Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

The second port stop for our transatlantic cruise to Barcelona was Santa Cruz, Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands and possibly the most picturesque. The Island is wildly famous for its sunny beaches and is a popular European vacation destination.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

About Tenerife

Tenerife is closest to Morocco but belongs to Spain, covers approximately 785 square miles, and has a population of under just one million. More than 5,000,000 tourists visit Tenerife each year to enjoy its family-friendly beaches and legendary nightlife.

The Guanche people were the first inhabitants of Tenerife. The Island gets its name from two words in their language: “teni,” meaning mountain, and “ife,” meaning snow. Therefore, Tenerife means snow mountain. It’s unusual to find a tropical island with snow-covered peaks.

Another taxi tour!

Our port stop in Tenerife was from 8 am to 5 pm; not much time to spend on this beautiful Island, so we reserved another taxi tour with TripsPoint.com, similar to the one we had taken in beautiful La Palma, Canary Islands, just the day before.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

We had a location to meet our guide, Gregory, but once off the ship, we discovered it was a long walk from the boat to meet him. Only specific taxis could enter the port area, so Gregory was not responsible for the long walk. He quickly identified us as we approached him, and we were on our way.

Gregory is Ukrainian, not Canarian, speaks excellent English, and is exceptionally knowledgeable about the Island of Tenerife. We enjoyed our tour the day before on our tour with Manila, but it was undoubtedly easier to converse with Gregory.

Our half-day tour, identified as the “Go West – VIP Private Tour to Masca, Garachico & El Drago in Tenerife,” promised to take us on a half-day private taxi tour through many of the Island’s natural highlights.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

Gregory drove us through the Teno Mountains to the village of Masca, Garachico, which at one time was the Island’s first capital.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

The highways are in excellent condition and well-maintained. I am, however, pleased Gregory was driving and not Steve. Steve would have enjoyed the hairpin turns and switchbacks at a much higher speed than I would have enjoyed them.

Our tour took us through several different climate and temperature changes during our afternoon drive. We were at sea level in the bright sunshine one minute, and then we were at a much higher elevation and in the chilly clouds in the blink of an eye.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands


We drove through winding mountain roads to the striking Teno Mountains, where we saw the old pirate village of Masca. Today it has less than 100 full-time residents but is classified as a Historical Site.


Garachico, at one time, was the main port in Tenerife. The Trevejo volcano in 1706, however, nearly destroyed the city and did destroy the harbor. The economy and growth of Garachico came to a complete stop.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

The narrow streets and charming colonial-style homes with Juliet balconies make this small town a great sightseeing location. The small balconies are made from solid and intricately carved Canarian pine and are very pretty, and some have lasted over 400 years.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

Drago de Icod de los Vinos

The Draago de Icod de los Vinos is a Dracaena drago, also called a dragon tree. Historians have not determined the tree’s actual age, but it is reasonable to assume this tree is over 1,000 years old.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

I had read about this tree as I prepared for our port stop in Tenerife and specifically wanted to see it. I am so happy we visited this lovely town to see this famous tree.

We love the legends we hear about in our travels, and yes, we discovered one about this tree. In this tale from mythology, Hera, Zeus’ wife, tricked Hercules into performing several tasks to reach a total god’s status.

One of his tasks was to obtain golden apples from a sacred tree guarded by the dragon Ladon. Hercules fought and killed the dragon, and legend says that Ladon’s blood fell on the ground, and these dragon trees grew.

The Canary Islands have often been the location of tales from mythology. In reality, these trees do appear to bleed, although the substance leaking from cracks in the tree is the sap that turns red when it comes in contact with air. Good story, though, right?

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

Teide National Park

Teide National Park, found in the middle of the Island, is a Unesco World Heritage site. The largest and one of the most dangerous volcanos globally, Mount Teide, is in this park. Mount Teide is also the highest mountain in all of Spain.

Teide Observatory

Steve and I are not great hikers but try to visit as many sights as possible during our brief port stops. We did not have enough time available to see this observatory, and we were only able to be there during daylight hours.

I would like, however, to mention its existence and the fact that it is the largest observatory in the world. It is one of the very best night sky viewing areas today. Tours are available to the public if you are able to visit.


I’d heard of this delicious coffee treat and asked Gregory to take us to a coffee shop where we could try this amazing layered hot coffee beverage. I would love to know the origin of this drink if anyone knows.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

From the bottom of the glass to the top, the four layers of this drink are condensed milk, Liquor 43, espresso, frothed milk, and finally, a lemon or orange peel. Cinnamon is often sprinkled on top also. This delicious concoction is always served in a small clear glass, so the layers are visible.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

Gregory took us to a quaint café where we sat at an outdoor table and enjoyed a traditional Canarian lunch. Barraquito is truly a nectar of the gods! We enjoyed the coffee so much that we each had a second cup later in the day with our lunch.

Back to the cruise ship

After our late afternoon lunch, we began our return back to the cruise ship. We enjoy this private type of taxi tour, especially when our shore time is minimal. The ability to stop, look and see at our own pace is a very comfortable way to go for us.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

Our new friend and driver, Gregory, was amazingly knowledgeable about all things Tenerife. He told us many stories and tales about the Island, far too many for my senior memory to recall and he answered all the questions we came up with.

Steve and I both recommend a trip to Tenerife. A cruise port stop is what we had available to us, but I recommend at least a week’s stay here to enjoy the beaches, scenery, history, and all Tenerife offers.

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands

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