The Ultimate (South) Tenerife Travel Guide

Tenerife mountains

Azure blue seas, continuous stretches of beautiful beaches and all framed by a backdrop of magnificent mountains, Tenerife is a true gem in the Canary Islands. *Sighs* I’m getting all nostalgic, I’ve just got back from Costa Adeje in the South of Tenerife with my family and all I want to do right now is sip sangria, wear my flowing skirts and go for a soothing sunset walk (clichéd yes, but I loved every moment of it).

But I’m back in the UK which means, of course, I’m hunched over my laptop and writing away. So, instead of just putting together a blog about my time in Tenerife, I thought – why not write a travel guide? Like I said, I stayed in the South (this is my second time in Costa Adeje) and it’s so different to the North. I’ve only passed through the North briefly, so this guide will focus pretty much on the South.

Get ready, this is a longer one but hopefully I’ve given you everything you need to know about staying in the South of Tenerife!

Family
Couldn’t resist adding a cheeky Mullaney family selfie 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Location

In case you don’t know, Tenerife is the largest of the Spanish Canary Islands and is just off the coast of West Africa. So yes, as you can imagine it is HAWT. Pack light – whether it’s a pool holiday or an adventure-packed extravaganza, the island’s a sweatbox and those cardis are just not needed.

Anyway – if you’re going to the South of Tenerife, you’ll go to Tenerife South Airport which is just how an airport should be – speedy. There was no fannying about (as it were); we landed, we got our luggage and hopped in the taxi in just 30 minutes. My family and I used to always take a Thomsons coach to our hotel, but a taxi is so much nicer. You get to your hotel in no time and don’t have to wait for Sharon, Nige and their three little terrors who are still in the airport gift shop.

SIDE NOTE: Am I the only one this year that didn’t wear NIKE clothes to the airport? Maybe it’s the new thing for all these youths (i.e. anyone younger than me – 21), but they all looked like little brand ambassadors. Plot twist – maybe they are little brand ambassadors!

Onto Costa Adeje! It’s 20 minutes from the airport which is ideal after a four hour flight (particularly when a 14 year old youth spent the entire flight kicking your chair *eye roll*). It’s also near to Playa De Las Americas and Los Cristianos. Yes, these areas are all more touristy than in the North (it has all the Spanish village vibes), but don’t be fooled – you can still have a ridiculously relaxing and peaceful break.

Costa Adeje is an up-market resort that is home to enchanting scenery, budget to luxury shopping and an alluring mix of golden and grey sandy beaches.

To the right 

Tenerife beach sunset
At the bottom of the Plaza El Duque shopping centre, if you walk right in the direction of Playa El Duque, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful beach walks. Seriously, you’ll think you’ve stepped inside a postcard when you see the sun setting in the direction you’re walking.

Eventually you’ll come to Acanto Cocktail Lounge which, unlike some of the bars you’ll find in the more built up areas, feels more intimate and has relaxing live music playing in the background. Fairy lights and cocktail delights (get a Cosmo, girls), it’s the perfect place to pass a few hours in the evening.

To the left (to the left)

Playa Fanabe Tenerife Day
Alternatively, if you walk in the direction of Playa Fañabe, you can immerse yourself in bustling beachside fun. From cocktail bars and wonderfully British restaurants (who can resist a full English for under €5?), through to mini golf, trampolines for kids and the (albeit tacky) tourist shops, I like to think of it as the Blackpool of the Canaries. Go on, it has to be done.

It’s even got a Maccies, Burger King and Subway too – bonus! I had a really healthy dinner (for me anyway) at my hotel one of the evenings and felt somewhat out of sorts, but that was nothing that a cheeky McFlurry couldn’t sort out 😉

Hotel

GF Gran Hotel Costa Adeje Tenerife

GF Gran Hotel Costa Adeje lobby
My family and I stayed at the GF Gran Costa Adeje Hotel (rated 5 stars) and IT. WAS. FABULOUS.

