9 ways to savour a family holiday in Tenerife

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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*.

Family holiday in Tenerife © Robin McKelvie
Family holiday in Tenerife © Robin McKelvie

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 number one 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.

The white sand beach at Siam Park © Alberto Valera - Flickr Creative Commons
The white sand beach at Siam Park © Alberto Valera - Flickr Creative Commons

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 it has its own Foundation that ploughs money back into wildlife conservation. The park hosts 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.

Enjoying face painting at Loro Parque © Robin McKelvie
Enjoying face painting at Loro Parque © Robin McKelvie

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.

The McKelvies on their private Lina Yacht © Robin McKelvie
The McKelvies on their private Lina Yacht © Robin McKelvie

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 the 800m toboggan. My girls loved the 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*. TUI has a host of hotels dotted across Tenerife, so don't forget to check out the latest deals and browse accommodation for every budget.

Hotel Botanico outdoor pool and garden - photo courtesy of Hotel Botanico & Oriental Spa Garden
Hotel Botanico outdoor pool and garden - photo courtesy of Hotel Botanico & Oriental Spa Garden

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 also 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.

Early morning on El Medano beach, Tenerife © Pkazmierczak - Fotolia.com
Early morning on El Medano beach, Tenerife © Pkazmierczak - Fotolia.com

9. Beaches

  • 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 family friendly deals on holidays to Tenerife with TUI. Departs from your a wide selection of airports across the UK, and make the most of this bountiful island all year round. Don't forget to see what the weather in Tenerife is like, and when we think is the prime to go for the very conditions.

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie is a Scottish travel writer, author and broadcaster. He has visited over 100 countries and regularly writes about Scotland and the Canary Islands. As well as frequently contributing to Weather2Travel.com, Robin writes for publications including The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and Wanderlust, and has authored more than 30 guidebooks.

Article updated on Tuesday 30th January 2018 in: Europe Excursions Family TUI

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