When people say they want to live or buy a property in Tenerife, I sometimes wonder whether they are fully aware of how many micro-environments the island has. It also has micro-climates, with the weather being notably different in different parts of Tenerife. The east coast is very breezy, hence it’s where the airport is, whereas the west coast is much more sheltered. One doesn’t have to go far inland (and therefore uphill), however, before it changes again, becoming colder in winter and sometimes much hotter than the coast in the summer – particularly at times of calima. The north coast is different yet again, often being cloudier and with more rainfall, the reason it’s often several degrees cooler in the north, and much greener.
In terms of their specific requirements, many people’s are often unknowingly contradictory. One couple, for example, were hoping to retire to Tenerife eventually and wanted to buy a property to use for holidays in the meantime. They wanted something near the coast, with good public transport, not in a busy holiday area like Los Cristianos but somewhere quiet with a bit of local culture and within walking distance of shops, bars, and restaurants.
This is a real example, and a fairly frequent list of criteria. The problem is that although such visitors will be using the property for holidays in the first place, they envisage living in it permanently when they retired – and this can create incompatible requirements. Often the requirements simply cannot all be found together. Most of the time, the type of property ideal for a holiday is not the sort of property to live permanently in. A complex, for example, is fine for holidays, but often people find that it drives them up the wall when they are faced with permanent living there. Holidaymakers rarely notice the problems (internal politics, problems with committees, budgets, noise, etc.) and long term residential tenants can move on if any given situation gets on their nerves, but buyers need to be much more careful.
Buying “near the coast” too can end up with buyers wishing to escape “up the hill” where it’s more residential: when you live here permanently, the ebb and flow of different faces as holidaymakers and tenants come and go can end up creating a very unsettled feeling. Also, the villas or town houses inland will be more spacious than the coastal apartments, and often no more expensive: living in an apartment can start to feel cramped after the novelty has worn off. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have the coast within view and an easy ten minute drive, but to live somewhere where it feels more stable and comfortable. Some people also find that wall-to-wall sunshine gets wearing after a time, and a bit of cloud and cooler weather now and then is a pleasant change, something that’s much more likely inland away from the coastal strip.
Each area, too, is very different, and each has its pros and cons. What follows is an attempt at providing a list of areas that are most popular, or that I’ve been asked about the most, and the things that might usefully be taken into account when considering them. If there’s an area you would like to know about that I’ve not written about yet, please let me know and I’ll add it if I can. Inevitably this is a personal perspective, and although I am frequently asked for recommendations about which areas are best or what are the main differences between this and that place, these are questions that each one of us will answer differently. In the main, this page is factually based and updated when changes occur, and I hope it helps to begin to define areas to investigate … because once that decision to move over is made, the essential thing is to come over and research areas before a commitment is made to any particular one.
Alcalá: Alcala is Playa san Juan’s much less well known neighbour, a typical south Tenerife town in that all the lovely stuff goes on unseen behind the main road that runs through it, making it look like a relatively unprepossessing place with, at times, a bit of a traffic problem. Take a side turning, however, and you’ll find a large plaza, shaded with great old trees where children play and elderly people sit in groups chatting on the benches, the whole thing surrounded by bars and restaurants … and a road down to one of the least known little harbours and beaches on the west coast. For those looking for somewhere to live, Alcalá offers peace and quiet, a good selection of shops, and easy access to other parts of the the west coast. For property investors, it is perhaps one of the best chances for profit in coming years, with the now established 5* Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora hotel on the edge of town enjoying a world-level reputation, and with the new motorway spur down from the TF1 now completed, and plans for the Fonsalía floating port for all ferry traffic to the western islands well in place.
Aldea Blanca: see Buzanada.
Amarilla Golf: Fifteen or so years ago I wouldn’t have considered this area as desirable. There were ongoing problems with legality, and at one point there was just one complex there that was actually legal. The golf course was pretty unattractive and the only way into the area was through the back end of the Las Chafiras industrial estate. Over the last decade, however, this area has been transformed, with many new and legal complexes, a new access road through the Golf del Sur, a new and beautiful marina, and the golf course is green and lush. In my opinion, this is in general terms one of a handful of real success stories in south Tenerife in recent years.
Buzanada: Buzanada is a Spanish town inland and the other side of the TF1 from Guaza, in the general area between Las Chafiras and Los Cristianos. It’s very Spanish with a high South-American contingent, and has now pretty much merged into Cabo Blanco on one side and Aldea Blanca on the other. It’s very affordable, but to my own mind, has little other than low price really to commend it.
Cabo Blanco: see Buzanada.
