A titanic swell hit the Canary Islands last week, one of those poo-your-pants Atlantic specials that lights up big wave spots all over western coastlines. La Santa in Lanzarote held 25ft monsters barrels, a terrifying dream of epic proportions that the Canaries are well and truly capable of fulfilling. So somewhat sadly but also to my epic relief, the surf wasn’t like this when we visited Tenerife earlier this October.
The Spanish Archipelago sits off the south west coast of Morocco beside the Western Sahara, meaning a 4.5hr flight time from the UK and the guarantee of warmth all year round. 2,034 km² of volcanic terrain makes Tenerife the largest of the Canary Islands, but for surfing it’s a lesser-known destination compared to some of its neighbours.
Fuerteventura for example has an established surf tourism industry, as does Lanzarote. So what makes Tenerife different? The opportunity to escape chilly Cornwall and explore its breaks and beaches was the perfect time to find out.
The Southern coast of Tenerife is a contrasting combination of dry, rocky plains and extravagant holiday resorts. Temperatures vary only slightly from the mid 20’s year round and this consistent climate makes for an attractive holiday destination.
Just in front of the Vegas style luxury are the craggy reef breaks of Las Americas, popular waves with the locals and usually pretty crowded but defintiely worth paddling into when the swell is building.
Billboards is a punchy right-hander located in the thick of Las Americas. It works when swell is between 2ft- 10ft and on bigger days can peel for over 100m, but the reef will bite so take care when getting in and out if you value your feet and board being intact.
Along the same stretch of coast is La Izquierda, also known as Spanish Left. This is a versatile spot that works on all tides and bigger swells from the Northwest. Watch out for the reef here too.
The popular beaches of Playa del la Jaquita and Punta del Camello are just 15minutes east of the sprawl of Las Americas. A constant breeze blows up from the Equator and these coves make prime locations for kite and wind surfing. A small swell stunted our surfs at these spots but with enough oomph behind the groundswell you’ll find some great surfing waves according to the locals.
The formidable size of Mt Teide makes for an effective obstacle against bad weather on the island. Rain reaches the south only twice a year, which leaves the north a refreshingly green and tropical contrast to the sometimes barren landscape of the south.
Down through banana plantations on the north east coast you’ll find the black sands of Playa del Socorro, a protected cove bordered by reef on both sides. Our waves were 3ft, mellow and clean with long with lefts and rights for surfers of both stances. It was a treat for foamies and after hours of silliness we reluctantly gave into hunger and moved on in search of food.
Further north, to the left of El Arensico cove is a left hand point break flanked by cliffs. The climb down is immense but anything over head-height at the reef can be hollow. Whether you make the climb or not is up to you, we checked it from the cliff and drove back to Socorro.
We forfeited our final day of small waves to hike up Mt Teide. It must’ve been this decision (and some geomorphological factors) that awakened the volcano from it’s century long slumber. Eruption warnings lit up our phones all morning, this would make it more fun right? For some reason, despite the 104-recorded earthquakes the night before, we still climbed. And the view from its slopes was amazing. Somehow the combination of natural beauty and a sense of impending doom gave us a whole new appreciation of Tenerife. There’s a lot to do on the island is the surf is small, its reefs host some of the Canaries best scuba diving and the tracks that navigate its volcanic landscape are perfect for cyclists and mountain bikers.
For surfing, is Tenerife the new Fuerteventura? Perhaps not. But we’d seen the potential for some unreal surf spots. The locals are passionate about their waves and we were reminded how fun foamie sessions are. All you need is good company, good coffee, Kinder Buenos and a lot of laughs for a small surf adventure.
Check out Thomas Cook for flights to Tenerife.