How to go on holiday without your kayak, by Rachel and Simon

Last week, Simon and I set off for our first non-paddling holiday together, to the lovely island of Tenerife. We arrived at our very touristy (but very lovely) hotel in 28c heat and took in the local sights. These consisted of a cool swimming pool, lots of cacti, English restaurants (!), rock pools in the sea, and sun! A lot of people seem to go to Tenerife to get drunk and sit on the beach, but we thought that a whole week of that would be a bit much, so we ran around and saw lots of amazing things. It’s probably a bit dull to describe all of them, so I’ll tell you about the best things we did.

The Swiming poolSimon with cactus

 

Mount Teide is the highest point on the island, at 3718m making it the highest point in the Atlantic, and also still an active volcano. We decided that this would be a good place to see some cool views and we’d also heard that it was cold at the top, so to stop Simon moaning about the heat (didn’t drop below 20C the entire week) we decided to drive up to the top. It was a strange drive; sea-level is very dry and arid, lots of cacti and no greenery. As we got higher up, the air got wetter and we drove through pine forests. We stopped at a viewpoint to take some pictures of the misty forests and typically our car wouldn’t start again……not too much of a problem as it had just overheated due to steep roads and some enthusiastic driving with lots of 2nd  gear. But it did give us a fright!

View from Mount Teide

As we continued driving, the forests died out again, we drove into a huge crater and the landscape began to resemble the moon. The rocks were black, red and grey and not a green thing in sight.

Mount Teide and the Roques de Garcia

After a quick stop to look at the Roques de Garcia, beautifully shaped top-heavy rock (above) we parked up at the cable-car base. The cable-car takes you from 2000m to 3500m in a speedy 8 minutes, and when we arrived at the top, it was freezing, windy and the air was very thin. Both of us struggled with the thin air and we found that we got out of breath and dizzy if we walked quickly. We didn’t quite look down the crater as you need a special permit to walk the last 200m to the top, but the views were incredible. It was even more moon-like at the top and there was a faint whiff of sulphur and smoke coming out of a couple of places to remind us that we were on a volcano! The drive back down was fantastic- the mist was really thick and it made the forest really atmospheric and creepy.

At the top of Mount Teide

Towards the end of the week (and feeling the need to find a boat) we ventured to Los Gigantes, a coastal town on the south of the island next to the most incredible cliffs I’ve ever seen. We boarded a speedboat for our tour along the cliffs which rise vertically out of the sea for 600m, and as we zoomed along, we marvelled at the sheer rock formations all along the coast.

Los Gigantes 

We also marvelled at two very brave sea kayakers who were battling the quite big waves and strong winds to paddle alongside the cliffs in a duo. The boat moved out into the open sea a little more, and we slowed right down to look for dolphins. After a lot of false alarms, we found a big pod of dolphins. They collected round the boat and after 5 minutes or so, there were 7 or 8 dolphins playing in the waves around us. Dolphins have always fascinated me and seeing them in the wild didn’t disappoint. They were playful and really enjoying themselves. When the boat turned and accelerated back towards land, the dolphins followed. They were surfing and jumping through the wake of the boat and trying to keep up, jumping out of the water and under the boat. They were really magical!

Dolphins

 As if that wasn’t enough, the boat stopped in a quiet bay so we could have a quick swim. We dived into the crystal clear water for some impromptu snorkelling without a snorkel and we saw huge numbers of different fish swimming around underneath the boat. Back on dry land, we drove up and over the mountains and came to the top of the infamous road to Masca (the photo doesnt do it justice).

 The Road to Masca

This tiny town is nestled into a gorge in the middle of the sheer cliffs of Los Gigantes and it is so remote that the road to it was only built in 1991. Simon called on his best rally-driving skills and we tackled the hundreds of hair-pin bends to get to the bottom. The town itself has unfortunately been taken over by tourists (only cafes and souvenir shops) but it was stunning. The drive back up was more interesting…..and we were relieved to get back onto straighter roads!

On our last day we went to Playa las Americas to go surfing- well, bodyboarding. We hired a board and some cool flippers and then braved the waves. It was a pretty rubbish experience all round. Playa las Americas is the centre of British holiday resorts in Tenerife and it is awful. The town is a mass of run-down and grubby concrete hotels and bars. It’s like Blackpool on a bad day, but more tacky. However, the surf is really good. The waves were at least 4 foot, clean breaks, but they were breaking directly onto the reef. We both managed to surf a couple of waves in and both managed to get trashed in the shallows. I just swallowed a few pints of sea water; Simon gashed his leg on the rocks. We sat on the beach (more like gravel than sand) to recover, then went home wishing that we’d got our kayaks with us!

In the rest of the week we saw some pyramids, went to Santa Cruz (the capital), did a lot of swimming, ate fresh seafood and drank red wine! The wildlife was very different and interesting. We saw loads of lizards, hermit crabs in rock pools and some huge crabs that jumped from rock to rock. All in all, we had a lovely relaxing time and found some amazing sights on this small island.

Seafood

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2 Responses

  1. Love it! Glad you had a great time.
    I currently hate all kayakers who have seen dolphins when we haven’t.
    We met some last weekend on our sea trip.
    Kayakers who have seen dolphins, that is.
    Not dolphins.
    Actually the kayakers were nice.
    And I’ll forgive you for seeing dolphins too, I suppose.

    Love your pics, especially the one of Simon looking at his dinner and his dinner looking back.

    Quite fancy Tenerife as a kayak desitation, sounds like it has surf and sea trips.

    Top stuff

    xxh

  2. Great trip report, I am going there next week but have brought myself an inflatable kayak to take away with me.

    Not a cheap one but a proper two person one

    tomcat tandem

    Hopefully should have some fun

    Brian

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