Callao Salvaje and Playa Paraiso: These two urbanizations have spent many years in the doldrums, looking for all the world as though they were stuck in a 1970s time warp. Over the last fifteen years, however, they have been seriously updated, with a new 5* hotel and scuba diving centre in Playa Paraiso, and in Callao Salvaje there’s a whole new beach and jetty along with considerable coastal landscaping. Longstanding plans to join the pair with a cliff-top walkway have now been completed, and both are now fully adopted by Adeje and so enjoy municipal services from the Ayuntamiento, and so helping greatly to improve local problems of poor quality water supply, telecommunications problems, and paralysed roadworks. These developments mean that the future is looking bright for the area, allowing the area to consolidate its status as a desirable holiday resort rather than the historic “allocation on arrival” area for holidaymakers. Indeed, Playa Paraiso’s four tower blocks have been renovated and two are now Tenerife’s first Hard Rock Hotel!
Candelaria: In some ways Candelaria is an archetypal and quiet Spanish town, with the advantage of being on the coast and in a relatively sheltered bay given that it’s the east coast. Every February and August, however, it gets overwhelmed with festivities for the Virgen de Candelaria (see eg HERE and HERE), and the whole area around the original town has been built up over recent years. Even though the surrounding coastline has now been developed, however, the original nice Spanish town is still the heart of the area, and there easy access to the motorway for Santa Cruz, the south, and TFS.
Chayofa: Chayofa is a pretty residential area just 5 minutes up the road and across the motorway from Los Cristianos. Many consider it ideally located, being quiet but with excellent access to the motorway and literally on the doorstep of the main holiday areas. It wouldn’t be too wide of the mark to say it’s one of the nearest things we have in Tenerife to the British concept of suburbia. The area has grown considerably in recent years, and is a mix of independent and complex-based villas, townhouses, and apartments. It has a small number of bars and restaurants, and decent public transport links. It is also very near the new southern public hospital – whenever that might actually be fully up and running. One can also often see birds of prey flying freely overhead since the popular Jungle Park is in the immediate vicinity.
Costa del Silencio: not my favourite area, not least because it suffers from an acknowledged crime rate and urban degeneration, especially around the Tenbel zone. Prices are therefore often considerably lower than in other areas, but many residents say there’s a really good community feel. There are none the less ongoing complaints about haphazard local authority attempts to carry out regular and effective public maintenance (lighting, street marking etc), and there are periodic flare-ups of muggings, trees and rubbish bins set on fire, and similar types of vandalism which give the area a certain notoriety.
El Médano: on the coast near the airport, so there is some noise from planes taking off, and it’s the world capital, it seems to me, for windsurfers, so is extremely windy at times. Like San Isidro, it is quite a way from other places, so being mobile is pretty essential. Having said all that, I think this is one of the nicest places on the island, with several beaches, one of which is a wonderful little town beach backed by the town square, some fantastic restaurants and cafés, and a cultural agenda that is among the best in Tenerife – there always seems to be something going on there. A downside is the ongoing issue over the iconic Hotel Médano, which now seems set to be demolished (at least in part), and the now completed Granadilla megaport whose environmental effects are still being assessed. As of 2020, there is ongoing further controversy over the building of a 5* hotel in the Sotavento area which some see as an inevitable and desirable upgrading of the town for tourism purposes while others claim it will destroy the undeveloped natural environment. In short, it’s the megaport debate all over again.
El Sauzal: In north Tenerife, with easy access off the TF5, El Sauzal is situated on terraces overlooking one of the most beautiful views in Tenerife, along the north coast, with the vast dome of Mount Teide dominating the scene. Very many properties there have simply amazing views. Similar can be said, however, for the whole area of north to north-east Tenerife, including Tacoronte, La Matanza, La Victoria, Santa Ursula, La Orotava and Los Realejos. All are lovely Spanish towns, often with stunning views even if not quite as spectacular as El Sauzal itself, and all with easy access to the TF5. As far as the often remarked temperature differences are concerned, I think they are frequently overplayed. Yes it will be cooler and cloudier in the north in the winter, though it’s all relative! Moreover, when there’s a calima, the south and east usually suffers far worse so the relative cool will be a real boon.
Golf del Sur: built in a ring around a golf course, some parts of the area now look a little dated, and there is a seemingly never to be finished hotel which is still hardly much more than a building site. Also, despite apparently good access to the TF1 at Las Chafiras, the main exit road can be a real bottleneck. It can be breezy and, for some, far too near the airport. And yet it is an eternally popular area, with a considerable number of British and Irish bars, and a fair selection of tourist-focused shops in the adjoining San Blas Commercial Centre. The plane noise in some parts is really not noticeable, and the golf course from which the urbanization takes its name also gives it a green and lush feel. There are also newer developments of apartments with some good hotels, as well as a lovely coastal path, and with the new San Blas environmental reserve and its luxury frontline hotel to one side, the new marina on the other, and a new Disney-esque 5* hotel and the golf course in the middle, the Golf del Sur has transformed itself from a tired resort into a place that offers much for holidaymakers and those who want a familiar “British” environment in which to live that is somewhat quieter than the main holiday areas.
