Best Tenerife Beaches 2023
Despite its predictably sunny weather and the wide variety of landscapes that attract millions of tourists every year, Tenerife has a bit of an image problem, thanks largely to the attentions of the package tourism industry. As a result the entire island is commonly, though rather mistakenly, assumed to be just a playground for the hordes of rowdy, booze-fueled holiday-makers looking for sun, sea and often sex in the island’s large resorts, particularly Playa de las Americas.
And though most visitors largely content themselves with lazy days on the beach, there are plenty of opportunities to be more active and go surfing, windsurfing, sailing, diving or deep-sea fishing.
Playa De Las Americas
The reputation of Playa de las Americas as a concrete jungle of tackiness and hedonism is second to none in the Canaries. This three-kilometer long sprawl of hotel and apartment complexes, housing some 100,000 beds, divides up into a number of districts with subtly different characters.
Most visitors spend a good part of their time on one of the area’s half-dozen beaches , which are crowded with regimented lines of sunshades and loungers. The breakwaters that shelter these beaches produce a gently lapping sea which is perfect for swimming.
To improve the resort’s image and finances there has been some effort to attract more affluent tourists, with four- and five-star hotels appearing in the more salubrious districts on the edges of Playa de las Americas.
Just north of central Las Americas, San Eugenio and its British-dominated northern neighbor Torviscas have successfully become family destinations, while the new yachting marina Puerto Colon between the two is slowly emerging as a trendy stop-off for the yachting set.
At the northern fringes of Las Americas is the soulless but relatively stylish and rapidly expanding resort of Fanabe – though visitors should be aware that its beach is still under construction as are many of its swanky hotels, which huddle around empty shopping centers. The Gran Hotel Melia Bahia del Duque, the most luxurious accommodation on the island, is at the northern end of this district.
Attempting to project a similar, exclusive image as Fanabe, Los Moritos, to the south of central Las Americas and bordering Los Cristianos (leaving it no space to sprawl) is near some of the least crowded beaches – the extravagant architecture of the five-star Mare Nostrum Resort setting the local tone.
Santa Cruz and Around
About 6km northeast of Santa Cruz, the leafy hillside village of San Andres is known for its large artificial beach, Playa de las Teresitas, built to provide Santa Cruz with a great bathing area beside the towering Anaga mountains.
A large man-made breakwater eliminates waves and currents around the palm-studded beach, and local facilities, including showers, changing-rooms and bars, make the beach a practical, easy-going and pleasant place for a day of sunbathing. Frequent buses (#910 & #245) serve the beach from Santa Cruz.
Bus #245 continues east to the end of the road at Igueste, 6km away on top of the cliffs bordering a beautiful stretch of coastline.
Along the way is the steep access road down to the next cove from Las Teresitas, Playa de Las Gaviotas – a much quieter beach frequented by nudists, though it is the seagulls that the grey-black sands are named after. A bar serves snacks down by the beach.
Best known for its long sandy beaches and breezy conditions, allowing great year-round windsurfing, the small town of El Medan, 7km east of the Golf del Sur, has developed into a laid-back resort for sporty types.
As a pioneer of tourism in the region, the town has not escaped the on-going building boom, yet it has managed to retain a pleasant easy-going atmosphere thanks to some thoughtful development and its continued popularity with Tenerifian’s, many of whom have holiday homes here.
The central Plaza Principe de Asturia, which joins a boardwalk spanning the length of the large, natural main beach is lined with shops selling clothing and watersports paraphernalia to the windsurfing crowd that congregate here; and the presence of health-food shops and places running yoga courses also help to give the place a trendy, bohemian feel
Despite the presence of several large beaches, however, it’s best not to have your heart set on sun bathing, since the local winds that make this place so popular for surfing often create sandstorms that make it an uncomfortable and chilly business.
In the week before Easter El Medano gets particularly lively, filling with young islanders who come here to party and whose tented villages spring up on the beach, joining the large camper vans of the windsurfing community.
Las Galletas and Costa del Silencio
Though largely given over to the tourist industry, Las Galletas still has the feel of a small coastal town with a handful of shops, bars and restaurants scattered along the seafront and inland along its main pedestrian street.
Beside Las Galletas the large Costa Del Silencio resort now forms a couple of miles of almost uninterrupted development containing numerous expat businesses – mostly restaurants and bars. In the absence of any real beach, growth here is spurred on by the success of the complex-oriented holiday, as begun at Ten-Bel in the 1960s, and an apparently boundless demand for holiday and retirement apartments in southern Tenerife.
A pleasant enough Canarian coastal town in its own right, Las Galletas mainly attracts visitors to its large adjoining resort area, the Costa del Silencio.
The beach continues well west of town, though its length is interrupted by a large concrete sea defence, built to shelter fishing boats in the tiny harbour. The murky waters of the small man-made bay are home to a number of small fishing boats as well as vessels belonging to the town’s numerous diving schools, all are watched over by the handful of sunbathers that regularly lie on the surrounding pebble beach.
The western resorts of Los Gigantes , Puerto de Santiago and Playa de la Arena fuse with one another along the steep rocky coastline and are based almost entirely around providing holiday accommodation and services to visitors. Together, the three offer a more modest and low-key modern-resort alternative to Playa de Las Americas, 30km to the south, and attract those looking for good weather and a quiet resort; nightlife is almost entirely absent here.
Though largely characterized by densely spaced low-rise apartment complexes, Los Gigantes has the advantage of a spectacular setting beside the huge cliffs from which it gets its name. A single, one-way main road descends into town and loops around its central collection of shops, which hide a tiny pedestrian plaza in their centre. Below the commercial area is a neat little marina crowded with boats and yachts and lined with cafйs and restaurants. North of here is a small, clean and rarely crowded black-sand beach beside the sheer rock walls of the massive Acantilados de Los Gigantes.
Puerto de Santiago and Playa de la Arena
South of Los Gigantes, and effectively joined to it, are Puerto de Santiago and Playa de la Arena. Both are a rather modern, sprawling mixture of homes, hotels and apartments and not really worth going out of your way to explore – particularly since most restaurants, bars and cafes are along the main seafront road anyway. The local highlight is the small and busy black-sand beach from which Playa de la Arena gets its name.
The opportunity to bathe along the coast beside the three resorts is often compromised by the huge waves and dangerous undercurrents in the sea so, to compensate, two private complexes offer pools and sun terraces on cliffs above the sea, just south of the marina in Los Gigantes.