The largest and the most populous of the Canary Islands is home to a whopping 212 miles of shoreline and some of the best beaches in the chain. In the north, they are rugged and wild, dropping from high cliffs to surf-bashed sands that bring in the board riders. Out east, they crumple into black-rock coves and open inlets that draw divers and snorkelers. But what about the best beaches in south Tenerife?
Cue this guide. It’s whittled the selection – which is a hefty selection at that – down to just seven places that we think are sure to get the wanderlust stoked for your trip to the great island this year. It includes bustling resort beaches backed by big hotels but also remote sand stretches where you can get a taste of seclusion on the Atlantic.
Generally speaking, all of the best beaches in south Tenerife get busier in the peak seasons of summer and midwinter. They also happen to be some of the busiest beaches in the whole of the region, mainly thanks to the proximity of big resort towns like Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas. On the flip side, all that makes them eminently accessible and well supplied with family amenities. Let’s take a closer look…
Playa Las Vistas
Bridging the gap between the two most famous and popular resort towns – Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas – on the southwest side of Tenerife, Playa Las Vistas is a forever favorite among sun seekers in these parts. It flaunts a coveted Blue Flag rating for its water quality and arcs before a long promenade within walking distance of many hotels and restaurants.
We won’t pretend that this will be a bout of wild Canarian coastline. It won’t be. Playa Las Vistas is usually packed to bursting with tanning bodies and swimmers, particularly during key holiday months like June, July, and August. The one upshot to that is the presence of loads of amenities. The beach is manned by regular lifeguard patrols, there are snack bars on site, and rows of sunbeds for rent.
We’d 100% recommend hanging around the playa here for the sunset. The southwesterly orientation of the beach means that the visions of the sun dipping on the horizon are second to none, and there are plenty of nearby venues for that hard-earned evening aperitif.
Playa del Duque
Playa del Duque is the jewel in the crown of the Costa Adeje. It’s one of the last beaches in southern Tenerife before the colossal cliffs of the Los Gigantes run begin to take over. However, it’s still far enough from the bustling heart of Playa de las Américas to be a touch quieter than some of the other playas on this list.
The area behind Playa del Duque is totally dominated by sprawling hotel resorts with palm-topped pool areas. From the Iberostar Grand to the Gran Tacande, there are plenty of places to stay within walking distance of the sands, all perfectly primed for both family and honeymoon trips to the Canaries.
The beach itself clocks up around 400 meters in length. It’s protected by a rocky headland that glows rust red at its south end and a series of manmade breakwaters a few hundred feet out at sea. All that helps to calm the dominant Atlantic swells and keep it accessible for younger swimmers on the inside of the bay. It also means there’s some pretty good snorkeling on offer to boot.
Playa de la Tejita
Taking us away from the hubbub of the resort strip that sprawls down the southwestern tip of the island, Playa de la Tejita strings up the southeastern edge of Tenerife in a run of black-beige sand. It’s wide and windblown much of the time, tumbling down from clusters of oat-topped dunes to an ocean that froths with powerful shore breaks.
What you get here is a taste of the wilder side of the southern part of the isle. There’s no backdrop of big hotels; no people-packed promenade with beer-sloshing bars. Instead, you can come to laze on largely empty sand, swim in rougher waters (beware of rips and undertows, though!), and even hike to lookout points on the cliffs overhead.
Playa de la Tejita isn’t totally without development. There are some groups of sunbeds to be enjoyed on the south side of the bay, along with a few streets’ worth of rental cottages in an urbanization about a hundred meters behind.
Playa del Médano
We don’t think there’s a self-respecting list of the best beaches in south Tenerife out there that could possibly skip Playa del Médano. This scythe of golden sand has risen and risen to become one of the most family-friendly strands in the whole archipelago. Much of that is down to the low-key resort that anchors it to the north, but there’s also something to be said for the accessible water and the unbusy nature of it all.
A Blue Flag accreditation ensures that Playa del Médano comes up trumps on the water quality front. What’s more, there are two sides to the beach. One, closest to the town, is more built-up and has bars on offer. The other, further away, is almost completely secluded and even offers space for sunbathing without the swimwear if you so wish.
Certain months can see Playa del Médano turn into a mecca for surf and windsurf, and the bay even hosts international water sports competitions on occasion. You’ll need to check if those are in town if you want to find space to yourself because it will get busy when they’re happening.
Playa de los Abriguitos
Playa de los Abriguitos is probably just about as far north as we could push it and still keep this list all about the best beaches in south Tenerife. The bay – a small inlet of black sand under a halo of salt-sprayed rocks – is actually in Abades, a legendary dive site some 17 miles from the southern end of the island.
However, it really is worth a mention, mainly for the world-class snorkeling that awaits. Yep, this one is a doozy if you’re coming with the bubble pipe and the goggles in tow. A short walk into the water and you’ll be immersed in sea meadows where turtles and triggerfish play. Venture further out and you can hit reefs inhabited by octopuses and urchins.
The beach itself gets good shelter from the westerly swells in the winter, so usually has relatively calm waters. There’s a small town behind, home to some of Tenerife’s most acclaimed dive schools and PADI outfitters.
Playa de Los Cristianos
Ask any veteran of southern Tenerife holidays and they’re likely to sing the praises of Playa de Los Cristianos. This is the main beach of the resort of the same name, which is now firmly established as one of the go-to family vacation centers in Spain, let alone just the Canaries. It’s even been hailed as the archipelago’s answer to Blackpool Beach in the UK!
You’ll get all the hustle and bustle you’d expect of a place with those credentials – think a long promenade that’s positively brimming with places to eat and drink, along with oodles of hotels and guesthouses within walking distance.
There’s lifeguard coverage on Playa de Los Cristianos for much of the season, although the waves are usually very calm here thanks to the protecting harbor walls and breakwaters. Interestingly, the western side of the bay is home to a port that offers ferry links out to other islands like La Gomera and La Palma.
Last but most certainly not least is the eye-wateringly stunning cove of Playa Abama. This bijou dash of golden sand is where Tenerife does its best impression of the Portuguese Algarve. High cliffs hem it in on both side, a small cluster of cottages top the rocks, seas of turquoise and emerald green roll in front – you get the picture.
The rugged shores to the north and south of Playa Abama hide a series of rock pools and tide pools where you can go crab hunting and bathing. There are also clifftop paths that offer some pretty gorgeous walking routes to and from nearby beaches like Playa San Juan.
Playa Abama is a good pick for families and less-experiences swimmers thanks to the cluster of natural rocks that rise just at the entrance of the cove. They tame the oncoming west swells and mean that the inside of the bay is more like a swimming pool that the great Atlantic itself.
The best beaches in south Tenerife – our conclusion
From the soaring heights of the Teide National Park this dusty isle falls to one seriously stunning coastline. Altogether, it offers over 200 miles of beautiful shore, which oscillates from black-stone coves filled with corals to sweeping runs of sand backed by bustling bars. Generally speaking, the best beaches in south Tenerife are a bit more like the latter at spots like Playa de Los Cristianos and del Duque, though it’s still possible to find remoter runs, at Playa Abama and the snorkel haven of Playa de los Abriguitos, for example.