Tenerife: The Spanish island with 70 beaches and one huge volcano

Orange-colored dust flies upward then settles again, revealing Mount Teide, an active volcano that at 3,718 meters is the tallest peak in Spain.From any angle Teide, which last erupted in 1909 is startling, even the white fog that shrouds its peak cannot hide its enormity.Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the seven Canary Islands, with more than 5 million tourist visits each year.This number is due in part to the “something for everyone” dynamic the island presents.In less than an hour it’s possible to travel from a lush, subtropical rainforest to volcanic terrain.The country’s isolation on the Atlantic Ocean has allowed for a rich evolution in biodiversity.It’s home to 50 endemic species, including five of seven remaining species of turtles in the world, the Canary Cleopatra butterfly and yes, even an eyeless cockroach.Conservation is a top priority on Tenerife; 48% of its land is protected.And at nearly every turn, there is some natural wonder to marvel over.The southern part of the island is home to between 500 and 600 pilot whales that boats can take visitors to watch.In the resort town of Los Gigantes, startlingly large cliffs drop into the ocean.In mountainous areas visitors can walk above a sea of clouds, a natural phenomenon caused by trade winds.In the harbor town of Garachico, neat cobbled streets link palm-lined plazas, and the natural lava rock pools in the bay are filled with crashing seawater.While the arid stretches of southern Tenerife attract beach lovers to its high-rise resorts, cooler temperatures, subtropical forests and tranquil towns characterize the north of the island.The capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is a northern port town with churches that have stood since the 16th century.In February, the town comes alive for Carnival, with revelers in fancy dress taking to the streets to drink and dance until the early morning.Less than a mile away from Santa Cruz, the cobblestone pathways in the town of La Laguna are lined with everything from boutique shopping, museums, to local art galleries.It’s also home to some of the island’s most historical buildings and only university, Universidad de La Laguna.Tenerife also offers 70 unique beaches, so the question becomes not which one to visit, but which type.On El Bollullo’s beaches in the north, cascading green cliffs and bountiful banana plantations lead to a sea of black pebbles glowing on even blacker volcanic sand.For golden beaches and bodies, the main town of Adeje on the southern coast is the place to be and be seen.Perhaps Tenerife’s greatest wonder, though, is Mount Teide.It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that experienced adventurous hikers can climb with written permission. cable car called “El Teleferico” can also whisk visitors to the top in eight minutes.And while the volcano dwarfs everything else on the island, from its summit there’s an even greater sense of scale.Low levels of light pollution mean it’s a perfect spot for gazing into vast star-filled skies.

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