We’ve lived on Tenerife for more than a dozen years and no two have been the same. In fact no two months have been the same. We’ve notched up a lot of experiences during our time on Tenerife but still have a tick list of things we want to do.
In 2016 a lot of the year was spent exploring different shores, even so we enjoyed yet another interesting year full of new experiences.
These are our highlights of 2016 on Tenerife, including the best meals we scoffed.
January on Tenerife
Best Experience: The year started with a real buzz as we were tasked with showing a filmmaker a different side to Tenerife. We perched on mountain trails, talked our way into cave houses in Anaga, interviewed the owner at Monje Bodega, got blessed at a fiesta in Buenavista del Norte and posed in the volcanic, other-worldly vistas of Teide National Park. The resulting short film exceeded expectations.
Best meal: After a walk in the forest above Agua Garcia, we undid all the good work by dropping into Tacoa in El Sauzal for a metre long sausage, a montaña of fried potatoes and some of their own artisan ales. The owner didn’t think I’d eat the whole sausage. He was wrong.
February on Tenerife
Best Experience: Carnival on Tenerife is always a blast, especially when enjoyed with friends and dressed up in ridiculous costumes watching the night disappear down a surreal rabbit hole at a carnival street party. Appropriately, considering they look as though they could be in fancy dress, one of the most magical moments of the month was provided by a brace of Barbary partridges who appeared at our gate.
Best meal: Menus del día on Tenerife don’t necessarily have to involve basic, traditional fare. An afternoon spent digesting the surroundings and an inventive three course menu del día at Mag Café Bistro, tucked into the sleek skirts of the Tenerife Auditorium in Santa Cruz, was a culinary highlight.
March on Tenerife
Best Experience: Much of the month was spent laying down the foundations for two new slow travel/walking holidays on La Palma with our friends at Inntravel. At the end of our La Palma trip we showed their Spain/Portugal manager one of our favourite walks on Tenerife; around the Teno Mountains. When someone who has walked all over the world proclaimed a route as being ‘almost the perfect walk’ it confirmed what we already knew – it’s a cracker of a route.
Best meal: Vegetarian El Maná in Puerto de la Cruz is always reliable. Not one of our group was vegetarian, but the food was given a big thumbs up all round, especially savoury little empanadas (pies) drizzled with honey.
April on Tenerife
Best Experience: We have no connection with the Tenerife Walking Festival but are always happy to promote it. We popped down to the closing party (open to everyone) and were glad to sea that despite the weather not being great during the week, the atmosphere was buzzing and everyone we spoke to had been blown away by their experiences. It was especially satisfying when one person we randomly got speaking to remarked “I’m only here because of you.” Turned out he was a fan of our website and had booked to come on the festival after reading about the diversity of walking on the island on it. Those sort of things really make it all worthwhile. The band at the party, 101 Brass Band, were excellent and worth checking out.
Best meal: Staying at the La Casona del Patio in Santiago del Teide could also have been our best experience as we love the hotel and the area around it. The food was above average, dinner included some of the best homemade croquetas we’ve eaten this year.
May on Tenerife
Best Experience: My mum visited, any time spent with her is clearly going to be the best experience of the month. She’s 85 so we decided not to do too much – we only visited La Orotava and Icod de los Vinos as well as taking her on two walks along the coastal path at Buenavista del Norte and from Puerto de la Cruz to Playa Bollullo. She’s a very young 85 so ‘not doing too much’ is relative. Best was taking her to Mueca, art in the street festival in Puerto de la Cruz, the highlight of which was Luis Stinga’s noble Minotaur lording it over the Ranilla District.
Best meal: It seems unfair to pick a best for April as we had a few tasty meals. Topping them all was El Taller Seve Dias, considered one of the best restaurants on the island. After sampling an exquisitely good salmon in poppy seeds with El Hierro pineapples I’d go along with that.
June on Tenerife
Best Experience: June was another month where we spent most of it elsewhere, in this case Corsica which was a complete revelation. Subsequently Tenerife experiences were lacking so I’m lumping the best experience in with the best meal of the month. Another of Tenerife’s most talented young chefs opened a restaurant near us in 2016, Restaurant Haydee, in La Orotava. They’d been open for a couple of months before we managed to make the 10 minute walk to this charming restaurant set in and around three old agricultural buildings. From the moment I wrapped my mouth around a starter dish of Canarian black pig in a soft Chinese bao bun I knew we’d be regular customers.