Granadilla: Granadilla is a “county town” for the Granadilla municipality, and as with Arona, Adeje, Guía de Isora and the rest, is at a certain altitude with generally somewhat cooler air, away from the bustling coast and with sweeping views. It’s a Spanish town with all the amenities and facilites you’d expect, and is very comfortably accessible to the motorway, airport, and tourist areas.
Güímar: Although the east coast is sometimes understandably considered rather bare compared with the lush north and the pretty west, the whole area around Güímar has its own beauty. Indeed the Güímar valley has some fabulous scenery, especially on what is one of the main access routes up to the Teide National Park through the charming little village of Arafo. There is easy access down to El Puertito, a very Spanish and very lovely little beach resort, and the town of Güímar itself, though somewhat rambling, is also very conveniently placed for motorway, within easy reach of both the south airport and Santa Cruz. As with any town on the east coast, though, it will get the prevailing wind, and in a calima, the east often gets the worst of things. Having said that, property prices are still reasonable compared to many of the more touristic or heavily residential areas.
La Caleta: An original fishing village at the “posh” end of the Costa Adeje, with a little beach and swimming area, fabulous restaurants, and on the doorstep to the beautiful Golf Costa Adeje. There really isn’t anything that can be said against La Caleta, and although there has been massive development in recent years beyond the old village heart, both design and construction have been sympathetic and sophisticated. Nearby, too, is an excellent international-level sports complex which is used by football clubs and Olympians, so the village even offers spot-the-celebrity for the starstruck. Add in a superb new road network, with 5-minute maximum access to the TF1, and you have something approaching a perfect location.
La Matanza: see El Sauzal
La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz: for those who think the south is just too hot, too touristic, too “British”, for them, and who want to live in north Tenerife, La Orotava would have to be among the top few choices on the list. It’s a very very pretty area with stunning views over the north coast, spreading out over a considerable distance in the hills above Puerto de la Cruz: indeed Puerto de la Cruz is La Orotava’s own port. This combination makes this pair of towns pretty unbeatable, with the original Tenerife holiday resort offering beaches, a lido and Loro Parque all combining with the bustling modern residential town of La Orotava. La Orotava also has, though, to its side, the old town, with its gardens and parks, beautiful basilica, museums, and House of the Balconies – the list goes on and on, and being preserved as a “conservation town”, it is one of the prettiest and most authentically “Spanish” places on the island.
La Victoria: see El Sauzal.
Las Chafiras: this was billed as “luxury” accommodation when it first started to be developed, but it is in fact standard housing in various complexes behind the main Las Chafiras shopping areas. It has incredibly easy access to the motorway, to public transport, and the airport. Lots of shopping on the doorstep, and prices are affordable. There are continuous promises from the local authorities to “prettify” the area but further works seem haphazard, and during 2020 the roads around the area will increasingly be affected by works on a whole new junction for access to San Miguel and the coast.
Las Galletas: A few years ago I wrote “at first consideration, it’s not inspiring, sandwiched as it is between the Costa del Silencio and El Fraile with the area’s typical range of diverse communities, not all of which are legal. And yet Las Galletas is a typical south Tenerife Spanish town with pedestrianized streets with many and varied shops, cafés, bars, post office, banks, sports centre, schools, etc.” This is all still largely true, and it still has good transport links, a lively area on the front for local fiestas, carnivals, concerts, etc., many frontline cafés overlooking the harbour, and a super little beach, but it has an increasing problem. Locals themselves say that over recent years it has become conjoined with Silencio and El Fraile, going downhill as a result, crime figures shooting up accordingly. My own perspective is that it has also started to look a little neglected over this period, and the vibrant air that it certainly had has become somewhat jaded.
Los Abrigos: this is a in some respects a somewhat nondescript village but it’s based around a charming harbour with little boats bobbing up and down, and a pretty walkway lined with mainly tourist-focused restaurants (one is the Michelin rated Los Roques) and shops following its curve. The village has grown considerably over the past several years, with many of the new blocks of apartments built on a grid-style basis, but one can still believe nothing has changed when in the harbour area which is delightful. It has a good road up to the motorway, though it can be a real bottleneck at the TF1 end at times, and being a primarily Spanish area, its prices reflect the fact.
Los Cristianos: the original fishing village has long since been consumed and disappeared into the developed conglomeration that Los Cristianos now is, and yet at heart it still retains the feel of a real and established town. It has several different areas, some residential, some touristic, and at its centre is the old but completely renovated Church Square where, as well as in other plazas throughout the town, there are frequent cultural events. There is also a new southern auditorium in the centre of town which stages international standard concerts. The whole harbour area has been refurbished with a very pleasant promenade along its several beaches and the old port itself has been transformed by the installation of pleasure craft jetties. Los Cristianos has a deserved reputation as an established holiday town with a great deal to offer on many levels.
