Why people get it wrong about Santa Cruz on Tenerife

Don’t stay in Los Cristianos in March if you want sunshine and warmth. It’s chilly in March.

How does anyone who knows Los Cristianos well feel about that little statement? I’ll continue with my reasoning.

I visited in March 2011 and it was 13C at 4pm. It was parky. I’ve experienced it therefore it must be cold in March. I could also write it’s rainy in Los Cristianos in November because I’ve also visited then and it rained.

Los Cristianos, February, Santa Cruz, Tenerife
Cool and cloudy Los Cristianos in Feb 2014. Does that mean it’s always like this in February?

I’m not lying about my experiences in Los Cristianos. But does that mean either of those statements accurately reflect the weather in the south Tenerife resort?

No, of course they don’t.

Making a claim about a place based on one or even two visits is making a assumption based on limited experience. I’ve visited and stayed in Los Cristianos many, many times at various times of the year. Mostly it’s been warm and sunny, sometimes it has been cloudy and cool, and occasionally it has rained. At one point a few years ago I felt jinxed with the weather in the south of Tenerife. On eight visits out of ten the weather was overcast, totally useless for capturing decent photographs. But I knew I had just been unlucky.

Reliably sunny, the far south west of Tenerife.
Reliably sunny, the far south west of Tenerife.

On the other hand there are other areas where I’m nearly always ‘lucky’, where the sun shines most times we visit. One of those is around Los Gigantes in the south west.

Another is Santa Cruz.

Over the years we’ve visited Santa Cruz more times than I can remember. We visit for fiestas and music festivals; to see exhibitions and even movies; to shop; to eat; to visit attractions; to sort out driving related issues; to meet friends and also to show visiting friends Tenerife’s capital. We’d go just because we had a yen to spend time in a city we like a lot. Most of the time we experience a sunny city.

Auditorium, February, Santa Cruz, Tenerife
Meeting friends in Santa Cruz in February, they’d driven up from a cloudy Golf del Sur.

And yet on Tripadvisor this week the advice given about Santa Cruz is misleading at best (not for the first time), totally inaccurate at worst. A comment that in December it can be chilly and possibly even raining isn’t wrong in itself. Of course it is possible, but just as it’s possible in Los Cristianos or Costa Adeje. We stayed in Costa Adeje during the festive season 2015 and although it was sunny, it was far too nippy to sunbathe. It was a blip. They happen.

January, Iberostar Anthelia, Costa Adeje, Tenerife
Costa Adeje, early January 2015 and not a cloud in the sky, nor a sunbather on a sunbed.

A temperature of 9C in Anaga was quoted as evidence of how cool it could get. It’s a meaningless measure. As meaningless as quoting the temperature in Vilaflor to give an idea of what it feels like on the south coast. As I write this (mid Jan) Vilaflor is predicted to be 13C, whereas Adeje is 19C. Incidentally Santa Cruz is 21C. The cold temperature the person was referring to in Santa Cruz in December was 19C. Not understanding Tenerife’s weather patterns is common.

Northern side of Anaga, Tenerife
Anaga, just a wee bit different from Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz being cool and cloudy is a claim I’ve heard numerous times over the years. Usually from people who don’t know the city very well. It’s a perception based on a widely held belief about the weather on Tenerife. As one person put it on the same Tripadvisor thread when actually talking about Las Palmas on Gran Canaria – “as with Santa Cruz it’s in the north of the island so it is more prone to cloud than the south and therefore can be cooler.”

They’re right about Las Palmas, but they’re wrong about Santa Cruz.

African Market, January, Santa Cruz, Tenerife
La Recova Market in Santa Cruz on a sunny January day.

Santa Cruz is classed as being in the north of Tenerife, which is why so many people come out with the off-the-shelf statement “it’s in the north so more prone to be cool and cloudy” without actually taking the time to think about the shape of the island or look at the landscape around the capital.

Two faces of Anaga, Tenerife
The different landscapes on either side of the ridge splitting Anaga. No prizes for guessing which side Santa Cruz is on.

Santa Cruz is geographically in the north of Tenerife, but it’s on the southern side of the high ridge which splits the island. That ridge makes a lot of difference when it comes to weather conditions. It’s one of those famous Tenerife micro-climates that gets mentioned so much. Anyone who, like us, has regularly driven the TF5 from north to Santa Cruz via La Laguna will know how common it is to drive through cloud and rain at La Laguna (600m above sea level) to emerge into sunshine for the ‘descent’ into Santa Cruz.

Noria, February, Santa Cruz, Tenerife
Café society – Noria district of Santa Cruz in February.

The division is so clear cut you can actually see it. There are places on the road which runs along the Anaga ridge where you can look down over both sides of the island. The difference in terrain is quite remarkable. One side is lush, carpeted with trees. The other, the Santa Cruz side, is quite arid. Mother Nature shows the reality to those who choose to properly look.

Playa de las Teresitas, March, Santa Cruz, Tenerife
Beautiful but often breezy – Playa de las Teresitas near Santa Cruz.

The weather in Santa Cruz has more in common with the south east coast than it does with the north west. Las Teresitas is the best looking beach on Tenerife but it’s not ideal for sunbathing for the same reason the beaches at El Médano a lot further south aren’t great for sunbathing. It might be sunny, but it’s also breezy much of the time.

Parque Garcia Sanabria, July, Santa Cruz, Tenerife
Hot in the sunny city – July in Santa Cruz.

Like anyone, I judge places from my personal experiences. If over 100 hundred visits to Santa Cruz at differing times of the year it’s been sunny, then to me the default setting is that it’s a sunny place. But, as our job involves accurately writing about destinations all across Europe, we like to back up our personal experiences with facts from official sources where possible. In this case this is from the Spanish Met Office.

The annual average for sunshine each day on the south coast of Tenerife is 6.9 hours. In Santa Cruz it is 7.9 hours.

If anyone wants to discover the best of Santa Cruz for themselves, we have two city walking routes taking in what we believe are the most interesting parts of Tenerife’s capital.

About Jack 434 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 Facebook

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