Things to See and Do in Tenerife1 ... CARNIVAL
Only Rio de Janeiro does it better and event that party does not overshadow Santa Cruz’s efforts to make “Carnaval” - a non-stop 24 hour party. Festivities generally kick off in early February and last about 3 weeks! Many of the gala performances and fancy-dress competitions take place in the Recinto Ferial [fairgrounds], but the streets, especially around Plaza España, become frenzied with good-natured dawn-to-dusk frivolity.
It may sometimes be hard to believe, but there is an underlying political message to the whole shebang. Under the Franco dictatorship, Carnaval ground to a halt and there didn’t seem to be too much to celebrate. The Catholic Church’s cosy relationship with the fascists was another source of frustration so, when Carnaval was re-launched after the death of General Franco, the citizens of Santa Cruz wasted no time in lampooning the hypocrisy of the church and the fascists. Today, you will still see a lot of people dressed for the event as nuns and priests and drag queens. Remember to book your accommodation ahead - if you intend to go to bed that is !!
2 ... SIAM PARK
Tenerife’s latest liquid asset is Siam Park, a huge new playground for water babies. More than £40 million has been pumped into the Orient-themed attraction [which you can find on the outskirts of Costa Adeje] to make it Europe’s biggest water park. The 28m freefall Tower of Power tops the list of scream-inducers, which also includes the twin-cyclone spins of The Giant, and The Volcano, with its laser show.
3 ... CORPUS CHRISTI
Apart from Epiphany, Corpus Christi is the most celebrated religious festival in the Canary Islands. The most extravagant festivities on Tenerife are held in La Orotava and La Laguna, which try to outdo each other in the splendour of the occasion. The streets of the towns are lined with magnificent floral decorations, and the Playa del General Franco is adorned with pictures and “carpets” made of volcanic sands which can take months to prepare.
Plaza del Ayuntameinto is a pleasant square which is situated at the very heart of the old town of La Orotava and becomes the focus during Corpus Christi and visitors can take home images of the pavement works of art because they are recorded on colourful postcards that can be found on sale throughout the town all year round.
4 ... LORO PARQUE
From the day it opened in 1972, this tropical plant complex has been hugely popular and has been visited by over 11 million tourists. The huge area contains many animals and birds, magnificent orchids and dragon trees. It offers numerous tourist attractions, including shows of performing seals, parrots, dolphins and the largest facility for orcas in the world.
The entrance to the park leads through an authentic Thai village. Built in 1993, it comprises 6 buildings which were built in Thailand and shipped in sections to Tenerife, where they were reassembled by Thai craftsmen.
Parrot Show : Training parrot shows, including roller-skating antics, are held in the building at the centre of the park.
Jaguars : Two jaguars live in a reconstructed volcanic landscape. You can see them through a series of large windows.
Dolphinarium : This is Loro Parque’s biggest draw and can accommodate 1,800 spectators at a time to watch the show in what is claimed to be Europe’s larges dolphinarium.
Penguin House : With frost-covered rocks and a water temperature of 8°C, the Penguin House recreates a natural habitat, enabling the inhabitants to forget that they are living on Tenerife.
Tower of Fish : A school of fish swim inside an illuminated glass cylinder, more than 8m high, which stands next to the Penguin House.
Gorillas : A sizeable number of gorillas live out their days in relative freedom in the park, in an area of 3,500 sq m
Shark Aquarium : Several species of shark can be viewed in the aquarium. A specially designed glass tunnel walkway allows visitors to watch sharks swimming directly overhead.
Located in Puerto de la Cruz and open daily between 08:30 - 17:00.
5 ... PARQUE NACIONAL DE TEIDE
Some 3 million years ago, volcanic subsidence left behind the 16km Las Cañadas depression with the island’s emblematic volcano - Teide - at its centre.
In 1954 the area was turned into one of the largest national parks in Spain. Marked paths guide visitors round the best of this awesome wilderness of ash beds, lava streams, and mineral tinted rocks. The refurbished parador, next to the road leading along the plateau, is the only hotel in the park. The same road leads to the lower cable-car station and the El Portillo visitor centre.
