If you are to believe the tabloids and TV programmes, Tenerife has a bit of a reputation as a rather gaudy, lager soaked island that attracts young party-goers in summer and in the winter is a pensioners’ paradise. I am certainly not the former but admit I am the latter and I hope that I can tell you what Arona is really like for someone who lives there.
Arona, has some of the main holiday resorts on the island. Bordered by Adeje in the west, San Miguel in the east and Vilaflor in the north, it was once a self-sufficient region thriving off fishing and farming that produced cochineal, bananas, tomatoes and potatoes, but since the 1980 ever-expanding tourism has made it one of the island’s wealthiest areas.
Situated a few miles inland in the hills above south Tenerife is the sleepy capital whose original character remains unchanged. The historic quarter contains examples of Canarian architecture, its parish church contains interesting carved images and its lively traditional festivities provide visitors with an insight into the islands’ culture.
Because of its height, Arona, has splendid views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Look up and you see the peak of Teide, look down and you see the coast of Los Cristianos and the neighbouring islands. The municipality also boasts protected natural spaces, such as Montaña de Guaza, and Malpaís de la Rasca.
On the beaches and small coves along the coast, (I’m thinking of Palm Mar, Las Galletas and Costa del Silencio) tranquillity is guaranteed, but if you want non-stop amusement there are the beaches and resorts of Las Américas and Los Cristianos.
Playa Las Vistas is an almost 1km long half-circle with golden sand, imported from the Sahara. The calm clear waters, make it ideal for swimming and it is fully accessible for people with mobility issues. It has plenty of services and facilities on offer, including showers, parasols and deckchairs to hire. It also has a beautiful promenade backed by shops, cafes and restaurants with terraces that overlook the beach.
Playa de las Americas is well known for its lively party scene, a reputation that rests on a tiny area Veronica’s Strip, the rest has somehow remained free from the taint that tabloids claim and should not be tarred with the same brush. It is a modern purpose built resort and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It offers what most are looking for from a holiday in the sun – world-class water parks, child-friendly attractions, well priced restaurants, bars and pavement cafes overlooking the ocean where you can enjoy what is on offer both day and night. Depending on what floats your boat, at the end of your stay you will have had a wonderfully memorable holiday or a holiday from hell.
Despite being a popular resort, Los Cristianos feels cosy and you can still see signs of the tiny fishing village that was originally there before the tourists arrived. You do however need to know where to look. By the beach you will find an endless flow of tourists, souvenir shops and places to eat offering menus to suit all tastes and budgets. Behind these and away from the coast is where local families live, shop, visit the cafes to sip their coffees and beer and dine in a couple of reasonably priced Canarian restaurants. You won’t find the late night discos offered by Las Americas, but you will find Latino Clubs if you want to merengue or bachata like a local.
While Los Cristianos doesn’t feel like a historical town, you can watch the fishermen land their daily catch by the harbour just as they have done for centuries. In a surreal way the town offers everything a tourist wants plus a little bit of the rhythm of daily life in the Canaries.
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