Posted in Beaches, Tenerife, Travel, Vacation, tagged black sand, black sand beaches, flights to Tenerife, golden sand, golden sand beaches, sunbathing on Tenerife, Tenerife beaches, Tenerife resorts, the best beaches on Tenerife, volcanic islands, what are beaches on Tenerife like, what are the differences between golden and black sand beaches on November 14, 2011|
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“This is Playa Jardín which was designed by the world famous Lanzarote-born architect, César Manrique,” I proudly point out to Miles as we stroll along the seafront of Puerto de la Cruz beside its volcanic beach landscaped with palm trees and a vast cactus garden.
“Oh!” says Miles, a look of mild consternation on his face. “I don’t fancy putting my towel on there, it’ll get dirty!”
I’m speechless. Not only has it never occurred to me that the beautiful, black/silver sand is like dirt, but I’m taken aback that such a notion should pop into anyone’s head.
There is no doubt that first time visitors to a volcanic island experience a beach culture shock as they gaze upon the dark sand shores that are so alien to their stereotypical view of a tropical island. The deep, hypnotic, azure waters and wafting palm trees are present and correct but the talcum, soft shores of a Robinson Crusoe fantasy are missing, and in their place are taupe grey swathes bordering the shoreline, their obsidian particles glinting in the sun like stowaway fairy lights.
Of course, not all beaches on Tenerife have black sand. The majority of the island’s most popular resorts of the south coast have beautiful, man-made, golden beaches like the endless Las Vistas in Los Cristianos and the perfectly manicured Playa Del Duque in Costa Adeje. For the thousands of visitors who daily scour the internet for flights to Tenerife in order to replace the depressing grip of a Northern European winter with the warmth of the sun on their faces and the feel of sand between their toes, if they stick to the islands’ southern resorts, they may never experience the beach culture shock.
Beaches in the Canary Islands are an east west divide. The further east you go the more concentrated the presence of pale pumice rocks which, coupled with the Islands’ proximity to West Africa which allows sand from the Sahara to be carried in the wind and deposited on the shores, creates natural pale sand. For that reason the eastern islands of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote have natural golden shores. By contrast, travel west to the islands of El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera and you’ll find beaches formed from the darker basalt rocks.
Here on Tenerife, which lies in the centre of the archipelago, you’ll find natural golden beaches in the eastern resorts like El Médano where the near constant wind doesn’t just provide the perfect conditions for the wind surfers and kite boarders but also ensures an endless supply of Saharan grains. But head instead to the north and west of the island and you’ll find the sultry, dark sand shores of picturesque coves like Playa de la Arena, Los Gigantes and Puerto de la Cruz.
From a sunbathing point of view, the beaches of Tenerife are as varied as the shores they coat. The sand in some of the man made golden beaches is quite coarse and sharp to walk on because it has to be heavier than your average sand pit contents in order to prevent it from being washed away. On the other hand, the black sand retains the heat more, making a walk to the sea for a spot of paddling a pain endurance test that morphs into an ungainly sprint accompanied by involuntary yelps. It’s also heavier and doesn’t stick to you in the same way as golden sand, easily brushing off once your skin is dry. Of course, what it doesn’t do is make your towel dirty, well, only if you get it very wet…
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Posted in fiestas, Life, Party, People, Spain, Tenerife, Travel, tagged "extreme sports", "Flypa 08", "Hip Hop Conga", "Los Realejos", "Socorro Beach", Amy Winehouse, band, black sand beaches, Canary Islands, Castro, cliffs, colourful, concert, Cuban, diabolos, festival, Glastonbury, hat, hip-hop, I don't feel like dancin, Latino, live, May, music, Orishas, parachutist, paragliders, paramotors, Puerto de la Cruz, Rehab, ribbon dancing, Ruzzo, salsa, Scissor Sisters, skies, Spain, Tenerife, tropical, Yotuel on May 6, 2008|
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In the unlikely setting of a basketball court in Los Realejos Bajo on Friday night the Cuban hip hop band ‘Orishas’ took to the stage in an atmosphere of euphoria, and not until they’d gone through their entire repertoire would they leave. Even then, they were still thanking the audience and promising to return as they finally disappeared backstage. From the moment they stepped into the lights amidst tumultuous applause, whistles and screams, through a set that lasted for almost two hours (including a fake ending after which the encore lasted as long as the set had) the audience punched the sky, aerial clapped, bounced, swayed and hollered along to every number.
Formed in Cuba as one of the many hip hop bands performing in the country, Orishas achieved international recognition in 1999 and now live outside of their home country, recording their music in Paris. Adding Salsa and Latino rhythms to the hip hop, Orishas have developed a hybrid sound that goes to the feet like dancing lessons. Their lyrics celebrate the racial mix that exists in Cuba, in defiance of Castro’s colour blind manifesto.
Orishas sang, danced and entertained as if their lives depended on it. By the time they were finally close to bidding “Buenas Noches”, they climbed down into the press area to get even closer to the frenzied crowd and performed this year’s Santa Cruz Carnaval anthem, ‘Hip Hop Congo‘. Yotuel took a small boy from the audience onto his shoulders for the closing number. It was heart warming and indicative of the attitude of Orishas who had behaved all night as if every single person there was a member of the family.
Finally sated, exhausted and euphoric, they headed to the beer tent to top up fuel levels up on vodka and Red Bull to get them through the rest of their Friday night … and that was just the audience.
Suntanned, scantily-clad hippie chicks ribbon danced and sold handmade jewellery and head accessories from stalls alongside the beach while their tattooed, dread-locked boyfriends juggled diabolos around a uni-cyclist; this was Glastonbury’s Green Fields without the mud.
The sun was blazing down as it had done all weekend as I headed down the steep hill towards the idyllic cove of El Socorro. From the vantage point of the road I could see a narrow landing strip laid out along the black sand and behind it, rows of people were sunbathing. In the sand flats beyond the shore a group of bathers were lying while the sea gently lapped their bodies.
Above the beach, the sky was filled with the rainbow silks of paragliders dancing like butterflies on the warm air currents and gently floating down above the heads of the sunbathers. From the stage the Weather Girls blasted out “It’s Raining Men ” as one by one the paragliders touched down on the sand and gathered up their sails to the applause and whistles of the onlookers. In between landings, Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab‘ and The Scissor Sisters’ ‘I don’t feel like dancin‘ were amongst the sounds blasting out from the DJ’s decks while on stage a band tuned up in readiness for their appearance later.
It wasn’t just the fireworks this weekend that lit up the cloudless skies of Los Realejos; for the fourth year running, the municipality staged the aerial festival of FLYPA 2008 (Festival International de Parapente de Los Realejos) which, over the course of four days, saw hundreds of rainbow silk sails gliding down from La Corona to the beach of El Socorro and the harbour of Puerto de la Cruz.
The sun began to set and preparations got underway for the night’s beach party. There was to be a nocturnal paramotor show, a live band, a giant paella and more fireworks. I desperately wanted to stay but I was completely partied out by the weekend’s activities.
Reluctantly I climbed back up the hill, passing hordes of people making their way down to the party. For the first time in my life I was glad the weekend was over and I could look forward to Monday.
And in my head all I kept thinking was…there’s a whole lot more to Los Realejos than meets the sky.
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