Los Roques de Garcia : Close to the Parador, is a much photographed set of strangely shaped rocks, rising some 150m above the crater floor.
Izaña Astrophysical Observatory : At the entrance to the park, the observatory gives astronomers the chance to make the most of the island’s clear skies.
Las Cañadas : The seven cañadas [sandy plateaux] are the result of the collapse of ancient craters. Only a few species of plants can grown in this dusty arid wasteland.
Tajinaste [Echium Wildpretii] : This striking plant, a kind of viper’s bugloss, has bright red stalks. It can grow up to 2m high and is one of the symbols of Tenerife.
Cable Car : Built in 1971, the cable-car takes only 8 minutes to whisk visitors to within 200m of Teide’s summit.
Roque Cinchado : One of the Roques de Garcia, the Cinchado is this strange shape because it is wearing away faster at the bottom than at the top.
Llano de Ucanca : This treeless plain contains the rocks of Los Azulejos. Their blue-green flitter is due to the copper deposits within them.
6 ... PARQUE GARCIA SANABRIA
Located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Parque Garcia Sanabria was established in the 1920s. This attractive and peaceful park was named after the mayor of Santa Cruz.
The park is full of lush tropical plants and has a wonderful collection of trees. It has since been improved by the addition of a fountain and number of modern sculptures. Besides being a good place to cool off, the park provides a brief lesson in Tenerife’s history. The backrests of three benches depict the arrival of the conquistadors, the daily life of the Guanches, and their defeat at the battle of Acentejo.
The park covers some 67,000 square metres and features some attractive walks like La Rosaleda, The Bamboos and The Casuarinas, which is next to the famous floral clock.
7 ... TACORONTE
A coastal village, set 450m above sea level. Tacoronte is famous for excellent wines. When in the area, you should visit one of the many wineries to sample some of the fine local vintages.
Tacoronte has two churches - the Iglesia del Cristo de los Dolores which features a revered 17th century statue of Christ, which during the harvest festival is carried through the streets of the town. Also noteworthy are the Baroque woodcarvings decorating the interior. The Iglesia de Santa Catalina  has a fine wooden vault and rich interior furnishings.
Go just beyond the El Sauzal exit from the motorway and you will find Casa del Vino La Baranda - a museum devoted to wine and its production, located in a traditional Canarian country house with the opportunity to sample the produce in the adjoining tasting room. it’s a charming place, with some beautiful views of El Teide on a clear day. The museum also has a well-regarded restaurant and during July and August the central courtyard becomes and venue for classical music concerts every other Tuesday from 8pm.
8 ... PARQUE TAORO
Located in Puerto de la Cruz, this majestic park is an enchanting spot and a good place to escape the bustle of the town. The park has cascades, waterfalls, streams crossed with bridges, small ponds and viewing terraces.
At the centre of the park lies the Jardin Risco Bello Acuático - a tropical water garden that is home to many varieties of fish, as well as ducks and swans.
9 ...DOLPHIN AND WHALE WATCHING
Companies offering 2, 3 and 5 hour boat cruises to check out whales and dolphins are set up at the end of Playa de Los Cristianos, near the port, and in Puerto Colón in Costa Adeje. Most trips include food, drink and a quick swim.
The whales that inhabit these waters are the real stars. A number of different types of dolphin and a stable colony of some 250 pilot whales live only a short distance from the coast. They are the object of continual scientific monitoring and a high level of protection.
10 ... THE TENERIFE AUDITORIO
The programme of the Tenerife Auditorio [located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife], the home of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, is as rich and varied as that of any of the best concert hall in any European capital. Orchestras, soloists and dance companies perform on its stage. The Canary Islands Music Festival, which is held in the months of January and February, and the Opera Season, between September and November, are two of the most important annual events.
Impressive, brilliant white, the Tenerife Auditorio rises above the ocean in Santa Cruz. Architect - Santiago Calatrava - has created a building conceived like a gigantic sculpture and inspired by the sea and navigation, which has become an icon for the island. Its magnificent curved roof seems to be suspended in the sky and will make you see architecture in a brand new way.