Tenerife’s most stunning nationwide park and guarded areas, from pine forests to volcanic peaks

Having erupted from the Atlantic 30 million years in the past, the sun-toasted Canary Islands host an irresistibly various clutch of protected landscapes, with soulful Tenerife main the best way because of its 43 designated pure areas. 

The island’s volcanic origins have formed an endlessly entrancing pure wonderland (49% of which is formally protected), the place aromatic pine groves disappear into primeval laurel forests, terracotta-red volcanic cones emerge from desert-like plains and Atlantic waves roll onto glinting black-sand seashores.

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Again within the early twentieth century, Spain was one of many first European nations to create a nationwide parks system, and Tenerife’s staggeringly stunning Parque Nacional del Teide emerged as one of many nation’s earliest designations. At the moment, it’s Spain’s most-visited nationwide park, with greater than 4 million guests arriving annually and 70,000 annual walkers clambering as much as El Teide’s 3718m-high rim. 

However Tenerife has loads of different inspiring areas the place you will get out into the wild, whether or not you fancy mountain climbing alone by means of banana-palm terraces, kayaking previous plunging coastal cliffs or exploring eerily silent lava-sculpted moonscapes. 

Latest years have seen a flurry of restrictions launched to assist protect these fragile pure areas in one in all Spain’s high tourism locations, with a number of well-liked spots bringing in a cap on each day customer numbers and requiring pre-booked permits.

After you are finished exploring Parque Nacional del Teide, revel within the treasures of the Corona Forestal © Sebastian Sonnen / Getty Pictures

Parque Nacional del Teide

Spain’s tallest peak, El Teide is an unmissable magnet for lovers of the outside, looming 3718m (12,198ft) excessive over an almost-deserted volcanic valley on the coronary heart of the island. Throughout it sprawls the hauntingly stunning 190-sq-km (73 sq mile) Parque Nacional del Teide, declared a nationwide park in 1954. A Unesco World Heritage Website since 2007, it has additionally been awarded Starlight Vacation spot standing for its gloriously clear evening skies. 

A straightforward-access cable automotive zips guests many of the means up El Teide to 3555m (11,663ft), however if you wish to stroll the ultimate 40 minutes to the summit (it’s 5 hours a method when you skip the cable automotive), you’ll have to e-book permits properly upfront. Solely 200 individuals are allowed to make the climb every day, with slots getting snapped up months forward of time. 

It’s additionally potential to summit each El Teide and its sister Pico Viejo (which final erupted in 1798) in a difficult full-day stroll, and numerous different trails wander throughout the volcanic cañadas (depressions) that encompass the peaks and the much-photographed Roques de García. For essentially the most inspiring surroundings, time your go to for spring, when recent floral blooms throw shade in opposition to El Teide’s often-snow-dusted peak.

Encircling the nationwide park, the 466-sq-km (180 sq mile) Parque Natural de la Corona Forestal protects a swirl of Canarian pine forests, whispering laurisilva (laurel forests), high-altitude gorges and sloping volcanic hillsides, with but extra rewarding mountain climbing trails weaving throughout it, together with the long-distance GR131. 

A hiker walks down an old aquaduct that winds along the side of jagged green mountains in Tenerife
Hike an previous aqueduct by means of the Anaga Mountains © Kevin Wells Images / Shutterstock

Parque Rural de Anaga

Tenerife’s rugged, mountainous northeast nook feels worlds away from Santa Cruz’s bustle and the Canaries’ seaside trip scene. Within the serene Anaga mountains, mist-wrapped peaks disappear behind lush laurisilva forests, and spine-tingling mountain climbing paths cling to the sheer slopes between steeply stacked valleys and distant pastel-painted agricultural villages. It’s all protected because the 144-sq-km (56 sq mile) Parque Rural de Anaga, which, together with 332 sq km (128 sq miles) of the encircling ocean, was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 2015 for its astonishingly wealthy biodiversity. Greater than 2000 animal species roam its wilds, from small-white butterflies to endemic laurel pigeons. The 2 remoted outcrops simply offshore, the Roques de Anaga, comprise a 25-acre Reserva Pure Integral, residence to the world’s solely inhabitants of large Roque de Fuera lizards, in addition to a variety of migratory birds. 

