If you want to really see Tenerife you need to get off the beaten track to do so. The north of the island has some fascinating locations that few tourists know about.
1. The Rock of Taborno
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The Anaga Mountains are close to the university city of La Laguna and easy enough to get to by bus. Taborno, with just one restaurant, and a small church and square, is a tiny hamlet in this mountain chain. The majestic Roque de Taborno, which has often been called the “Matterhorn of Tenerife” is worth visiting. This rocky pinnacle towers high above the surrounding mountains, forests and valleys. The number 075 bus from La Laguna will take you to Taborno, and it also passes through the neighboring village of Las Carboneras.
2. The Troglodyte Community of Chinamada
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Get out at Las Carboneras if you fancy visiting a village of people who live in caves. The modern troglodyte residents of Chinamada still live like this, though admittedly, they have satellite TV, mailboxes, and street lighting. This very unusual hamlet is just a couple of kilometers past Las Carboneras and is unlike anywhere else in Tenerife, and probably unlike anywhere you have ever been. It has its own restaurant, aptly called “La Cueva.” If you enjoy walking, a trail leads away from Chinamada over the cliffs and down into the coastal village of Punta del Hidalgo, a place noted for UFO sightings.
3. Puerto de la Cruz’s Secret Beach
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Far along the northwest coast from Punta del Hidalgo, there is the resort of Puerto de la Cruz. Besides the attraction of its seafront and main beaches, “Puerto”, as it is called by locals, has a secret beach that you can only get to by walking, and if you know where the footpath begins. The path to Playa Bollullo, which leads through some banana plantations, can be reached from the La Paz suburb or from the TF-31 road. Playa Bollullo has black volcanic sand, and although the beach is not well-known it does have a small café in a shack.
4. The Cloud Forests of Aguamansa
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Inland from Puerto is the village of Aguamansa. It is easy to get a bus there and is a really interesting place to see because it is surrounded by cloud forests that would make a great setting for a Lord of the Rings movie. There is also a trout farm, which is open to the public. Moss and ferns carpet the ground of the forests and lichens hang like beards from the tree branches. The woodlands are often so shrouded in the cloud that you can get chilly and damp, even though it is hot and sunny down on the coast.
5. Barranco de Ruiz
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Taking the main TF5 road away from Puerto, and in the direction of Icod de los Vinos, you will pass the bottom of Barranco de Ruiz. It is signposted and there is a carpark too. A footpath climbs up the steep ravine and if you are reasonably fit, it is well worth making your way up this rocky trail. All sorts of wildflowers, such as Canary Island lavender and giant white bugloss, grow at the sides of the path, and there are incredible views of the coast below. At the top of the barranco, you reach Icod el Alto.
6. Paragliding in Icod el Alto
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If you don’t want to climb Barranco de Ruiz, you can reach Icod el Alto by bus on the route that goes from Puerto de la Cruz to Icod de los Vinos via La Guancha. El Alto means “The High” in Spanish and distinguishes the town from Icod “of the Wines.” High is an apt description because the road going through Icod El Alto has a viewing point known as the Mirador El Lance, from which, what you see below looks like what you might expect to see when coming in to land on a plane. If this viewing point isn’t high enough, there is a paragliding center in La Corona in the mountains above the town.
7. Pyramids of Santa Barbara
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Egypt is where you might expect to see pyramids but Tenerife has a number of these mysterious constructions as well. And a mystery it is, because who built the pyramids and when has never been established for certain. Was it the ancient Guanche people, was it farmers clearing their land, or was it Freemasons? You can pay to see the Pyramids of Güímar in the south of the island or see the pyramids of Santa Barbara for free. Santa Barbara is just a few kilometers out of Icod de los Vinos, and look out for the Pasteleria la Pirámide cakeshop.
8. Cueva del Viento
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Cueva del Viento is not far from Icod de los Vinos too and worth checking out if you like caves. Its name means “Cave of the Wind” and under the ground of this mountain village is one of the biggest systems of subterranean volcanic tubes in the world. There is a Visitor’s Centre where you need to book your place on a guided tour if you want to go down the caves, but paying to see this amazing natural wonder represents very good value for money.
9. Cuevas Negras
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After the Cave of the Wind, the next location on this tour of places of interest that are off the beaten track, is Cuevas Negras (“Black Caves.”) You can either get there by climbing uphill on the path leading upwards from just before Los Silos on the coast, or you can climb downwards on a zigzagging pathway that starts just before the village of Erjos. In Cuevas Negras, there stands what is left of some houses, which were abandoned long ago. It is not these old buildings you want to see but the forested crags on either side of the path and the amazing views over the coast below.
10. The Ponds of Erjos
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Erjos is a village in the northwest of Tenerife, just before you enter the south of the island. The main road that runs through Erjos overlooks a number of large ponds, which make a wonderful wildlife habitat. Frogs, dragonflies, and water beetles depend on these pools, and you can expect to see coots, moorhens, and herons here too. Over the road from the ponds is a bus-stop and the Restaurante Fleytas. With a great range of hiking trails into the mountains and forests around Erjos, this is a convenient place to eat and drink before or after your journey.
Have you tried out one of these treks? Share your experiences below!