Tag Archives: tenerife

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Sun, sea and sushi: why the Canaries are the new foodie hotspot

When it comes to the Canaries, misconceptions abound. Isn’t it all high-rise hotels and all-day breakfasts?

Well, no. There is so much more to these Atlantic islands than their “Brits abroad” reputation – a reputation that is, in my opinion, extremely unfair.

Because Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote in particular have exciting, diverse and high quality food scenes. Here you’ll find Michelin starred restaurants, local produce from fresh seafood to the juiciest tomatoes you’ll ever taste, and some of Europe’s best – but least widely exported – wines.

I visit the Canaries several times each year and on my last visit I set out on a gourmet odyssey around Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote for The Times.

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Cool Canaries: the 20 best boutique hotels

The Canaries are known for their large-scale resorts, all multiple swimming pools and vast buffets.

But the Canaries are also home to an increasingly eclectic range of boutique accommodation, from stylish haciendas with sea views to rustic inns surrounded by mountain peaks.

I was recently asked to compile a list of the best for the Times. Read my article on where to stay in the Canary Islands on Times Travel.

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Tenerife: the island’s secret side

Tenerife is one of my favourite islands, but it is a destination that is greatly misunderstood. Yes, you can just fly here and flop, or party hard in the clubs of Playa de las Americas, but that it not the island I know and love.

Mine is one of verdant rainforest and lunar landscapes, of black sand beaches, volcanic rock pools and gorgeous ancient towns. And now thanks to a new direct flight into the north of the island from Heathrow you could even see all this on a weekend break.

Read my piece on Tenerife’s northern side for the Times to find out how.

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Walking in Tenerife: Telegraph article

One of my favourite recent trips was to Tenerife, an island that is far too often written off as a fly and flop destination. I spent my time hiking, through unspoiled rainforest that looked like a children’s storybook, across volcanic plains and up to the very top of the island to stand on Spain’s highest point, Mount Teide.

As well as articles for Sunday Times Travel magazine and TTG, which you can see elsewhere on this site, I was delighted to write my first feature for the Telegraph.

Many thanks to Tenerife Tourism and Hume Whitehead for their help with this trip and their continued support. Watch this space for news of future trips to the beautiful Canary Islands.

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Tenerife walking festival: feature for TTG

I love Tenerife. It has beautiful beaches, great food, plenty of sunshine year-round and brilliant hiking.

That last one comes as a surprise to many but perhaps not for much longer. Tenerife is hosting its first ever walking festival this March, opening up this island of volcanic valleys, lush forests and black sand beaches to anyone keen to explore on two feet.

Read my feature on walking in Tenerife for TTG and get those hiking boots ready.

Big thanks to Robin McKelvie for his photography.

 

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Sunday Times Travel magazine: Tenerife

From my first visit, Tenerife got under my skin. This gorgeous island is misunderstood by many but loved by anyone who explores further than the southern beaches, finding volcanoes, lush forests, deserted black sand beaches and great food.

My most recent piece on the island is an Instant Escapes feature for Sunday Times Travel magazine. Designed to cut out and take with you, why not use it as a guide for your next trip?

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Walking on La Gomera


I’ve always had a thing about islands. Something about the ability to explore a place more or less in its entirety in one go has always appealed to me and when I received my maps for my trip to La Gomera with Macs Adventure I was pleased to see how much of the island was covered by the brown lines that marked our routes.

We arrived by ferry from Tenerife, crossing from Los Cristianos to San Sebastián in just under an hour. On the crossing we spotted whales and talked excitedly of Garajonay national park, which covers much of La Gomera and would be our first destination.

This vast area of jungle is one of the last vestiges of the ancestral laurel forests that once covered the entire Mediterranean region. On our first walk from El Cedro to Chipude we reach the national park’s highest point, Alto de Garajonay. It is a gradual ascent through pleasant, misty woodland to the summit, passing laurel trees and lichens, and the reasons for its lushness are all too apparent – from the peak we can see almost nothing.

We fare better the following day on the route from Chipude IMG_5812to Vallehermoso. On this walk we cross Barranco de Valle Gran Rey, full of palm trees and marked out by man into regimented terraces. It is astoundingly green, with every shade from emerald to olive represented underneath a clear blue sky, the route marked by giant cactus and swaying palm trees. It is beautiful.

ALL CHANGE

As you would expect this close to the sea, the weather iIMG_5823s very changeable and over the next few days our walks vary hugely. We walk along ridges cloaked in cloud, cross streams that look just days old and pass through dripping forests, before emerging onto dusty paths lit by the sun and rounding corners to find sudden sun-soaked valleys.

La Gomera is known for its dramatic geology and no walk is complete without a steep ascent IMG_5831followed by an even steeper descent to undo all the ground gained. On our walk into Hermigua we arrive via Santa Catalina after a total descent of 1,140 metres – the steepest I have ever done. The path here appears to dive off a cliff and I am astonished at every turn to find it winding on ever downwards, across terraces and down stony slopes.  It is easy to see why the Gomerans developed a whistling language, silbo, which could travel easily across valleys so that they did not have to.

BACK WHERE WE STARTED

After several days walking on the island we have covered some 50 kilometres, and a large chunk of this volcanic rock. And yet we feel as though we have only scratched the surface.IMG_5860 All too quickly we are back on the island’s eastern side, turning a corner to find Teide suddenly just a short hop across the water. It beckons us back towards Tenerife, and our final stop back in the capital San Sebastián.

This diminutive town had seemed so tiny on arrival but after a few days walking in the island’s interior it seems a vast metropolis. We escape its centre through a tunnel at the harbour and find El Charcon, a seafood restaurant on the quaysiIMG_5883de serving fresh fish platters in the sunshine. We order a platter of local cherne and other white meaty fish, topped with huge, sweet prawns and served with salty papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes) and mojo sauce. Washed down with a Canarian white wine it is the perfect end to a week’s walking. But I have to admit that I was wrong about one thing – you can’t discover a whole island in one visit. So I will just have to come back.

 

PRACTICALITIES

Macs Adventure offer seven-night walking holidays on La Gomera, with six days walking, from £455 per person, including all accommodation, breakfasts, baggage transfer from hotel to hotel or taxi transfer between walking locations, and a detailed info pack and guidebook. Flights/rail to and from starting point are not included, but Macs Adventure’s team can advise best value travel options at the time of booking. Macs Adventure has more than 200 walking trips around the UK & Europe, which can be tailormade according to your level of fitness.

More details of the trip are available here or by calling 0141 530 1950.

For more information on Tenerife visit the tourist board’s website here. I also found the “Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Travel Guide)” very useful on this trip.