A question that is regularly asked by first time visitors to the island is ‘what’s the difference between the north and south of Tenerife?’
It’s important to understand what people are normally actually asking by this. What they really mean is ‘what’s the difference between the southern resorts and the northern ones?’ As there is only one main northern resort, that really means the southern resorts and Puerto de la Cruz.
I make this distinction because there is a massive difference between the main southern resorts (Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje & Playa de las Américas) and the towns in the hills behind them.
The most popular answer is the weather and whilst there’s no denying that there are differences, it isn’t the only one, or necessarily the most important. You can sunbathe in both the north and south of Tenerife at anytime of the year. There’s even a place in the north called Puntillo del Sol because it’s rare that the sun doesn’t shine on it. But the weather is generally better in the south (from a sunbathing rather than an agricultural point of view).
beaches, water sports, international dining, very diverse entertainment, lively clubbing and all the mod cons of a resort developed to meet the needs of visitors ranging from those looking for cheep ‘n’ cheerful fun in the sun to those looking for more sophisticated dining and entertainment. Only having existed since the second half of the 20th century the area doesn’t have a sense of history or traditional architecture.
Puerto de la Cruz has been around for centuries and therefore does have a sense of history and traditional old buildings, but not the levels of grand colonial architecture found in places like La Orotava or La Laguna. It was a town, or more accurately a port, first and foremost and because of that its streets exude a completely different atmosphere from those of Costa Adeje. Like the southern resorts, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, only in Puerto most are Spanish or Canarian; however, nightlife is a different kettle of fish. Many people think that it’s low key – not exactly an accurate assumption. The difference is that the nightlife is aimed at the local population, so a lot of live music bars don’t get going until late and aren’t frequented by most visitors. Much of the nocturnal fun is provided at open air fiestas. There are beaches (black sand), but no real water sports.
I have a litmus test; however, you have to visit Puerto de la Cruz to be able to apply it.
Stand for a few moments at Puerto’s harbour at 10am on any morning. If you do and think ‘okay, so what?’ the chances are you’ll enjoy the main southern resorts more. And if you’re more suited to the north…you’ll know it at that very moment.