more cultural and natural with art galleries, museums, historic corners, theatres, parks and gardens. I’m calling this one a draw. When people say there is nothing to do in either north or south, they actually mean – there’s nothing to do that suits me. Not the same thing at all.
South 4, North 3
Traditions on Tenerife
The southern resorts are purpose built. The most authentic town of the three is Los Cristianos, but even as little as 50 years ago that was little more than a tiny fishing community where some people still lived in caves. The northern towns had been thriving and developing a sense of community and subsequently traditions for centuries. There’s a massive gap in this category. In the north every fiesta is held for the Canarios first and foremost. In the south, with a couple of exceptions, many traditional themed events are put on for the benefit of the tourists.
South 4, North 4
Nightlife on Tenerife
Just about every bar and club in Tenerife’s south offers live acts and even restaurants seem to be under the impression that diners need to be entertained when they eat. These pubs don’t exist in the same numbers in the north, although there are plenty of clubs, bars and outdoor free festivals. But as well as numbers – Puerto de la Cruz cannot compete with the sheer scale of the trio of southern tourist resorts – the main difference is that bars in the south cater for British tastes and the best ones in Puerto cater for the local scene. If familiar sounds equate to offering a better nightlife, the south wins hands down… but if experiencing the local scene is more important, then it’s a different story. On the basis of choice though, the south wins.
South 5, North 4
Recently I spent a couple of nights at a hotel in the south of Tenerife that was popular with families. People rarely strayed from poolside and children spent the whole day messing around in the water. The bottom line is that with warm weather and access to a pool or the sea, you’ve got the perfect bank-account friendly ingredients to keep children happy as Larry for the whole holiday. Both south and north deliver this – a draw.
South 6, North 5
So the south wins overall by a nose. There are more tourist amenities in the south and the weather (in terms of sunshine) is better. But if it’s scenery, restaurants, traditions and culture, then the north is the better option.
Ultimately the south and north of Tenerife have contrasting personalities and qualities and subsequently will appeal to people with varying tastes. The real answer to which is best will depend on your preferences… and only you know what those are.