If there was one luxury in life I’d forgo all others to keep, it would be an annual foreign holiday. Yes, I can’t quite believe I’m typing these words, but I would happily (well, ok, maybe a little grumpily) give up my shoe and skirt collection if I could only ensure I got to fly off to sunnier climes at least once per year. It’s a pricey habit to keep these days for sure, but to me the benefits far outweigh the hit to my bank account! Life can be stressful and you have to make sure you take time to unwind, and for some reason, that only properly happens for me when I’m far, far away, the weather is beautiful and I have a vast expanse of water in the near vicinity to laze next to! I know I’m probably starting to sound like a bit of a brat with first world problems here now, but not getting to do this can have a severe impact on my general well being, leaving me feeling drained, irritable and pretty darn miserable. Which is exactly how I felt just a few short weeks ago in anticipation of my last trip! We had to take a different approach to holidays this year as we both had busy projects at work over the Summer meaning we had to wait until far later to book something, and by the time we flew it had been around 18 months since we last got on a plane. In some ways this was quite nice – I felt extremely smug indeed when it was finally my turn to jet off after having to watch colleague after colleague get their time in the sun! That sudden overnight transition though when we got back from baking hot temperatures to torrential rain and dark nights – which hadn’t yet drawn in at the point we flew out – was a bit of a shock to the system though, it has to be said! Still, it was a nice way to seemingly drag a few extra weeks out of the Summer.
The time of year also made a difference to where we chose to go. We’ve only been abroad together a couple of times before but both of us have usually spent our holidays (as opposed to the ‘proper’ travelling Dan has done across the globe) in the typical resorts in countries like Spain and Greece. We’re pretty compatible when it comes to our requirements – we like a nice combination of things to do, relaxation and some scenic views, and we’re also both happy to spend a little bit more money if it enhances the experience. We’re both quite open minded about where we go if it ticks these boxes, but this time we had some specific wishes – we had had an exhausting year, so wanted something hassle free, and most importantly, SUNNY! Obviously as the year rolls on, the number of countries with guaranteed good weather (that we can afford, anyway!) start to diminish rapidly, and we soon found ourselves looking at the Canaries. I’d been before, to both Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, while Dan hadn’t, so as somewhere new for him to experience and somewhere I had confidence we’d enjoy, it seemed like the perfect location for this years trip! And we certainly weren’t disappointed! Where we finally ended up – at Green Garden Golf Resort in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife – came down to Tripadvisor reviews in the end, so I can’t say we did a huge amount of research into where to stay when we booked. We knew it was the largest resort on the island, and we knew the hotel was highly rated, and that was about it! So off we jetted.
Top tip #1 – two of the more popular resorts, Playa de las Americas and Los Christianos, sit within 20km or 20 minutes of Tenerife South Airport. This trip will cost you somewhere in the region of £30 in a taxi, so when booking your trip, if you have optional transfers please bear this in mind. Our transfer experience was the one bad part of the 10 days, so I cannot stress this strongly enough! We touched down at around 6pm (there is no time zone difference to the UK which is a bonus) and had been reliably informed that the transfer time was around 90 minutes, which seemed like a long time for a 20km journey, but obviously there would be several drop offs on the way and it would still get us there in time to check in, freshen up and enjoy our first evening. The first issue was that we did not set off straight away. It was actually a full hour before we left the airport. Again, this was a little irritating, but we told ourselves was just one of those things. Unfortunately though, it just got worse from there. It became quite quickly apparent that our driver had no idea where he was going and there was no logical route planned. Nearly 2 and a half hours after setting off – after numerous u turns and even stopping to ask passers by for directions – we lost our patience and went in search of a taxi after seeing on Google maps that our hotel was just 4 minutes away. The final straw was when we passed a hotel we’d definitely already stopped at an hour earlier! We finally made it into reception at 9.15pm and just in time for dinner. We paid £25 each for return transfers, so it would have been slightly more expensive to get a cab both ways but I’d have far preferred to forgo the stress and get that extra night of our holiday – as it was, we were so frazzled that we simply ate and went straight to bed!
Thankfully everything from that point onwards was fantastic! So much so that I’ve got a separate post planned all about the hotel itself for a later day. For today I’m focussing mainly on the resort itself, and the main thing we couldn’t fail to notice was that this place is HUGE. Seriously, we did a whole lot of walking over the 10 days we were there and I’m not sure we even covered 50% of it! Every time we thought we’d seen everything we’d find another corner we hadn’t yet explored. On first impressions we weren’t overly impressed – we’d first happened upon a vast expanse of Irish pubs, sports bars and cheesy clubs that very much said ‘club 18-30s’ and reminded us of all those club rep reality TV shows that used to be on in the noughties (no offence if that sounds like your dream holiday, by the way, but that kind of thing is just really not our bag!) After a few days of exploring though we soon found there was far more to Playa de las Americas than the noisy, neon lights of the strip.
