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5 Kid-Friendly Activities on Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands

by Barbara Rogers

Jan 29, 2020

Dorinmarius | Dreamstime.com

Age Specific / Kids

Tenerife is the best known of Spain’s Canary Islands, an archipelago 600 miles off the Iberian coast. It’s sometimes called “Europe’s Caribbean” for its beautiful beaches (you can read about them here), but the island offers many other attractions kids love:

 

Watch Dolphins Play at Loro Parque

Part marine park, part zoo and part tropical garden, the prize-winning Loro Parque features multiple daily shows with sea lions, parrots and orcas, but the biggest kid-pleaser is the dolphin show. A pod of these highly intelligent sea mammals literally jumps through hoops to delight audiences with precision swimming, diving and jumping. They perform somersaults and tailspins in mid-air, swim in underwater formations and even act as surfboards for park staff.

 

Elsewhere, an artificial iceberg cools a large colony of penguins, and pelicans, fish and pink flamingoes walk through the shallow waters. Rare jaguars are a highlight of the land zoo, where animals live in naturalized environments (more than 7,000 palm trees grow here). Residents include monkeys, gorillas, lions, tigers and a rainbow of tropical birds. A free express bus runs every 20 minutes from Puerto de la Cruz waterfront.

 

Get Wet at Aqualand

If the kids want to cavort in the water themselves, take a trip to Aqualand, where there are splash-down rides, water slides and tunnels, pools and places to cool off in the water. There are separate rides designed for younger children. The dolphin show, included in the admission price, is more attuned to learning about the habits of the animals with less emphasis on performance. Located on the south shore of the island, Aqualand is easy to reach on free buses from Los Cristianos and Playa Las Americas.

 

Ride a Camel at Camel Park

Camels have been used traditionally on Tenerife since introduced in the 1600s. Their ability to survive without water made them valuable to farmers and for transport in the volcanic interiors of these arid islands. Although replaced by motorized transport, they have become a local icon and there are now as many as 1,200 on the Canary Islands. Camel Park was Tenerife’s first camel breeding center, on a banana farm in 1988, and they still offer the best camel-riding experience, with well-treated animals and trails through a natural environment. Adults and older children can ride astride on camel saddles, while younger ones can ride in seats. Most places offering camel rides have seats, which sit in pairs at either side of the camel’s hump.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Photo: Stillman Rogers

 

Meet Mummies

Yes, real ones and up close at Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre — Museum of Nature and Man. The Guanches, original island inhabitants, mummified their dead and despite efforts of the early religious orders to destroy them, a few of the mummies survived and are dramatically displayed and well interpreted. Exhibits (ask for the English translation cards) show how skeletons can tell historians about the life, work, diseases and diet of long-ago peoples. Sea life exhibits are also good — kids like the giant squid suspended overhead — and other exhibits explore the island’s volcanic origins. The museum is in the capital city of Santa Cruz, a short walk from the central bus station.

 

Build Castles from Sahara Sand

Most of Tenerife’s beaches, although beautiful for sunbathing, are open to Atlantic surf and not great for small children or less accomplished swimmers. Playa de las Teresitas, five miles from central Santa Cruz, was built for local families, without the hotels and tourist congestion of the popular international beaches. The long crescent beach is protected by artificial barrier reefs, partially enclosing a lagoon of gentle waters welcoming to snorkelers and swimmers.

 

The sand was brought in from the Sahara Desert, not all that far away from these Atlantic islands. The long, gradual incline into the water makes it ideal for wading children. Changing rooms and showers are free and guests can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, while kiosks sell drinks, snacks and lunches. Apart from the beautiful beach, families love the informal, casual atmosphere of a beach populated by friendly local people happy to share their beach. You can get there by local bus from Santa Cruz.

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