Los Cristianos is traditional, Playa de las Américas is basically Sodom and Gomorrah, and Costa Adeje is swank and swish, the upmarket neighbour.
There you go, that’s the end of this article.
Or it would be if those statements were entirely accurate.
In the same week we received an email from someone looking to stay in the south of Tenerife who wanted to confirm Costa Adeje might be the right choice for them (as Playa de las Américas was the pits), there’s been a debate on Tripadvisor about where Los Cristianos ends and Las Américas begins. Some of the comments revealed just how much confusion there still is about Tenerife’s biggest southern resort area.
For a start, there is no obvious geographical division between the three. Los Cristianos runs seamlessly into Playa de las Américas which morphs into Costa Adeje.
Travelling from Los Cristianos at the southern extreme to La Caleta on the south western edge, let’s take a closer look at the boundaries and personalities which separate them.
Originally a fishing village, Los Cristianos is the most traditional of the trio; the other two are mostly tourism constructs. There is nothing traditional about either Playa de las Américas nor most of Costa Adeje, they’re purpose built to cater for sun-seeking tourists. Although Los Cristianos has expanded significantly from what were humble beginnings (even just over half a century ago there wasn’t much there) it’s still the best of the three for finding traditional restaurants, especially around the harbour area. The resort runs from the base of Montaña Guaza to Vista Sur behind Playa de las Vistas at the coast. Inland it curves around Montaña Chayofita, but only for a row of houses or so as El Camisón falls into Playa de las Américas.
But, in many ways it’s a meaningless border rather than a real one. Both Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos are in the same municipality, Arona. If anything, las Américas is just like another neighbourhood rather than a different town.
One of the problems with purpose-built resorts, especially those joined on to each other within the same municipality, is you can’t apply the same sort of labels/divisions you would to actual towns which have developed organically over centuries.
Playa de las Américas
Las Américas is the Tenerife resort many people look down on, unfairly in my view. I bought into that perception before I moved to Tenerife, and still believed it for a couple of years after living on the island. What changed my view was actually staying in hotels in various parts of Costa Adeje, Las Américas, and Los Cristianos and experiencing for myself what they were all really like.
Playa de las Américas isn’t a big resort, Costa Adeje has reclaimed a decent chunk of what was once known as Las Américas, and that in itself has led to confusion amongst even those who’ve stayed in the area. The southern end of Playa de las Américas around the Safari Centre is modern, clean, home to designer shops, a couple of luxury hotels, and some of the better restaurants in the bigger southern resort area. A visiting friend compared it to a smaller version of Vegas. You could even go as far as to call it ‘upmarket’. It was certainly good enough for the likes of Jennifer Lopez.
Head to its western border with Costa Adeje and it becomes more like the Las Américas many visualise when they hear the name. But even there the beach front around infamous Veronica’s is looking smart these days.
Costa Adeje begins immediately after Veronica’s, when you cross the Barranco del Rey to be exact.
Costa Adeje is the most complicated of the three resorts to define, mainly because it’s not one resort but a collection of small resort areas under the umbrella title of Costa Adeje – Adeje’s coast. Adeje being the municipality the resorts are in.
From the Barranco del Rey border heading west, the different resort areas consist of San Eugenio, Puerto Colón, Torviscas, Fañabe, Del Duque and, in recent years as developments have spread west to swallow it up, La Caleta which was, not so long ago, a stand alone fishing village.
Whereas the western end of the resort, Del Duque and La Caleta, are what people generally refer to as the upmarket part of Costa Adeje, the older resort areas to the south have benefited from modernisation over the last decade; a nip and tuck to make them more attractive to today’s travellers. But even then it’s not as simple as saying one area is upmarket and another isn’t. Walk the length of Costa Adeje and the scene regularly chops and changes; one minute modern and swanky, the next a throwback to dated, 80s type Brit bars in the sun… and then repeat a few times.
As a friend remarked, after staying in Fañabe for the first time:
“One day we turned right from our hotel and it was lovely. The next we walked left and OMG.”
And that’s it in a nutshell and why there’s so much confusion and conflicting opinions when people try to apply neat labels to Costa Adeje, Los Cristianos, and Playa de las Américas.
The trio appeals to a broad range of travel tastes. On the one hand, that’s why it’s such a popular holiday destination. But these tastes can be wildly contrasting, so randomly picking a resort which you think is suitable based on just a ‘Los Cristianos is traditional, Playa de las Américas is Sodom and Gomorrah, and Costa Adeje is upmarket’ formula is to dice with extreme disappointment.
Our advice would be to research, research and then research a little bit more before committing.
Our bite-sized guides have a brief overview of Tenerife’s towns and resorts, whereas our guidebook The Real Tenerife: the Insiders’ Guide goes into more detail about towns and resorts on Tenerife.
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