I have to admit that I had my prejudices about the Canary Islands... I thought that they were a prime holiday spot for the typical British tourist, and I didn't like the sound of that at all. But when I saw how cheap a holiday package would actually cost me, I was booking my flights before I even knew it! Tenerife is the largest of the seven islands that are located 100km off West-Africa and, for as little as £200, I could enjoy it's all-year-round warm weather, whilst it was cold and rainy back in Cornwall!
It's fair to say that my expectations of the Canaries weren't very high, but it didn't take very long for them to become reality either. At the check-in gate, boisterous holiday punters surrounded me and, on the plane, I had to sit behind the embodiment of lad culture... But to be fair, everyone other than a small minority settled down fairly quickly. Plus, my experience with Bristol Airport was amazing with it's easy self parking, fast track security and an organised boarding process!
The aeroplane route took us along the coast of, I guess, Spain and Portugal, but from my side of the plane, the sea seemed endless. Even when we came into land, I couldn't see the island itself until the very last minute. So, when I eventually saw the palm trees, volcanic craters and beautiful villas for myself, I was even more amazed! I was officially blown away, and finally understood that Tenerife can offer a lot more than just a sun-soaked week away!
From the airport in Tenerife, a fairly full coach drove hair-raisingly-fast along the motorway to each of our hotels whilst we all took in the stellar scenery along the way! With lit up cities along the cliff tops, a actual volcano on the left and waves crashing on black sand beaches on the right, it was like nothing I had seen before!
Where I Stayed - Hotel Elegance Miramar
Honestly, my hotel took me a bit by surprise to! The reviews were absolutely terrible, and I admit that the beds weren't the comfiest, but as a whole I thought it wasn't bad at all! My room was massive and the balcony was just as big! Also, there was a pool and the food was pretty good to (for non-veggies at least). The only major issue was how far away it was from anything... It could've been worse, but there were a few times when I wanted to avoid going out and about.
Puerto De La Cruz
The hotel was located in Puerto De La Cruz, on the north side of the island. Although a lot of the area was occupied by hotels, I was amazed to see so much old-style architecture around town, which made me feel like I was in “Pirates of the Caribbean”! I guess the parrots helped with that to, as well as the abundance of beaches and the fact that I could always see the ocean!
The closest beach to me was Playa San Telmo, which I liked the look of because there were spots to jump in from. There was also Playa Martianez, which I liked the most because there was a lot more space. Playa San Felipe and Playa Grande both looked absolutely lovely, but they were a long walk away and a real challenge to get back from because of the humongous hill!
Where To Eat
Okay, so I didn't actually eat out at all because my hotel was all-inclusive, but I did come across some amazing looking places whilst out exploring! I was speechless when I first saw Cafe Alba... The walk there wasn't exactly easy, but the high vantage point offered unbelievable views over the town and out to sea! Brunelli's Steak House also offered stellar views (especially for sunset) and sat right by the water's edge so you could watch the waves crash beneath you to! My final awesome spot was a place called Restaurante Rustico and, if you had a space by a window, it honestly couldn't get much cooler!
What To Do
Aside from it's reputation for “fun in the sun” holidays, Tenerife also offers a range of water sports and outdoor activities, including surfing, scuba diving and whale watching!
I was hoping to go paragliding around Los Gigantes, traversing down Masca Gorge and trekking up to the summit of Mount Teide (the tallest point in Spain)! However, it was all impossible to organise, because the tours were limited to certain days. So, instead of seeking out thrills and adventure on my trip, I ended up simply enjoying the sun after all!
Had I been comfortable in hiring my own vehicle, things would've been a bit more exciting. Plus, I could've gone to Siam Park, which is one of the world's top water parks according to TripAdvisor! Just down the road in Puerto De La Cruz, there was a zoo called Loro Park, with an “extensive and diverse” collection of animals, as well as a “top class” orca and dolphin performance. Sound cool? No! The confinement and captivity of animals is not cool!
Sunset Shoot 1
My first sunset shoot on the island didn't get off to a good start... I was walking to the first spot that I had in mind when all of a sudden my tripod decided to come crashing to the ground! Immediately, I knew that the damage would be bad and, when I looked a little closer, I saw that the tripod's head had snapped clean off. There was no way that I would be using it again, but I was lucky and managed to find a replacement from one of the many camera shops that were strangely still open around town. It was a plastic piece of crap that was also too big to take home, but it was going to have to do!
Then, I arrived at the location that I had in mind only to find out that it was completely inaccessible! Having to write that spot off, I started walking further up the coastline in the direction of a derelict looking building, with cracked paint, crumbling walls and exposed pipes, and people still living inside! Next, I noticed a pathway that was being used by fishermen to get onto the incredible rocks close to the waters edge. The pathway itself was actually what I was interested in, because it was going to make for great leading lines. However, I still had to wait for the lights of the town to start to turn on, hoping for a bit of colour and contrast.
Sunset Shoot 2
The following evening, I left the hotel and headed for the other side of Puerto De La Cruz. The clouds were already starting to pop with colour and texture, and the sun was just coming out from underneath them. Things were looking good!
When I arrived at my chosen spot, I was pretty happy that I could get what I had come for, but I was also hoping to get a few bonus shots before hand. So, I set out on a little scouting mission and started looking for some different compositions. If I climbed down the crumbly-looking cliffs, then I think I could've got many more shots, but that wasn't going to happen with all of the concerned-looking cars driving by! Thankfully, there was one composition that I thought could really work, so I stuck with that and waited for the sun to go down a little bit further.
I was expecting big things from this sunset and, in the end, not a lot came of it... Just a little bit of red that I actually almost missed. So, after that annoying anticlimax, I went through the process of waiting for blue hour again, to create more contrast and interest in the scene. I didn't think the images that I had taken thus far were that strong as stand-alone shots, but I was really happy with how well they worked as a set, and that's sometimes just as important!
Sunset Shoot 3
For my third shoot and final sunset on the island, I headed up a steep hill and a little bit further out of town. This is actually when I found Cafe Alba and one of the most unbelievable vantage points on the island, if not the world!
In case of crazy, pre-sunset clouds, I made sure to arrive super early. However, by the time I had set up at the spot, the clouds had all blown over and the sky was left bare, so it was nice to just watch the sun go down and the waves crash for an hour. The orange glow created by the sun tipped the texture of the water and hypnotised everyone sitting at the cafe! In the end, it was a straight forward shoot, an enjoyable evening and a great way to end a chilled (but sometimes challenging) trip! My expectations really were exceeded and I now can't wait to go back - I still have to climb the volcano!
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