Let’s Go Exploring! Tenerife: The Volcanic Mountains of Doom

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FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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“Shitshitshit”, I thought, squeezing my eyes shut as my right foot slid out from under me. My hands broke my fall, landing hard on a bed of black volcanic rocks. But before I had time to let out a breath of relief, a gust of wind slammed into me, nearly pushing me off the 2-feet-wide gravel path, which inclined at a 45 degree angle down a steep mountain, with nothing but a sheer drop on my right side.

This was supposed to be an easy hike around Mount Teide national park. Unlike the MadMax Botanical Garden in Las Palmas, this time I had the foresight to ask the information booth to make sure I knew what I was getting into.

Turns out, what the Spanish definite as an “easy” hike and what I define as “easy” are vastly different things.

The path started out easy enough, with scenic views of majestic, snow-capped, Mt. Teide, the tallest mountain in Spain, in the distance.

The black volcanic rock underneath our feet even made us feel like we were walking on the moon.

I was having a great time—until I got to this mountain path.

“Hon”, I called out to Wanderer. “Do you think this is a good idea? Maybe we should take a less treacherous path?”

“There is no other path,” Wanderer yelled as he calmly walked in front of me, sure-footed as a mountain goat. I could never figure out how my husband, with the natural grace of a ballet dancing hippopotamus can glide down a mountain with relative ease.

“Unless, you want to back track—it’ll take us an extra 2 hours and we’ll miss the bus but we could always take a taxi back.”

I did a few quick mental calculations and realized that would have cost 80 extra euros. Screw THAT. We’re getting down this mountain.

A lot of swearing and tumbling later, I’m finally at the bottom.

I turned around and look back up at the winding, narrow path we came down, and all the places I had nearly slid off to my doom.

“That was insane. This is an easy path? If this is easy, what’s hard?”

Wanderer shrugged. “Probably a vertical drop, covered in cactuses.”

“I am giving this mountain a 1 star review.”
“I don’t think you can give reviews to mountains.”

“Watch me.”

After a long harrowing day, I was relieved we didn’t actually try to climb Mt. Teide itself (the tallest peak in all of Spain), because that hike around the national park was barely scratching the surface and already I was tired, cranky, and questioning whether I could ever trust Spanish safety standards ever again.

View of our “easy” hike. Narrow slippery path with sheer drop on one side. Did I mention it’s windy too?

Luckily, once we got back to our Airbnb, I was able to enjoy the best view ever from our balcony without worrying about plunging over the side:

For a full week, I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the balcony, just staring at our screensaver-like view, not wanting to budge.

Tenerife cliff view

Turns out, in addition to that cliff view, Tenerife also had black sand beaches:

A beach with imported sand from the Sahara desert:

A concert hall by the ocean shaped like a Viking’s hat:

A botanical garden with a breath-taking view of the main city of Santa Cruz (with even flat steps, railings, and even paved paths!)

Salt water swimming pools with cold cold water (kind of reminded me of freezing cold lake Ontario) that wasn’t quite warm enough to swim in but pretty to look at:

After taking in the sights at Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s largest city, we re-located to an Airbnb in the Granadilla area where you can see the famous Montaña Roja (Red Mountain) from our backyard:

 

Even though the beach was so empty we pretty much had it all to ourselves, the Airbnb also had its own swimming pool, just in case the waves were too rough on windy days.

One thing we’ve noticed in the Canary Islands is how comfortable the locals were with topless-ness. Up and down the beach in Las Palmas, we could see lots of women playing paddle-ball or lying on their towels sun tanning with their boobs on full display (and no, I didn’t take any pictures. Don’t be weird).

And this pool in Tenerife was no different, as we found grandmothers reclining in the sun, their breasts completely exposed. Our host was a woman in her 60s with a big warm smile and even bigger chest. I tried to not stare directly at her nipples as she handed me the keys.

So needless to say, we had the breast experience on Tenerife!

Plus, the cost of living ain’t bad either:

Category Cost in USD/couple Cost in CAD/couple Notes
Accommodations: $42 USD/night $53 CAD/night We stayed in 3 different areas on Tenerife: Santa Cruz, La Matanza de Acentejo, and Granadilla. La Matanza de Acentejo had the best view for only $58CAD/night. There was a bit of a hike to walk up hill to the bus stop 15 mins away but so worth it. We were close enough to public transportation to not need car but just remote enough to be away from the busy-ness of the city. Santa Cruz was the most convenient with a tram right outside our apartment, with restaurants, groceries stores and entertainment all nearby. It was also the best value at only $40/night. Granadilla was the most remote of all the places, with very sparse public transportation but lots of peace and quiet. It was the most expensive at $87/night but we only stayed there 2 nights before our flight out. So on average, we spent around $53/night averaged over 16 days.
Food: $22 USD/day $28 CAD/day ($18/day for eating out, $10/day for groceries) Food was surprisingly affordable despite us being on an island. We ended up going to Hyperdino a lot to pick up groceries. We ate out to eat a few times but the food wasn't much to write home about so we went back to cooking.
Transportation: $11 USD/day $14 CAD/day With the exception of Granadilla, public transportation was relatively frequent and convenient. Getting to and from Mount Teide national park needed a bit of planning since there are only 2 buses that leave from Puerto de la cruz (a city 30 mins away from our Airbnb in La Matanza de Acentejo), one at 9:30am and another at 5pm. But once we worked out the bus schedule, we ended up not needing to rent a car and only paying $11.20 Euros/person round trip. The easiest way to get around by bus is buying a re-loadable Guaguas card from a convenience store in Puerto de la cruz. This ended up saving us 30-50% compared to paying with cash on the bus each time. The most expensive part of transportation was the 40 Euros/person ferry ride from Las Palmas.
Entertainment: $1.20 USD/day $1.49 CAD/day With so much nature all around, the only entertainment we paid for was the combined ticket of the waterpark and botanical garden in Santa Cruz for 7.50 Euros/person. Averaged over 16 days, that's only $1.48 CAD/day.
Total: $77 USD/couple/day $96.49 CAD/couple/day For an island with so much to offer (each area we stayed in felt completely different from each other), the price tag is unbelievably low for this Spanish paradise!

