Isla Baja – A special place in Tenerife

Over the years I have been asked dozens of time what people should do when visiting the north of the island.  After repeatedly answering and thinking maybe I missed something out, I put together an email which I felt covered some nice options and I sent this to those who needed a few ideas.  I am adding that email below including some old photos for those who may be interested.

… In the north of Tenerife is a region known as “Isla Baja” a quiet place away from the usual tourist haunts that’s made up of four municipalities Buenavista del Norte, Garachico, Los Silos and El Tanque.  It is a haven of tranquillity in the heart of the countryside where visitors can enjoy nature’s magnificent scenery in its purest form. A place where sleepy villages full of traditions, crafts and authentic cuisine are all closely linked to the land and the sea.

Buenavista del Norte

Is a quiet village that has grown in recent years to a popular town due to the development of rural tourism. Previously it was best known for what is claimed to be the best-designed golf course in the Canary Islands, Buenavista Golf.

Los Silos

In the heart of the Teno Massif, offers a wealth of flora and fauna as well as interesting architecture. Its origins date back to the Guanches and the old town is one of the most beautiful on the island with its lush gardens and cobbled main street. In the centre is the Plaza de La Luz with the church whose construction began in the 16th century and the former Convent of St. Sebastian. Many festivals take place around the Plaza including modern festivals that take place annually like Festival Boreal or the International Storytelling Festival that appeal to the younger generation.

Garachico

The town was the most important port in Tenerife, until the eruption of the volcano in 1706, which buried practically everything. The town’s economic and cultural roots can still be seen in the religious and civic buildings in the old town. The castle of San Miguel, the church of Santa Ana, the former Convent of San Francisco and El Caleton where the lava flow created natural swimming pools are just some of the attractions tourists should visit.

El Tanque

El Tanque is an area of steep slopes and deep ravines. It is home to the Corona Forestal Nature Park, the Teno Rural Park and the Chinyero Special Nature Reserve. Although away from the sea and with no coast of its own, it offers visitors some of the best views of the island’s northern coastline. It also has a very nice Eco-Museum.

From the protected area of Teno Rural Park, perfect for nature-lovers, you can see many breath-taking panoramic views that show off the beauty of this area. Predominantly the picturesque village of Masca can be reached by a long and windy road. Many hardy hikers visit and enjoy the walk down to the beach below. The coast is filled with small coves and clear seawater pools that invite you to take a swim. The most visited spot of Punta del Teno is where the intense north sea and the calm southern sea of Tenerife meet, it can be very windy, so you need to be extra careful when visiting.

If you have just a few days then this magical area on Tenerife’s north-west tip is ideal to escape the routine, unwind and enjoy.

NB: Images of Teno courtesy of Turismo de Tenerife  
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North or South – The Big Tenerife Debate

If you have never visited Tenerife before, you may be wondering where to stay. The north and the south of the island are quite distinct from each other and the scenery is different so decide which half appeals most before making a booking.

Although Tenerife basks in sunshine for much of the year no matter where you stay, it is widely thought that the southern half of the island tends to experience slightly drier and sunnier conditions than the north. If sunbathing is top of your agenda, the south may be preferable. It is generally more developed for tourism, so if you are looking for a holiday that offers all the essentials and more, from water sports to cuisine, entertainment and theme parks, you will not be disappointed with what the south has to offer.

With more cloud due to the mountains and slightly wetter conditions, the north is lusher and greener than the south. If you want to experience verdant landscapes, the north is the place to stay.

Visitors here tend to be attracted to experiencing a more authentic side of the island, where they might mingle with locals at traditional restaurants, experience a village fiesta or browse in museums.

Both the north and south feature after-dark entertainment, but each caters for different audiences. The south attracts night-time revellers, with its wealth of bars and clubs and entertainment that appeals to all tastes. Northern resorts are geared towards mixing with locals in street cafes and bars and people watching.

