31st May 2022
This is my first blog post retirement in September last year. As traveling restrictions have eased I thought I would test the water (literally), with a trip in which I could try and restart my scuba diving career which has been in abeyance since 2016. Having had long covid which adversely affected my lungs, the whole question of being able to dive with an aqualung in the future was in some doubt. My last diving trip had been in the Lanzarote so I thought I would check out diving on another of the Canary Islands. Sister Rachel and husband Brian have been to Tenerife many times so I had been thinking about going there for a while. I met a native of the island in Glasgow, who advised me on some of the best places to dive, so I selected Los Christianos on the south of the island.
I flew from Glasgow on Friday 20th May using Jet2 Holidays. On this trip I continued to find Jet2 very efficient at airports and for transfers. The flight was about 5 hours to Tenerife Airport South. Transfer to the Hotel was about 30 minutes. I stayed at the H10 Big Sur hotel which was well positioned near the sea front. Fellow passengers on the flight advised me that H10 hotels are very good and I can't really dispute that. The communal areas of the hotel are very well appointed although the rooms are a wee bit in need of an upgrade. I did have a problem with my shower and as a result my room was changed with a minimum of fuss. Staff are very friendly and build a relationship with you over the period of your stay. The highlight of the hotel was the food. I had gone for a half board option which was a ridiculous extra £28 for the whole seven days. I had anticipated eating out on a couple of evenings for variety but this is the first time I have gone half board and not done this. There was an excellent selection of fresh fruit for breakfast and a grill producing eggs and other items to personal requirement. In the evening there was always a great selection of seafood options, as well as fresh meat for grilling. I think I had the small option on Gazpacho most nights although they also did a very hearty chicken broth. On a personal note, I like seeing cuttlefish under the sea but found them very unappetizing on the plate! One evening there was a beef stew which was mouth-watering. I can't really praise the food options enough. I found myself getting excited and looking forward to dinner every night.
Anyway, I booked a refresher course with Diving Atlantis which was just about three minutes from the hotel. My instructor was Romy from Mauritius. It was great to get back under the waves and once we had gone through the exercises we had a nice dive where I saw a number of rays both small and large.
The following day I had another two dives. We drove north to Abades for a shore dive and then headed south along the coast to Montagne Maria which is near Las Galletas. Our leader was Marcos from Argentina and my buddy was a French guy called Tom who is based in Berlin. So in total I did three shore dives and was glad to polish up my skills. Diving efficiency improved after each dive in terms of oxygen use. Overall I have to say however that I'm not that impressed with the diving in Tenerife, especially compared to Lanzarote. There are plenty of rays around which is good and I saw a nice trumpet fish but overall apart from some nice grasslands in which we were expecting to see turtles (but didn't) there is not a lot to see. However it is good to be able to restart diving without worrying about the lungs. I would recommend Diving Atlantis as their equipment is good and staff professional, friendly and welcoming. If I did go back I would want to do boat rather than shore dives. I'm sorry there are no photos from the diving but cameras and water don't tend to go together and no one on the dives was doing photography.
From a sightseeing point of view I took a full day tour to a number of locations. The whole island topography is dominated by volcanic activity. First stop is the spectacular National Park of Las Canadas del Teide, a UNESCO world heritage site. The summit of Mount Teide is the highest peak under Spain (over 12,000 feet) but I suppose given its location it really belongs to Africa rather than Europe. There is a half day trip where you can just go to the park and go up in a cable car but in order to see more locations I eschewed the cable car trip. The photos will give you a good impression of the park and the brightly coloured plants against a lunar like landscape make for good viewing. One memory is driving on a straight road with piles of black lava on each side. The guide advised that in February a number of flowers come out among the lava and make for fantastic walking in the area.
Next stop before lunch was Icod de Los Vinos, home of the famous Drago Milenario tree. The age is disputed but it is said by some to be a thousand years old and the oldest living specimen of the dragon tree. It is quite a sight to see and is one of the symbols of Tenerife. The buildings in the town were very reminiscent of the architecture in Santiago de Cuba.
We had lunch along the coast near Garachico which we visited after lunch. Garachico was one of the ancestral capitals of the islands and was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The natural pools of lava create a fascinating landscape and I managed to get stripped and quickly into one of the pools for a brief swim. The schedule was very tight so I'm sorry I didn't manage to get a photo taken of me swimming but have some shots of the pools.
The last stop was Masca a village surrounded by deep escarpments and extraordinary scenery. The hairpin bends to get up and down the mountain rivalled the famous Bealach na Ba!
This is a relatively short blog to accompany only a few photos. I'll finish with some reflections on Tenerife:
· For sightseeing a car is best as you can stop for photos as and when. The photos would have been much better if I had done this.
· If you like the sun, sand and sea and a high standard of hotels and restaurants it is ideal all the year round.
· The resorts run into each other in the south west and you could pick one depending on your age group. Los Christianos was fine and is linked to other centres.
· If like me you like activities you are more restricted. Car hire would be essential and maybe a walking holiday when the flowers are out amongst the lava. This would be my main reason for going back
· I thought the diving was nothing special. If going to the Canaries choose Lanzarote first.
Have a look at the photos and feel free to drop me a comment.
All the best