There are so many reasons to visit Tenerife and the Canary Islands. The sweet air, perfect temperatures, beaches, nightlife, cycle rides and hiking trails, are all great reasons to visit in their own right. But, what ultimately makes the island an irresistible destination, is the sea and the marine life that sustains it.
From both an ecological and tourism perspective, the sea around Tenerife has so much to offer. The whole family can enjoy the activities and experiences that have captivated visitors to this island for decades.
If you are looking for ways to incorporate ocean life into your next trip to the islands, here are some travel tips that are sure to make you connect with your inner mermaid (or mer-man)!
The perfect environment for sea life
The Canaries were originally volcanic islands formed by what is called the Canary hotspot. Because of their volatile history, there are steep ocean cliffs – both above and below the water. The jagged landscape is the perfect habitat for some of the rarest marine life species on the planet.
The islands support a mixture of North Atlantic, Mediterranean and common species. Fish species found in the islands include many species of shark, ray, and moray eels. There are also cleverly-named sea life like scorpionfish, triggerfish, grouper, goby, and blenny. Nestled in the rocks, chasms and canyons of the rocky underwater landscape, are many invertebrate species including sponges, jellyfish, anemones, crabs, mollusc, sea urchins, starfish, and varieties of coral.
Perhaps the most famous resident of the Canary Islands are the sea turtles. The endangered loggerhead sea turtle has been known to make appearances in the local waters along with green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, and the Kemp's ridley sea turtle. Other creatures you might catch a glimpse of are pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins!
Documenting the Canaries’ sea life
Oceana, a marine conservation group, has done extensive research in the region and since 2009, scientists, divers and local environmental advocates have been working to better understand the underwater world of the Canaries.
Using underwater robots, the group explored the canyons around the islands. At depths of more than 2,000 metres, the sea “mountains” to the north of the Canary Islands – called Dacia and Tritón – were documented for the first time in history, showing extensive forests of black corals and a great diversity of sponges.
“These mountains could be considered as the ‘other’ Canary Islands” said Helena Álvarez, a marine scientist. “Spain should study and protect these seamounts…it could provide Europe with an extensive marine protected area where dozens of seamounts would be home to one of the richest and most diverse faunas on the planet.”
Attractions inspired by the sea life
As a resort destination, Tenerife and the Canary Islands offer the promise of joy and relaxation, and are enjoyed by thousands of European travellers every year. There are plenty of beaches, restaurants and other activities to enjoy, but there are also some great attractions that embrace the aquatic life of the islands.
Loro Parque is home to a fantastic aquarium where visitors can marvel at the sea life of the Canary Islands up close; the park’s Shark Tunnel brings you face to face with some of the ocean’s most fearsome predators! Loro Parque is a great family friendly attraction as it promotes celebration of the natural world in a fun and educational environment. When you visit Loro Parque, make sure to see the amazing Orca Ocean exhibit where killer whales show off their incredible skills alongside the playful dolphins. You can also meet the family of 200 penguins at the park’s Planet Penguin.
There is also much more to see at Loro Parque besides the sea life, the park is home to a spectacular array of animals including gorillas, jaguars, , tigers, meerkats, and more! Walk through their amazing and authentic tropical landscape to see animals from all parts of the world.
Another popular Tenerife attraction is Siam Park, an aquatic-themed playground which can be found on the southern tip of Tenerife, a popular beach holiday destination. Voted one of the Top 10 reasons to visit Tenerife by The Telegraph, this Thailand-themed water park includes giant water slides and incredible adrenaline-inducing rides including the Dragon and the Tower of Power, which has a near-vertical 90 foot from that leads into an underwater tunnel, definitely not one for the faint-hearted!
As Tenerife’s latest and biggest theme park, it is an attraction certainly worth including in your travel itinerary. If heights and slides aren’t your thing, you can relax in the wave pool, take a lazy ride down the Mai Thai River in a rubber boat, or simply catch some rays whilst the younger kids splash around in the specially-designed wading pools. Siam Park is a true favourite for visitors to the island, and is an adventure that the whole family will remember and want to return to.
Both parks are owned by the same company and are duly committed to environmental conservation, thus, they have endeavoured to create a theme park experience that honours the marine environment of the Canaries. From water conservation to renewable energy, the parks aim to be as supportive to the natural environment as possible.