Eating out is one of the most enjoyable pleasures on holiday and wherever you decide to go you will be spoiled for choice.

Tenerife is also a haven for beach-lovers. Black sandy beaches tend to be more characteristic in the north of the island, whilst golden sands can be found in the south. Whatever the colour, the difference is purely aesthetic and no reflection on the quality or cleanliness of the beach.

Whether you stay in the north or the south, Tenerife is perfect and easy to travel around so you can soon get to appreciate the different aspects of our diverse island.

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Lemonade Drizzle Cake

Having taken the mixer from the cupboard it is a waste of time just to use it for one cake so I decided to spend a couple of hours baking.  After making the Sticky Coffee and Ginger Pudding I saw that I had plenty of lemons in the bowl so if you like Lemon Drizzle Cake then you’ll adore this take on the classic!

Ingredients

70g Butter or Margarine
100g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla extract
120g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1 lemon/zest and juice
Milk

Syrup
150ml Lemonade
40g Caster Sugar

75g Icing sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 160º
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the egg. Slowly add the flour and baking powder.
Add milk then fold in the zest of a lemon, vanilla extract, and lemon juice to make a thick batter.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Syrup & Icing – Put the lemonade and sugar in a pan and heat on a medium heat until it is like a syrup for about 5-10 minutes
Mix the icing sugar with the lemonade until it is thick but pourable


Once the cake comes out of the oven leave it to cool in the tin. When it is completely cooled, take it out of the tin and pour over the icing, letting it drip down the sides.

As I was on a roll I also made some Peanut Butter Cookies and Condensed Milk Cookies

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Sticky Coffee and Ginger Pudding

This feather-light sponge is made with breadcrumbs and ground almonds. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons preserved stem ginger, chopped,
5 tablespoons ginger syrup
1 tablespoon instant coffee
4 oz caster sugar
1 egg
1 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2oz fresh white breadcrumbs
1 oz ground almonds

Method

Grease a 1-pint ovenproof bowl, then sprinkle in the sugar and chopped stem ginger.

Put the coffee in a small bowl add 1 tablespoon boiling water to dissolve then pour the ginger syrup into the coffee. Stir well and leave.

Mix all the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, ground ginger, breadcrumbs and ground almonds together. Then gradually whisk in the coffee mixture and the egg until it is smooth.

Spoon into the pudding basin and smooth the top.

Now you can either steam the pudding by covering the bowl with a piece of greaseproof paper, secured with string and steam for 40 minutes or until the sponge is firm to the touch.

Or bake in the oven as I did at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes. Turn out and serve immediately.

 

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Casa del Duque

Casa del Duque is an imposing and stately structure located on the coast of Adeje that invariably grabs the imagination of tourists and residents alike and the inevitable question they all ask is who are the possible residents and owners.

There are a lot of rumours when it comes to who has or still does live there, these include Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Ron Atkinson and even the King of Spain, Juan Carlos. In fact, it is someone else.

In 1965 Rafael Puig Lluvina started an ambitious project by acquiring land along the coast of Adeje and Arona. At the time there was nothing there, no roads, no beaches, no electricity, no water supply, just wasteland. What it did have was beautiful sunny weather that lasted all year round and this would make his plan a success.

1966 Don Rafael together with his son Santiago Puig, the owner of all projects that start with the name ‘Parque Santiago’ built an urbanization which they called Playa de Las Americas. His enthusiasm, patience and vision of the future, became the first and most popular touristy part of Tenerife for many years.

The Puig family moved into the area and their home Casa del Duque. It was originally built in the early twentieth century (1931-1936) by the Duke of Abrantes and was renovated and rebuilt as a residence.

The entrepreneur  Santiago Puig is married to the Tenerfian beauty Noelia Afonso Cabrera, who was Miss Europe in 1969, Miss Spain and 1970, and with whom he has two children.

Noelia Afonso and husband Santiago Puig.

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