We are staying in Playa de las Américas, which is a purpose-built resort created in the 1960s. Many of the beaches have imported white sand from the Sahara to replace the black volcanic sand and rocks that are native to this area. Walking from one end to the other you can see the change from the skeevy strip clubs and cheap bars to designer shops and beautiful hotels with enormous pools.
I always feel rather sad when I am in beautiful countries where mass-built holiday apartments and cheap hotels have blighted the original beauty of the coast. Tourism is good economically but if not sensitively done, it can destroy cultures and environments. As a tourist, I always feel part of the problem.
Teide National Park is incredible though – it is vast, desolate, arid, inhospitable. Not what you would call beautiful in the conventional sense. Yet it is a huge tourist attraction, with people visiting in their thousands. It is so nice seeing something make money for the country by just being left as it is.
We went up Mount Teide by cable car which was amazing, but very very cold (- 2°C), so we were glad we took warm clothes up there.
Interesting facts about The Canary Islands:
- The eight main Canary islands are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa.
- all the Canary islands were formed from volcanic eruptions
- the name Canary most likely comes from the Latin word for dog (canaria).
- the name of the canary bird comes from the name of the island, not the other way around
- Nelson lost his arm in Tenerife
- the Canary islands are about 100km from Africa
- the Canary island of La Gomera has a whistling language. Communication through whistling was a way of getting news across vast spaces.
- many movies have been filmed here
- the world’s worst aviation disaster happened in Tenerife in 1977 when two planes collided on the airport runway, killing 583 people.
- Tex-Mex cuisine comes from the Canary Islands. African Berbers who migrated to the Canary Islands used peppers and chillies in their cooking and this was brought to the New World by conquistadors who stopped at the Canary Islands on their way.
- The City of San Antonio, Texas was Founded by Canary Islanders, as was São Paulo in Brazil.