Among the many 400km (249 miles) of strolling trails threading by means of these deliciously peaceable hills, the 14km (9-mile)  Afur-Taganana-Afur route (formally the PRTF8) is an unmissable star, monitoring alongside hovering coastal cliffs to Playa de Tamadite, a tiny volcanic rock seaside the place cooling off within the Atlantic is pure bliss. 

Malpaís de Güímar 

Head out towards the Atlantic from the easygoing city of Güímar and also you’ll be engulfed by east coast Tenerife’s otherworldly malpaís (badlands). Earthy-red sand, solidified lava waves and volcanic caves create a desert-like moonscape, with solely hardy tabaiba vegetation, cardon cacti and Canarian lichens sprouting from fissures within the floor. This space has been a Reserva Pure Especial for the reason that Eighties, and several other thrilling mountain climbing trails cross its lunar expanses, together with a rewarding 6km (3.7-mile) loop from El Puertito de Güímar that takes about three hours. 

Inland, don’t miss the six mysterious stepped lava stone pyramids referred to as the Pirámides de Güímar, whose origins nonetheless have archaeologists baffled by their similarities with historical Maya structure. Simply south, the spectacular Barranco de Fasnia y Güímar gorge (declared a Monumento Pure) trickles all the way down to the ocean, providing excellent mountain climbing and rappelling alternatives. 

A woman wearing a helmet stands on a trail in the Barranco del Infierno, a sheer-sided rocky canyon in Tenerife. Canary Islands
Snag a allow and hike into the biodiverse Barranco del Infierno © ronstik / Getty Pictures

Barranco del Infierno

Simply outdoors Adeje in sun-soaked southwest Tenerife, millennia of abrasion have carved out the sheer-sided Barranco del Infierno gorge, the place towering waterfalls give solution to uncommon plant species similar to drago bushes, wild jasmine and cardoncillo (discovered solely within the Canaries). Entry is restricted to solely 300 folks per day, and also you’ll want a pre-arranged permit to deal with the three-hour (6.5km/4-mile) hike alongside the ravine, which climbs from 350m (1148ft) to 1300m (4265ft) excessive among the many pine forests. You’re prone to spot kestrels, booted eagles and different birds of prey excessive above, and your complete surrounding panorama is a protected Reserva Pure Especial. 

Montaña Roja

Identified for its stark rust-red panorama, wealthy birdlife and weird Canarian flora, this coast-hugging Reserva Pure Especial revolves across the 171m-high Montaña Roja volcano, on the sting of surf-loving El Médano on Tenerife’s south coast. Hike as much as its wind-lashed peak for knockout wraparound views throughout sweeping seashores, rippling dunes and, on clear days, a distant El Teide.

The 2km (1.25-mile) path is signposted from a parking zone off the TF643 highway southwest of El Médano. Afterward, plunge into the deep-blue Atlantic at blissfully undeveloped Playa de la Tejita, search out a dome-shaped World Conflict II bunker on the neighboring Montaña Bocinegro and absorb the kitesurfing vibes in El Médano, the place Veinte 04 is a favourite hangout for dwell music, expertly blended cocktails and eats constructed from native produce.

Parque Rural de Teno

The splendidly wild, Atlantic-washed northwest tip of the island, Punta de Teno is a jagged volcanic rock peninsula with an irresistible pull. A Nineteenth-century lighthouse retains watch over the shoreline, and sunsets blaze orangey-pink throughout the limitless ocean. To assist with preservation efforts, entry is tightly managed. Personal automobiles aren’t permitted throughout daytime and in no way on weekends, which means the one solution to go to is by hopping on a bicycle, taking a taxi or catching native bus 369 from Buenavista del Norte 10km (6.2 miles) away.

However Parque Rural de Teno takes in a complete lot extra of Tenerife’s craggy northwest, together with the staggering 600m-tall basalt cliffs of Los Gigantes (finest admired from a bobbing kayak), a string of tricky-to-reach black-sand seashores and the precipitous Barranco de Masca ravine. An exciting, vertiginous and deservedly well-liked 10km (6.2-mile) round-trip hike that takes about seven hours runs alongside the gorge between clifftop Masca village and the all-natural pebble-and-sand great thing about Playa de Masca. Reopened in 2021 after in depth restoration work, the route is accessible solely on weekends, with simply 125 each day walkers permitted. Pre-booking a permit is important.