Hotel cake Tenerife

I have to talk about the food. Oh my giddy aunt, the food was something else. There was such a broad range of dishes and cuisines to choose from at the all-inclusive buffet and, needless to say – I ate like every meal was my last. They make the best sangria too! I’m not much of a red wine person but they sweetened it up with lots of melon and every night I ended up drinking it like it was water (just call me Jesus or something).

One thing I will say is ladies – cover up your ta ta’s as you can’t get away with having lunch in a bikini top. A panicked waitress came up to me one day and cried, “Please, shield yourself!” Yep, that really happened.

GF Gran Hotel Cost Adeje main pool

GF Gran Hotel Costa Adeje rooftop pool

The main pool areas are lovely and hallelujah, there were no sunbed wars or need to get up at 7am to reserve the perfect spot. Obviously, with kids and adults activities throughout the day, they did get a bit noisy. BUT that’s when (as long as you’re 18+), you grab your stuff and head up to the 6th floor (don’t worry – there’s a lift!), where you’ll find the treasure trove known as the rooftop pool. It’s so amazing and as adults only (really you can get away with it if you’re 15+ and well behaved), you’re guaranteed some peace and quiet. It all felt very grand and exclusive and if luxury is your thing, you now know where to go.

The rooms were a decent size and were always left immaculate by the cleaners. My only criticism is that the décor feels slightly dated (wooden details, a bit old fashioned) and I can imagine the rooms will need renovating in the next 18 months. But, that’s me being VERY picky!

Like all summer holiday hotels, the nightly entertainment was a bit hit and miss, but for me, that’s to be expected and it’s all part of the fun. My favourites (who were actually very very good!) were the flamenco dancers and the Three Tenors. Of course, I can’t forget the drunk old couple who were shaking and swinging it (oo-er!) to one of the cabaret acts. Who’d have known they’d have such youthful hips…?!

Overall, I’d rate my stay at the hotel as 5 stars and the hotel itself as 4 ½ stars – but again, that’s me being really picky.

Shops

Ahh Costa Adeje is great for shopping! Our nearest shopping centre was Plaza El Duque, a dome shaped building home to a mix of high street names (like Mango and Superdry) through to dinky boutiques and high end brands.

Keep walking right in the direction of Playa El Duque and you’ll eventually find El Mirador. This is probably the most reminiscent of your typical shopping centre but beware – the stuff’s expensive. If you’ve got the cash to splash then great – go ahead! But, if like me you’re not a fan of parting with your money, you can still have fun window shopping.

Shopping square archway tenerife
Gaaah this next one really bugs me. It’s probably my favourite little shopping square and I can’t find the name of it anywhere. Think Spanish village square, with pastel walls, a fountain and cute little archway to peek your head through. Again, this was an expensive one but it felt less designer and more boutique, and I’d thoroughly recommend you go. It’s very Instagrammable too, if you have an aesthetic (sorry I had to say it, I hate the word ‘aesthetic’ too) and want to go for the old town vibes.

The last main shopping centre I saw was Siam Mall. This is right by Siam Park (see below) and is home to shops like H&M, Mango, Zara and Pandora – need I say more? I’m kind of gutted I didn’t go, but I was too busy getting soaked at Siam Park…

Excursions

Siam Park

Siam Park Tenerife sign

Siam Park Tenerife entrance

This is the world’s best waterpark (according to TripAdvisor) and I completely see why. I went three years ago and after having been last week, I could quite comfortably go again! With an extensive Thai theme (despite playing very British songs like True by Spandau Ballet throughout the park, hmmm) and a variety of rides for both adrenaline-junkies and waterpark newbies, it’s got something for everyone and I’d recommend it to people of all ages.

Siam Park Tenerife artificial beach
You can get a free bus there from Costa Adeje and its surrounding areas, and it’s about €35 to get in. My brother James and I both bought fast passes on top of this for an extra €15. Yes it’s getting a bit pricey, but this means that you can skip the queues for most rides and when the sun is beating down, believe me – it’s worth it. My favourite rides were The Dragon, Volcano and Tower of Power (last one not included in fast pass). A fast pass means that you can get all your favourite rides done, have some food and chill on the artificial beach in just four hours, leaving you with the rest of the day to spend as you choose. I LOVED the fake beach – it has a wave simulator and boy, are you thrown about (oo-er again!)!!