What do you guys think of Tenerife? Have you ever been there?



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27 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Tenerife: The Volcanic Mountains of Doom”

  1. Neat pictures. I’m more of a beach person and probably would have passed up that hike. 🙂
    Nice job getting through it.
    The Airbnb prices are great. That’s cheap. Ahh… I see. Tenerife is an island. We’ve only been to the mainland in Spain. I assume you have to take a ferry there?

    1. Actually we flew to Las Palmas from Germany, stayed there for a month, and then took a ferry to Tenerife. The Canary islands are all pretty accessible from each other once you get to one of them.

      Like you, Wanderer is more of a beach person but I’m more of a mountain person, so Tenerife was the perfect setting that has both 🙂

  2. Yikes! That hike looks a little scary. I’m sure it was worse in person. The “imported sand” beach is gorgeous though! Tenerife looks great.

    Similar climate to Las Palmas I assume?

    It seems like very affordable location. I keep hearing (and seeing) all these great things about Spain. Too bad the food wasn’t more exciting!

    1. Oddly enough, Tenerife was a few degrees cooler than Las Palmas (at least in the North Western part of the island anyway. But with so much sun and sad, can’t complain.

      Spain is surprisingly affordable (it’s like fancy South America). I think there is a lot of good Spanish food out there, we just didn’t find a lot on the island. Or maybe I’m just too picky now that I’ve stuffed my face in so many places around the world.

  3. bare cones! security alert! that’s too bad about the mediocre food as it’s so good on the mainland of spain. we had a pension (hostel) in san sebastian for a similar price and it had a private toilet and shower. safe travels.

    1. Yeah, I remember the food we ate in Barcelona being much better. But then again, maybe we just didn’t go to the right places.

  4. What Anon said. 🙂

    Certainly not her first, but, like the others, lovely to see a great mind packaged so nicely. And, not perving- just admiring….. Hat’s off to Wanderer; ya got a gal thats smart, rich, and beautiful. Better do what you should to keep her.

    Too bad about the food. I was in Barcelona a few years ago and every meal was great while being very affordable.

  5. I’m glad you made it back in one piece FC! It definitely makes for a fun story, nobody wants to hear how you had a perfect hike up a perfect mountain. We’re on the road currently too and had a bit of a story happen to us yesterday. I’ll be writing about it later. We almost went to Tenerife a few years ago, look awesome. Safe travels!

    1. Very true! Safe mountains don’t create very good travel stories 😉 Loved your Amsterdam write up!

  6. 1 week in Santa Cruz, 1 week in La Matanza de Acentejo, and 2 days in Granadilla (right before we flew out). (Can you tell I like taking advantage of the 15-25% weekly discount on Airbnb? 😉

  7. The advertising in this post is way too frequent and intrusive. An ad, then two lines of your text, then another ad? C’mon guys. Your ideas really help me, but I won’t be back if this is the new plan.

  8. Thanks for the feedback, Paul. We switched to a new ad network and are still figuring out the settings. I’ll work on tweaking it to make it less intrusive.

  9. Tip from a couple of “mature” older hikers. We extreme hike a lot of scary stuff like the place you fell and the thing that keeps us upright sometimes ( I still fall on some of the craziest pitches) are having a couple of good adjustable hiking poles. They give you four points of contact with the ground so that if your foot slips you still have a chance at maintaining your balance and also let you take some of the load off your legs by transferring some of the work to your upper body. We don’t use them on “sidewalk” trails that are flat and groomed but for anything dicey they are a huge help. Of course we are way way older than you, grasshopper, but if you haven’t ever tried them you might like them on the tough stuff. Great post as always!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Steveark! I’ll see if I can rent them since we have limited carrying capacity 🙂

  10. I love the Canary Islands, my grandparents used to live there and I liked visiting them as a child. Shame about the food though. I love the food there. Did you try the local tapas dishes like papas arrugadas (small oven potatoes with mojo sauce)? Where are you off to next?

  11. I did have some papas arrugadas as a snack after the mountain trek in Teide national park and I did enjoy it! (how can anyone not love anything called “mojo” sauce ;). Maybe I’m too picky after being in Barcelona in the past.

    As for where I’m off to next–you’ll find out soon in the next travel post ;P (Hint: this place has the best pastel de nata)

  12. Did anyone do the Chinese eyes to you in TFE?

    Happened to me many times.

    The Spanish are pretty damn racist, but it’s more ignorance than being hurtful.

    That said, we Asians call the Spanish lazy and poor because they’re lazy (who the hell sleeps in the middle of the work day?!)…

    They sure do know how to enjoy life though.

    1. Say what? No, definitely never happened to me in Spain. Did happen in Cuba surprisingly–but they were trying explain to me what “chino” meant, so it wasn’t really malicious. More out of ignorance.

      Sorry to hear that it happened to you in Spain.

      I’ve decided I rather like the siesta lifestyle 🙂 Not great when you want to grab a bite to eat but definitely a great way to enjoy life.

  13. The running joke in Spain for me is ‘the only person who works is the baker’…

    He’s awake at 5AM selling bread when I’m heading home and when I wake up at 2PM everyone else is sleeping.

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