What it means to get high on Tenerife

Just over a decade ago I set up a Tripadvisor account for one specific reason. I was tired of the amount of misinformation about Tenerife being posted on the travel site, especially in relation to the differences between the weather in the south of the island and the north. A 10C variation in temperatures between the two sides of the island was regularly being quoted.

La Laguna and Tenerife Norte Airport, Tenerife
La Laguna and Tenerife Norte Airport at 600m above sea level…

It wasn’t that anybody was being deliberately misleading (at least I don’t think so) it was simply that many people didn’t understand how to interpret the weather information they were using for readings. The reading for the south was taken at Tenerife Sur Airport whereas the reading for the north was taken at Tenerife Norte. One is almost at sea level, the other is at 600m above sea level. If that piece of information has you automatically thinking to yourself “Ah, I see why there’s a problem using those to compare temperatures” then the rest of this is going to be a case of teaching grannie to suck eggs. If, on the other hand, you think “so what?” then there’s something you need to know about what it means to get high on Tenerife.

Walking near Tenerife Sur, Tenerife
… and beside Tenerife South Airport, at sea level.

Temperatures drop the higher up the hillside you go.

In the last week I’ve read two travel articles/blogs which compared the south coast to locations in the northern hills where the difference in temperatures/weather conditions came as a shock to the authors. It’s crazy to compare the beaches of the south with the rainforest in Anaga, unless in order to illustrate the need to dress accordingly when heading into the hills.

Walking in Anaga, Tenerife
Walking in Anaga, anything up to around 1000m above sea level.

Going back to airport comparisons for a moment. As I write this there is a predicted high of 27C at Tenerife Sur whereas Tenerife Norte is 21C. However, the prediction for the north coast is 25C. A two degree difference rather than a six degree one. In winter those differences between coast and hills will become more pronounced.

Costa Adeje coastline, Tenerife
And the south coast at… err, sea level.

The fact that it gets colder the higher the altitude might seem obvious, but people get caught out all the time. We did, on our very first Tenerife writing commission back in 2004. It involved staying at one of the southern hill towns where, on a fresh April morning, the temperature was far more nippy than we’d been led to believe.

Granadilla de Abona, February, Tenerife
The southern hill town of Granadilla de Abona in February.

Andy’s dad had an apartment in Playa de la Arena and was shocked and shivering the first time he rolled up wearing shorts, sandals, and a tee-shirt to pay some bills in the area’s administrative centre of Guia de Isora on a grey February day. Lying at just under 600m, the town was quite a bit cooler than the weather he’d been enjoying at the coast.

Selfies in Teide National Park, Tenerife
Notice how the locals taking selfies are dressed compared to the visitors behind them. And those visitors are dressed sensibly compared to many.

The most obvious examples of people not understanding how temperatures drop with altitude can been seen every day in Teide National Park where excursionist dressed more for the beach than a visit to Spain’s highest mountain are regularly caught out by cool temperatures. The worst (best) we saw was during a sunset and tapas trip one November when a scantily clad family turned up at dusk hoping to head up to the peak on the cable car. It was so cold the folk who organised the trip were handing out extra fleeces to those on it, who were already appropriately dressed for the cold. Needless to say, the inappropriately dressed family didn’t hang around long.

MountTeide from the Parador, Teide National Park, Tenerife
The sun might be out but it gets very nippy up there.

Earlier I mentioned the predicted temperature at the south coast on the day I wrote this was 27C, at the tip of Teide it was predicted to drop as low as -5C during the day.

It doesn’t matter where you are on Tenerife, outside of summer temperatures can get significantly cooler when you climb away from sea level. It makes sense to be prepared.

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+

6 Comments

  1. I’m up in the Caldera at all times of the year doing astrophotography, always have extra clothes in the car, would like to have a euro for everyone I see in the evening in shorts and tee shirts shivering, once the sun goes down

  2. the only thing i don’t like about tenerife is the traffic in the south i do lots of driving ,i come every christmas to iberostar las dalias for 24 days and love it,the people are all very friendly ,i do lots of sea fishing of the banks so i travel all way around the island im 72 so at my age i like to go places that i love .
    have a nice day graham

    • Yes, the southern traffic has become quite a problem in recent years. Too much development without the infrastructure to back it up. It used to be only a real problem with commuter traffic along the north coast into La Laguna and the capital. Now there are a couple of traffic black spots. Thankfully the old roads remain free of heavy traffic.

  3. Hi Jack, Your posts are always so interesting. Thank you for publishing. Your depth of knowledge about Tenerife is impressive.

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