9 ways to savour a family holiday in Tenerife
Mention Tenerife and some people may turn their noses up a little. As with everyone else who has actually been, though, we know that this glorious island in the Canaries is brilliant for family holidays. Here, the young McKelvie family road test some of the isle's main attractions and activities for all ages, pushing beyond the anachronistic images and perceived ideas to discover nine ways to savour a family holiday in Tenerife.
9 ways to savour a family holiday in Tenerife
I've been to Tenerife over a dozen times and rate it as one of the top family destinations in the world. Join me now as I take you on a trip with my two girls and reveal nine ways to savour a family holiday to Tenerife in style.
1. Splash Around at Siam Park
- In a nutshell: voted the world's #1 water park by TripAdvisor - and it's easy to see why
My girls love Siam Park, a multi award-winning water park that converts most adults whose idea of what a water park looks like are stuck in a timewarp. What I love most about Siam is that it caters for all ages. Everyone can enjoy the massive white sand beach (complete with wave pool), really young ones can splash around a separate area, and toddlers can push the boat out a bit at the Lost City.
Then there are the rides. If your wee one is tall enough to go on these monsters and you are brave enough off you go! I'd thoroughly recommend ramping up the style by investing in a private cabana, your very own private space complete with mini bar, or the ace new all inclusive VIP Villa with its own hot tub.
2. Discover Loro Parque, Europe's best zoo
- In a nutshell: lose a whole day at this spectacular kid wowing, beautifully landscaped, oasis
Zoos are not everyone's cup of tea, but having been to a lot over the years I can say Loro Parque is the most impressive I've seen. I like that they have their own Foundation that ploughs money back into wildlife conservation. They host myriad species, from huge tortoises and white tigers, through to two species of penguins and red panda bears. The shows are the highlight with bird, sea lion, dolphin and orca shows to choose from.
On our last visit my youngest got to sit in a boat being pulled along by a dolphin, before getting to meet the pod. She is still smiling! To crank up the style I'd recommend the behind the scenes 'Discovery Tour' and upgrading to the 'Premium Tour', which includes lunch and booked prime seats for the shows.
3. Meet Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
- In a nutshell: blow young minds as well as your own with some of the world's best stargazing
The epic skies up in the high altitude of the Teide National Park quite simply offer some of the finest stargazing anywhere. You can take a group tour however, I prefer doing it in more style and stripping this down to just a guide and your family. I can recommend Jose Fraga. He got that we were here not for daddy to learn anything new, but for the girls to discover the magic of the heavens. And that they did, taking in the craters on the moon before meeting Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, aka the North Star.
4. Whales Ahoy!
- In a nutshell: watch your kids' delight as they come face to face with their marine mammal cousins
Tenerife is one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with pilot whales. You get various species of dolphins and other whales here too, not to mention epic views back to Tenerife on a cruise. You can join a big boat for a cheaper tour, but the magic of this special moment can be lost amidst a hulk of adults competing to practically prod the whales with their camera lenses.
I recommend heading out with Lina Yacht. They have a small fleet of private yachts that really open up a more intimate experience with just you, your family and the experienced skipper. You can be more in change of what you do this way and escape the crowds.
5. Jump on a pony or even a horse
- In a nutshell: the chance to hop on a pony or a horse
The classy retreat of at La Casona del Patio in the hills around Santiago del Teide is easy to get to from the southern resorts. It feels like another world, though; a world in which your wee ones can try out a pony ride, or a trip on a 'proper horse' as my girls dubbed them. They loved getting to groom a Shetland pony after their ride too.
6. Lose yourselves in Jungle Park
- In a nutshell: less heralded zoo-style park that kiddies just love
This underrated gem in the south is not as bright and shiny as world class Loro Parque, but Jungle Park is an awful lot of fun. It is set in a pocket of lush, jungle vegetation, which is a joy to stroll through as the kids check out the animals and hurl themselves around the rope bridges, and their 800m toboggan. My girls loved their birds of prey and sea lion shows too.
7. Pick a stylish family hotel
- In a nutshell: Tenerife has a swathe of hotels that really get what family friendly means
Tenerife's hoteliers really know what it means to be genuinely family friendly, from facilities through to service. This does not just apply to the lower rated hotels, with a couple of five star properties that I think are ace for kids. My wee ones love the pool and lush gardens at the stately Hotel Botanico and also the dedicated Ritz Kids at the Ritz Carlton Abama. A wildcard on my latest trip was the Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide, the only hotel up in the Teide National Park. They loved this wild escape, a moonlit walk and the hike around the volcanic landscape the next morning.
8. Stylish family dining
- In a nutshell: the locals love kids and you can enjoy proper meals out here
Eating out with your family does not need to be just fast food or unimaginative kids' menus. Tenerife boasts superb local produce and some great places to enjoy it. My kids really rate Molino Blanco. Last time we were there my eldest tucked into her own lobster. The locals adore kids and you can even fine dine with wee ones. I recently visited Restaurante Lucas Maes, a bright creative operation that is pushing for a Michelin star. The girls loved it! Their favourite, though, was Brunelli's, where they enjoyed the 28 day aged steak and couldn't believe it when the glass wall slid away during service to open up views of the Atlantic.
- In a nutshell: Tenerife overflows with those perennial kid pleasers
Sunshine and beaches, of course, first brought tourism to Tenerife's busy southern resorts. I love that you can enjoy all the fun thrills in Playa de las Americas or Los Cristianos, move up a notch in style at Costa Adeje, or even head away for a more chilled vibe at El Medano, where kite boarders outnumber families. You are never far from a beach in Tenerife, handy on an island that boasts balmy year round temperatures with plenty of sunshine.
Think your brood would get on well in Tenerife? Don't miss our selection of fabulous deals on cheap holidays to the Tenerife with savings from all inclusive giant First Choice, as well as Jet2holidays and On the Beach among others.
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