We’re more pool people than beach people, preferring an evening stroll by the sea as the sun sets to a day lounging on the sand, but we found plenty of picturesque ocean views to take in across it’s 6 beaches, some of which featuring the black volcanic sand I associate most with The Canaries. There were also plenty of things for us to get up to on the days when we were feeling a little less lazy. I have a few posts planned about some of the main activities we got up to while there – namely the famous Siam Park and an amazing road trip across the island – but essentially it caters for all tastes in that sense. There are a multitude of boat trips, excursions to beaches and other islands, mountain treks, water sports and parks, sand dune buggies, animal parks, paragliding, mini golf, snorkelling and diving – you name it. We even saw an advert for an Escape Room one day, though I can’t imagine why you’d want to spend a few hours indoors when the year-round sunshine is blazing (Tenerife has a 23 degree annual average, by the way, and the average temperature for us in late September/early October was around 27). Top tip #2 – if you decide you want to partake in some of these activities you will no doubt quickly find yourself completely overwhelmed at the sheer volume of choice. While it is definitely worth shopping around to get the best price, you could easily waste a few days trying to get around them all. We, as you know, are keen bargain hunters, but in the end we went with pretty much the first guide we spoke to, simply because we clicked with him and we felt he seemed very honest and trustworthy – we had seen some of the trips we took advertised slightly cheaper elsewhere, but we felt like we could rely on this guy if something went wrong, and what he gave us in local knowledge and advice on the everyday stuff – like where to eat and what route to take on our road trip – was invaluable. I only wish I’d made a note of his name so I could recommend him to you all, because his tips really made our trip top notch! On the subject of trips, if you fancy a boat trip I seriously recommend you steer clear of the cheap catamaran trips, which you’ll be sharing with vast amounts of other holidaymakers, and spend a little extra for the smaller scale yachts with fewer guests and less people to battle for views and space – we lucked out on our 12-man boat in that only us and another couple were booked on board, meaning we pretty much had it to ourselves and it was a really special day. More on that another day though!
Food wise, again, every taste is catered for here. I’ve never understood people that want to go abroad and only eat English food, but if that is you you’ll be more than satisfied. On top of that you can pretty much eat anything else your heart desires – Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian, Lebanese – the choice is endless. If anything, we actually found it harder than we thought we would to find some traditional Spanish or Canarian food! We didn’t eat out too much as we were all inclusive and the food at our hotel was excellent, but we did manage to track down a fantastic little restaurant called Friends on our last night where we enjoyed a fantastic selection of tapas. This place is very highly rated on Tripadvisor, and it wasn’t hard to see why – it’s a charming little spot a little out of the way of the main strip with views over the sea. Not only was the food and drink delicious and not at all expensive, the service was second to none. The bar was very busy when we arrived and the waiter was very keen to make sure a spot near the window opened up, moving us over there as quickly as he could despite our assurances that we really didn’t mind. We were really torn between some of the tantalising chicken satay skewers they had on offer, while really keen to make sure we’d had something a bit traditional, so they decided to cook us up a little dish of the chicken anyway to go with our other dishes so we didn’t miss out, which we thought was incredibly kind! It was awesome too!
Top tip #3 – Make sure you have spare baggage allowance for the trip home! Once we’d settled on The Canaries as a holiday destination I was immediately looking forward to seeing what bargains I could score at some of my favourite Spanish stores like Zara and Mango. I couldn’t for a moment have imagined just how amazing the shopping is there! I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said my tastes were catered for almost as well as they were in Barcelona! Not only was there a huge modern shopping centre just minutes from our hotel – Siam Mall – the town itself was also littered with big Brand names like Stradivarius, Pull & Bear and Bershka, as well as my aforementioned favourites. Needless to say, we had to be quite creative when packing for a journey home, as you can see from this post…!
All in all, we had a fantastic time there. After some of our explorations further afield we decided if we went back we might actually choose to stay in one of the quieter resorts north of the Island, because we’re boring like that, but it’s still getting a thumbs up from me. A fun and bustling resort that caters for all needs, and guaranteed to have some good weather all year round – what more could you need? Definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a bit of Winter sun this year!
Has anyone else ever been who has some top tips to share?