It’s unlikely that Tenerife is ever going to be the choice of destination for the majority of savvy British travellers. I know that, I’ve always known that. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs and sometimes it feels as though I’m banging my head against a lead wall studded with razor blades when I tell people that:

One face of Tenerife...

One face of Tenerife...

“‘honestly, it’s only a teensy, weensy part of Tenerife which has football strip wearing lobster red beer bellies tucking into Desperate Dan sized plates of chips washed down with jugs of lager at 10.00 in the morning. Most of it is nothing like that and it’s a beautiful island with a great culture.”

This usually elicits a knowing:

“Hmmm, really…if you say so.”

The latest example of this was when I was re-connected on Facebook with a friend from about 20 years ago. He’s a really nice guy and a ‘call a spade a spade’ sort of person. However, he was never the most cultured of blokes. I remember once when we went to one of my favourite restaurants in Manchester, That Café in Levenshulme and he told the waiter to “get that bloody rabbit food of my plate.” He was referring to the salad garnish on his ‘well done’ steak.

When he heard that Andy and I were living on Tenerife his response was ‘That’s where all the chavs go, isn’t it?”

And there you are. That’s not an uncommonly held image of Tenerife. Maybe ‘chavs’ is a bit of an exaggeration. That’s my mate’s way of talking, but you get his drift. Now you got to ask yourself where did people like him pick up this impression of Tenerife. It wasn’t from the Spanish, or the German’s…it was from the Brits themselves.

Now we can blame the media for portraying a skewered view of Tenerife until the cows come home, but there aint no smoke without fire. The real curse of the image of Tenerife is what the ‘average’ man and woman in the street tell their mates when they return to blighty.”

Here are a couple of quotes from a Tenerife Forum thread which are quite illuminating:

“Tenerife is just that…Tenerife, us Brits go for the sun and good weather.”

“…Believe it or not, a lot (tourists) come just to chill out by the pool/sea and have no wish to go further.”

This is the curse of Tenerife. Many, many British people who come to Tenerife come purely for the sun and the familiarity of resorts which have British bars and a lively nightlife. It is the populist image of Tenerife and It’s the reason why many ‘travellers’ who want to experience a different culture don’t view it as a serious option.

...and another. The one which travellers from bygone days were familiar with

The paradox of this is that it’s also the reason why Tenerife is one of the top holiday destinations for millions of Brits and has brought much needed revenue to the island.

It’s a double edged sword for sure, but I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again and again…until someone listens. The beauty of Tenerife is that if you want roast beef and Yorkshire pud followed by a pint or two of John Smith’s while listening to a Rod Stewart tribute act, or indeed the real thing himself, then that’s fine. If you want something a bit more sophisticated; fine dining and trendy bars in a modern upmarket resort, you can have that as well. But because the majority of visitors opt for a teensy weensy area in the south of the island, the bulk of Tenerife remains distinctly Canarian, so if you want to experience the real Tenerife, there’s a lot of it out there.

The curse of Tenerife also means that much of it is still relatively ‘undiscovered’ in tourist terms.

  1. Jacqui says:

    I agree, I have been going to Tenerife since I was 11 years old – over 23 years. I currently own a flat in playa de las Americas (overlooking starco complex!) whic i rent out often to retired couples. Over the years have seen fewer and fewer ‘chavs’ in the area, it is an older population these days, though there are still your beer swillers mostly when footballs on. In my time I did the ‘veronicas’ thing but now I find Playa relaxing and often hire a car to go into the countryside and find lovely local restaurants. Sadly its a reputaiotn that is hard to get rid of. Tenerife is a beautiful island and I recommend it to everyone!
    Jacqui – Yomely Torres, Playa de las Americas

  2. Sylla says:

    As a Destination Expert for Tenerife on TripAdvisor…..posters should have realised I don\’t know an awful lot about Bars, Veronicas,etc etc…..I just don\’t give advice about this topic, I am delighted when a poster asks about trips …that is my thing and I must say a few more are starting to ask this kind of question…and occasionally when the forum is a little quiet I try to introduce an item of interest about the island….I am a fan of the Americas because I think the authorities have done a great job with sprucing the place up and it is very pleasant to stroll along the prom now, they have done a much better job than Gran Canaria…

    I just hope the recession is not going to let it all go down the pan though and become tatty again…..!

    I will keep trying to promote it the best I can…..I for one love to just laze about on holiday, but if holiday makers just took one trip during their stay it would be a start….


  3. Richard says:

    Hi, like Sylla, I also contribute to TripAdvisor, and always advise tourists to see more of the island. I have been coming to Tenerife since I was 14 years old in 1971, and have been coming back to Puerto ever since we now own a second home overlooking the bay and Oratava Valley. As I travel up from the airport in the south I can’t wait to come to the green and pleasant land of the real Tenerife.

  4. dragojac says:

    Thanks for your comments. It’s good that different messages about the whole of Tenerife, and not just one small part of it are being broadcast.

    I agree Sylla, if people took at least one trip it would be a start. Most holidays that I have had have usually involved some lying beside a beach, but even on beach holidays we take a couple of days out to explore and I have to say that my most memorable occasions are always linked to the times we went ‘exploring.’

  5. lavanda says:

    Tenerife has a lot to offer from beautiful Mountainviews, Teide, small local spanish villages, golf courses, the Atlantic Ocean and of course the weather

  6. […] Well do the British Know Tenerife? A while ago I wrote a blog titled The British are the Curse of Tenerife. It was basically about how the impressions that others have of Tenerife might have been formed as […]

  7. janice wheeler says:

    ive only ever been to tenerife once 24 years ago had a fantastic time and we are looking to go back this year as we have visted fuerteventura and lanzarote 8 times and love the volcanic scenery we are looking at staying in costa adeje any tips would be great

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