Los Gigantes: of course, regardless of any other consideration, Los Gigantes has THAT view! Those cliffs are staggering and beautiful, and it is impossible to escape them. To some the parking is nightmarish, to others the town is too hilly, to yet others it’s claustrophobic, and it’s true that it’s not flat, and it really has been intensively developed. There are, though, some very nice properties indeed there, and some superb quality shops, as well as a few good hotels, a pretty sports harbour, a lido … and then there’s that view …
Los Menores: a typical south Tenerife Spanish village, so with accessible prices, and peaceful and quiet. It has really good access to anywhere in the South, and public transport is good. There are a few bars and restaurants, and the local main town of Adeje can be reached easily in 5 minutes.
Los Realejos: see El Sauzal.
Palm Mar: a new purpose-built residential urbanization, but in many ways, far more successful than, say, Parque de la Reina. Palm Mar is reached by a single road which leads to a mix of complexes, semi-detached town-houses and villas, some 20 years old or so, others very new. Many are really very pretty. It has a lovely new promenade and there seems to be a prevailing light breeze in the summer which can be very welcome, and it doesn’t have the typical cloud cover in the winter often associated with the Golf del Sur. The beach is natural and rocky in the main, and there is a superb beach bar with a white sand section. One problem Palm Mar has is that for years it has been a “work in progress”, with some apartment complexes unfinished, though with the economy improving somewhat, these are very slowly starting to look like they might at last be completed in the foreseeable future. The area is now also fully adopted by Arona municipality, and so has a long awaited bus service.
Parque de la Reina: essentially a development of apartment blocks running behind the motorway, offering very easy access to Las Chafiras and the airport as well as Los Cristianos, but to me, it’s uninspiring, and has been the victim of several crime waves over recent years. This is reflected in the prices, of course, which are considerably lower than in other areas.
Playa de la Arena: In the same way that Los Gigantes has that view, Playa de la Arena has that beach. It has won a blue flag for excellence in every respect for over 25 consecutive years, and it is indeed one of the prettiest beaches in Tenerife, with its typical black sand covered with matting walkways and benefiting from the shelter provided by the curve of a very attractive cove. There are plenty of parking spaces lining the main road behind the beach, and cafés, bars and restaurants galore. All this, together with a very good hotel and good road access, make for a really rather idyllic holiday resort. The area has become very built up over the past decade with residential properties up the hill behind the main road, but it’s still an archetypally Tenerife holiday resort at heart, and a good one too.
Playa Paraiso: see Callao Salvaje above.
Playa San Juan: a nice small coastal town on the west coast with a new beach and lots of cafés, bars and restaurants lining the sea front. Parts of it are quite Spanish but there is a sizable expatriate community there too. It offers easy access to the whole of the west coast, from the Costa Adeje area to Los Gigantes, and is now served by the motorway spur from the TF1. Prices in this area have increased as a result, but it is still a great favourite, and with very good reason, not least the works through much of 2019 on the new promenade and coast road and, especially, the new plaza. One reader says that “the nuevo Plaza is now an established mainstay of village life. Every evening the cafes are teeming with local families socialising, and kids having fun in the now much more open space. It’s vibrant and welcoming every day and night. Business looks to be booming on the promenade too. The recent improvements have enhanced PSJ no end. ”
Puerto de la Cruz: see La Orotava above.
Puerto Santiago: Sandwiched between Los Gigantes and Playa de la Arena, it is sometimes difficult to know where one ends and another begins. The three, and particularly Los Gigantes and Puerto Santiago, seem to be one coastal area. Yet Puerto Santiago has its own little black sand beach, and a lovely promenade over a rocky coastline lined with cafés and shops. If Los Gigantes has that view, and Playa de la Arena has that beach, Puerto Santiago has the feel of a real village, with its own little fishing port, and is clearly a place where people live, as well as go on holiday.
Santa Ursula: see El Sauzal.
San Isidro: a bustling Spanish town with lots of traditional shops, bars & restaurants, and just 5 minutes from the airport. It is straight up the hill from El Médano, again just 5 minutes or so away. A downside is that it is quite a way from other places, so being mobile is pretty essential: having said that it perhaps feels that it’s further away than it is because the main street, at certain times, has an horrendous traffic problem. There has been a great deal of new development towards the top of the town, and some of the newer blocks of apartments leave something to be desired in construction terms – there have been continuing protests about some developments where residents were without utilities and services. There has also been an increase in reports of crime in the area, but that goes hand in glove with the increased urban development, and the economic crisis of the last several years which has seen working people and large foreign resident contingents struggle to survive.
Tacoronte: see El Sauzal.