July on Tenerife
Best Experience: The July Fiestas in Puerto de la Cruz usually provide the best and occasionally some of the wildest experiences of the year, especially during the Día de la Embarcación. This year the Heineken Jazz Festival was back with a bang. Two of the artists, Americans Jose James and Carolyn Wonderland, turned in exceptional hi-energy sets making it our musical pick of the year.
Best meal: Another month where it doesn’t seem fair to choose a best meal as there were some top notch dinners. But Michelin Star restaurant Kazaan in Santa Cruz lived up to the ‘star’ billing and served a taster menu of creative Japanese fare that made a birthday meal extra special.
August on Tenerife
Best Experience: Friends having to cancel a visit meant we ended up with two unexpected tickets to the Phe Festival in Puerto de la Cruz. On a sultry summer evening we revelled in a side of Puerto de la Cruz that some winter visitors don’t experience – young, bohemian, vibrant – and which many visitors to the south don’t know exists. The night was spent eating gourmet junk food such as Argentinian empanadas from retro food trucks whilst listening to top Spanish bands, including Gran Canaria’s Red Beard who performed a stonking version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues.
Best meal: The Hotel Hacienda del Conde was an extremely pleasant surprise all round and boasted the best bar we’ve been in this year, designed to look like a rather stylish church. The food nudged Michelin Star standard with a tender tuna tataki only being outdone in the flavour stakes by steak tartare whose creation at our table added to a culinary performance which had us mentally applauding.
September on Tenerife
Best Experience: Our nephew Liam squeezed in a visit and his appearance is often a highlight of our year. We notched up a few new Tenerife experiences with him. Seeing a green turtle for the first time was special, but best of all was finally tracking down an incredible jolly green giant in what was little more than a housing development in Santa Ursula.
Best meal: A visit to Tito’s Bodeguita between Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava is regularly on the agenda when friends and family visit. This time they excelled their signature capricho de pollo (crispy chicken strips coated with almonds) with an even more delicious cherne albóndigas with papaya.
October on Tenerife
Best Experience: The first snows on Mount Teide send a buzz rippling through social media channels. This year they arrived very early, toward the end of October.
Best meal: The Indian Club in Puerto de la Cruz was partly transformed into a sophisticated Indian restaurant this year. In October we discovered the Aromas de India had already gained such a good reputation that it was difficult to get a table without a reservation. After eating there we understood why. The look is new, the quality of the food remains the same from its Indian club days.
November on Tenerife
Best Experience: Much of the month was spent in Britain and then Chile but we did manage to squeeze in a stay at the Arona Gran Hotel in Los Cristianos which has undergone extensive renovation and is looking fab. Instead of a best experience though, we had our most disappointing experience of the year at La Pepa Food Market. There was nothing wrong with La Pepa, it was just it didn’t live up to our expectation of what a good food market should be. The stalls sold the sort of food we can eat any day of the week… but at far higher prices.
Best meal: Sometimes you can’t beat simple – roasted chestnuts with a plastic cup of wine beside the harbour in Puerto de la Cruz is a November treat every year.
December on Tenerife
Best Experience: The month isn’t quite over yet but it’ll be difficult to top feeling like a rock star at the newly opened Hard Rock Hotel in Playa Paraiso. From a welcome glass of purple cava to checking out to the sound of Nick Cave singing Red Right Hand, staying at the HRH was a glamorous, fun-filled blast with a classic rock soundtrack.
Best meal: With a couple of days to go it’s also the Hard Rock Hotel, specifically the creative Spanish menu at Ali Olé (spot the pun) where scallops in an avocado sauce was the standout out dish of a seriously good taster selection.
One of the things we love about Tenerife is the sheer diversity of experiences you can have on the island. We started the year chatting with a potato farmer in a cave house and ended it drinking purple cava in glam rock tower named after a Manchester super group. Those are pretty diverse bookends.