The food is okay, a bit expensive for what it is. I paid €10 for very average chips, nuggets and a can of coke – but that’s to be expected with these places. You’ll need to bring some money for lockers (I think a large one is €10, but you get €5 back at the end). If you want to avoid any more costs, bring your own towels instead of hiring them.

Jeep Safari Mount Teide Tour

I won’t harp on about this because I did it three years ago, so it’s not as fresh in my mind as everything else. Mount Teide is a dormant volcano in Tenerife and its summit is the highest point in Spain. On the tour, you’ll explore the world heritage site and will be so high up that you’re looking down on the clouds. This is the one instance where I will say you’ll need a cardi or something to keep you warm – the temperature drops the higher you go (if I remember rightly, it dropped from the mid 20’s to about 16 degrees when we went, which felt freezing!). Nevertheless, the jeep safari tour is magnificent – definitely one of my top 10 things to do on the island and one I’ll never forget.

Activities

If you’re an adventure-seeker or an adrenaline junkie desperate to test your limits, I’d recommend you check out Watersports Tenerife. You can do everything from ride jet skis and cling on for dear life to a banana boat, to going fly boarding, stand up paddling and even parasailing. Yep – I chose parasailing and EEK I LOVED IT.

Parasailing 1

You basically go out on a boat, get attached to a safety harness and parachute and the boat pulls you along in the air. I get quite motion sick and was worried I’d get ‘a jippy tummy’ in the words of my Mom, but you go up so smoothly and are gently lifted up into the air. It wasn’t scary – if anything it was really peaceful. Imagine you’re sat on a seat in the air that, every now and then, moves forward and backwards.

Parasailing Tenerife 2

Parasailing Tenerife 3

Parasailing Tenerife 4
Ok, price wise it’s €40 for 10 minutes in the air which doesn’t seem like a lot. But to get you to the right spot in the water and back on the shore at the end, it takes three boats. Plus, if there’s other people going up before or after you, you can sit back on the boat and soak up the sun.

Sadly, the photos aren’t included in the €40 cost (it’s an extra €20) which I think is a bit cheeky. But, the guys took over 50 photos of me in the air so I can’t complain too much. At first I wasn’t sure whether to buy them (you get given an SD card), but after the guy made me laugh by saying, “It’s a small price to pay for a cheap memory” (I don’t think cheap memory translates the same in Spanish…), I had to buy them.

Travel hacks

If you’re still reading at this point – well done, you deserve a medal! I know it’s been a long one!
I’ll keep this snappy (is what the crocodile said to the waiter when he ordered his meal – sorry, that’s a shit Dad joke):

• Find where you can get a massage on the beach – It’s so much more affordable than the ridiculous prices you’d pay at any hotel spa.

• Don’t let the clouds deceive you – The wind and clouds will burn you the most if you don’t put the suncream on, so don’t be a tit. Lather up that factor 50 (if you burn like me).

• See if you can use your data abroad – The Wi-Fi is good in places but can be so temperamental too. You’re better checking you won’t get charged a bomb for EU data roaming and then using your data instead.

Random facts

• We didn’t see a single cat during our time in Tenerife. What?! Normally there’s loads of strays to make friends with (we called last year’s cat Julio – he had a deep meow!) but nope, there were none to be seen.

• The taxi meters go up crazy fast. I watched it on my way back to the airport and it goes up by five cents every two seconds. You can’t change it, but it’s something to be aware of.

• My pool reads were Lace by Shirley Conran and The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – reviews of those both coming soon!

• The market opposite our hotel (I didn’t catch the name) is questionable. It’s mostly fake crap (I have such a way with words), but they did have some really cute handmade cards and jewellery, so I guess you’ve got to hunt around a bit.

Market Tenerife

• Tenerife South Airport does the most wonderful crepes that you can smother with chocolate. Hot daaamn.

Tenerife South airport crepe
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