This is the final resort on which I am giving my personal opinion. I know several people who live or regularly stay in and/or close to Puerto some will nod and say I recognise that and despite its warts they love it, others seem to feel they need to justify why they have chosen to be there. They are like the folk on Tripadvisor and are split into two distinct groups. Fortunately we all have different likes, experiences and expectations and what suits one will not suit another but this is my opinion, so for the last time, here goes…………
Puerto de la Cruz is the centre of holiday activity in the lush north of the island – now despite the denials; there is a reason why it is lush – what makes the grass green and the garden rosy, yep it is wetter and cloudier than the south. At least when I visit it often seems the case and if you check the webcam on Queenies Daily Snippets you can see that on a lot of occasions when the south is basking in sunshine the north is covered in cloud. Here are a some examples taken from the webcams minutes apart, one set captured in February, one in March and one just yesterday. But don’t just take my word for it, a local newspaper published an article earlier this month entitled What to do in Puerto when it Rains - sadly there doesn´t seem to be a lot
Webcam overlooking Puerto de la Cruz Webcam overlooking Las Vistas, Los Cristianos
As the first tourist resorts in Tenerife, Puerto was a hit with the Victorians who wanted to enjoy mild temperatures during the winter months. Even today its boardwalks, prom and leafy plazas offer a more relaxing pace of life for visitors that seek peace and quiet. It appeals to tourists who are content with walks near the beach, enjoy a coffee while people watching or who are content to spend time around their hotel pool. Having said that, come July to September when the winter holidaymakers have all returned home, Puerto comes alive with young local people who party the summer away.
Considering is has been a tourist spot for many years the centre of Puerto manages to seamlessly mix its nautical origins and fine old Canarian houses with the numerous high-rise hotels that are located throughout the town. As I have said previously, this 1970s concrete jungle is something I hate, the hundreds of windows on these buildings gape like empty eyes and spoil what for me would otherwise be a perfect backdrop to a resort by the sea.
To listen to some you would believe that Puerto is a Mecca for culture vultures which is a bit of an oxymoron. Be honest now, how many people do you know that actually come to Tenerife for culture. The vast majority want great weather, silky sand and plenty of activities to keep them amused on their one or two week break. Those looking for Spanish culture will head to one of the cities on the peninsula, Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca to name but a few. I have yet to see a Google search throw up anywhere in Tenerife when looking for culture.
Hotels range from the luxurious Botanico with its views of the Orotava valley, to the traditional Monopol. One attraction of this hotel is its indoor Canarian patio, as well as the front steps which are always decorated with tropical flowers.
As a coastal resort, the beaches are a main feature. There are several: Playa Martiánez with black sand and spectacular views of the cliffs is popular with surfers and body boarders. Playa Jardin transformed in the 1990s by the artist Cesar Manrique has sand imported to cover the rocky bay and is backed by palm and flower gardens (Oops is that man.made!). Concrete breakers, hidden under the sea break up the power of the waves as in winter the sea can be high and dangerous, and Playa San Telmo favoured by locals. I’m really not sure how they can just throw down a towel and spread out on the small pebbles and gritty black sand which can get into those awkward places that you can´t give a good scratch in public, but that is how the locals like it.
As an alternative to the beaches is Lago Martiánez a stone’s throw from the sea. It is a complex that features 7 seawater swimming pools representing each of the Canary Islands. Designed by Cesar Manrique it is a mixture of traditional Canarian architecture and sculptures interspersed with waterfalls, caves to swim through and a giant fountain spurting water.
Plaza Charco is in the heart of the town, this is where many congregate as there are plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the square. To the north of the Plaza the harbour and the cobbled streets of the old fishing quarter, La Ranilla also teem with restaurants. This is my favourite part of town but make sure you are in good company as there is little else in the way of entertainment to keep you amused while you enjoy your meal other than good conversation. Failing that there is always the guy with the accordion or the one with the parrot! Of course Puerto like the southern resorts also has its fair share of looky looky men, but “Not a lot of people know that” or perhaps they do, and just don´t admit it ;-)
Other attractions in Puerto – well there are an awful lot of gardens in and close to the resort that are seen as tourist attractions. The Botanical Gardens has a wide variety of plants from around the world. Sitio Litre (the orchid garden) comes complete with English teahouse and an 18th century mansion that has seen a few famous visitors over the years. And Risco Bello Aquatic Gardens, a beautiful tranquil place with a variety of fish filled pools in which to spend a few hours.
There is however more to Puerto than gardens, Loro Parque is the main attraction particularly if you like zoos and suits young and old alike. There are other things to do but these are usually done at a sedate pace and appeal more to the older generation – Casa de la Aduana (the Customs House) the Chapel of San Telmo and the Church of la Peña de Francia are worth visiting and a couple of half day strolls around town should more or less cover everything.
I am always amused (Okay I have a warped sense of humour) but when people recommend Puerto they always say jump on a bus to visit other places! It sounds as if they can´t escape quickly enough. However there are some nice places a bus ride away, two of my favourites are Pueblo Chico and Artlandya
Finally to sum up. For me there are some nice things to do in the north, but only for a couple of days, I would soon be bored as I need more stimulation. I’m not a drinker so don’t need the bars of the south but do feel it offers far more variety. I also need sunshine although I rarely sit in it I like to be able to see it rather than a cloudy sky which makes me feel depressed. So for a change of scenery Puerto is lovely, however if I had initially decided to live in the north when I first moved to Tenerife I know that I would not be as happy as I am now and probably no longer living on the island.