In Canary Islands, Going Beyond the Beaches

Greater magic lies in its volcanoes, colonial towns, and villages teetering on mountains.  
In Canary Islands, Going Beyond the Beaches
Playa de las Americas is the party capital of Tenerife. Here you can surf by day (top right), stretch on black sand beaches all afternoon and party the night into the small hours of the morning; While the Canaries’ waters (bottom left) are inviting all year round, its charms lie equally in towns like Icod de los Vinos, where its main draws is the dragon tree (top left); Sunrises over Teide volcano (bottom right) are breathtaking and worth the harrowing climb. Photos by: Pavliha/E+/getty images (surf), Jan Wlodarczyk/agefotostock/dinodia photo library (tree), Jairo Díaz/EyeEm/EyeEm Premium/getty images (woman), Santiago Urquijo/moment/getty images (mountain)

Playa des las Americas is the party capital of Tenerife, the largest of the seven main islands that make up the Canary Islands. Everything here is packaged and purpose-built—bars, discos, nightclubs and even the beach. While the average tourist rarely scratches the surface, Swagata Ghosh went beyond the surf and the ocean deep. One morning, she set out to climb Mount Teide (12,200 feet), the largest active volcano in Europe and the third largest in the world. Teide is a hikers’ haven and its lunar-like landscape is a magnet for Hollywood films—Clash of the Titans (2010) being the most memorable.

The writer then turned towards the town of La Orotava an hour away, where stately mansions dot pretty manicured squares. The town of Icod de los Vinos came next. It’s most famous resident, a thousand-year-old a dragon tree, has found its way onto bank notes, Canarian folklore, and myths.

No Canarian adventure is complete without a trip to the village of Masca. Its swooning heights can be accessed by an edge-of-the-seat drive from Garachico to Tenerife’s northern coast. The village with 10 adults, three children and no supermarket did not have roads to the outside world until about 28 years ago. Apparently once you arrived, you fell in love and never left. It isn’t hard to guess why. Masca, a little like Machu Picchu, rises above a thick floating mist and towers over the deepest, indigo blue sea underneath.


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  • Swagata Ghosh works at Bath Spa University and has recently completed her first novella set in Georgian Bengal. A former journalist, she now writes for the print and web in Britain, India and the Middle East. She lives in Wiltshire, England, with her husband and twelve fish.

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