Tenerife for Christmas

We can’t remember why we decided to go to Tenerife for Christmas – or when we booked it, exactly. Best we can remember, it was a long summer, lots of working (and Olympic partying, to be fair) but no break away. With two self employed types in the family, getting away from the house/office (same thing) from time-to-tme is a must.

After booking, I had serious reservations (I even wrote about my trepidation for parentdish); I imagined Tenerife to be a tacky resort island full of Brit bars and penis postcards. I thought the weather would be pleasant, but not sunbathe-able. I thought I’d miss the home comforts of Christmas. I couldn’t have been more wrong…

After the glorious week we had (temperatures soaring up to 27°C on a couple of days, but always above 22°C, perfect air quality, no mosquitos, swimming in the sea and pool every day, delicious food and beautiful, dramatic scenery) I would not hesitate to go again. In fact, we’re thinking of re-booking at our amazing hotel, the Bahia Princess on Playa Fanabe, for next Christmas – and maybe New Year too.

The food, the rooms, the entertainment…everything was perfect. Even the lovely Thomson reps made the holiday special – Graham kept us laughing by the pool on Christmas day and Rebekah is (would you believe) a fashion blogger who was always keen to discuss my outfits.

Landing at Gatwick last night in a gale wasn’t the best experience ever, and yes, there are plenty of tack-a-rama British pubs and bars out there, but dipping into all that when you feel like it is a giggle. And there’s so much to do on the island it’s easy to get away from the holidaymakers and explore the hidden side to Tenerife.

So, in the spirit of Fashion Detective’s travel section, here are our holiday highlights (with the fashion pics to follow on New Year’s Day).

Arriving at Tenerife South airport on December 21st, just a 20minute drive from our hotel. We were bowled over by the balmy evening temperature – I’m wearing H&M, but those tights didn’t stay on for long

People warned me that it wouldn’t feel like Christmas out there – but even the pool bar had its Santa hat on. Decorations were everywhere on the island – and they were beautiful

The Bahia Princess is a grand hotel indeed – you’ll read lots about those steps (all 52 of ’em) on Trip Advisor, but there is a lift

El was in the pool as soon as we arrived – the sun doesn’t set until around 6pm in December and the time zone is the same as the UK – we are talking perfection for families (and lovers of light)

El checks out the beautiful (and traditionally Spanish) Christmas crib scene by the pool

And I partied on the first night in another H&M dress with a sequin jacket and headband from Topshop (note: tights are off, outside, in December)

El explores the rocky coastline of Playa Fanabe – the black sand is soft and lots of fun for kids to play in

We soon found our fave bar – the Blue Cactus: cocktails and rock by the beach (I’m wearing 1960s vintage with a reindeer print cardigan = festive)

The sign of a good night

Can’t beat a bit of mini golf on the beach – on December 23rd

All that golf worked up our appetites – and it’s not all paella and tapas (and English breakfasts) in Tenerife. The Ganges Tandoori restaurant at Playa Fanabe is definitely worth a visit. Some of the best vegetable samosas I’ve ever had

Fish and chips – Indo-Spanish style. Absolutely blimmin’ gorgeous

Just in case the bodyboarding, glorious weather and delicious freshlycaught fish dinner eaten on the beach front make you forget it’s Christmas…

This enviable position, at Costa Adeje on the West side of the island, means you can enjoy the most spectacular sunsets

El enjoys watching the sun slide into the sea from the terrace of our sister hotel – the Guayarmina Princess

The Guayarmina Princess is just as super as our Bahia hotel – and as Princess guests, you can use the facilities (apart from the buffet restaurants) at both hotels. They are adjacent, to make popping from one to the other pretty easy

I cannot recommend a Canarias cocktail at sunset on the terrace bar at the Guayarmina Princess hotel highly enough

Time to explore the rest of the island…I don’t even want to think about what I’d usually have been doing on Christmas Eve (read: wrapping, last-minute shopping and stressing)

The waves – and the giant cliffs (rising from the sea to a height of 500-800 metres) – are awesome here at Los Gigantes – lots of body boarding (and pensioners being saved from certain death by the wearylooking lifeguard)

El plays it safe in the “shallow end” – but even here you’ll be knocked about in the water. Beautiful bay, well worth a visit, but be careful

Post-swim, traditional tapas: Canarian tortilla is made with almonds

It wouldn’t be tapas without chorizo, served by very friendly staff in the small but perfectly formed Tas-K tapas bar, seconds away from the bay

Tas-K also serves Ventresca, a traditional Canary Island tapas dish made with the soft belly of tuna fish and served with grilled peppers – absolutely delish. We also ate thinly sliced pork leg and a selection of (blow-your-head-off tasty) Canarian cheeses

And Christmas Eve night it was back to the Blue Cactus bar to see our new favourite band – Triple Trouble. They play classic rock covers here six nights a week, so do check them out

Fuelled by (blue) cocktails (see tongue for evidence) we hit the beach – just because it was Christmas Eve. And we could. I’m in a subtle combo of Fleur B silk shirt and Oasis printed jeans

And jeans rolled up for a little paddle in the sea? Why the heck not. You’ll notice that El’s Christmas message isn’t quite as wholesome as mine

Oh dear. Christmas Day dawns in the Wigan Pier British bar. Wooops….

Presents…what presents? This is how to spend Christmas morning

The highlight of El’s holiday – he was on that thing for hours with all the other kids staying in the hotel

No falling asleep in front of the TV after lunch: El built his own volcano and we sipped Sangria on sun loungers. A very merry Christmas indeed (note fag end – not ours, I hasten to add – acting as lava)

In the evening on Christmas Day, I hit the red carpet at the hotel for the gorgeous gala dinner (wearing vintage from Liverpool, natch)

El ended up on stage with Comedy Elvis (aka Kevin Isaac – brilliant act) in the evening – followed by a (very angry) Beatles tribute band

Such an amazing Christmas day

How do you follow that? You go high up above the clouds on Boxing Day, to reach the volcanic Mount Teide

Thar she blows (or not, thankfully)

If it’s not too windy or icy (and you’ve got a head for heights) you can ride a cable car almost to the summit to take in the breathtaking views. NB: I advise against wearing a summer dress and sandals, the full-on hikers – dressed for the sub-zero temperatures at the top – *will* laugh at you

They filmed parts of Planet of the Apes and Star Wars here at the foot of the mountain – you can see why. I’ve only seen a landscape to rival this in Death Valley

And for the final day? Lots of fun to be had at Aqualand – a free bus ran there regularly from our hotel, but it’s only a 20 minute walk away. Siam Park is the big attraction these days, a bigger water park with more spectacular rides: but it’s a lot more expensive and kids under-10 will have just as much fun here. All the slides are great for younger children and there’s a dolphin show too (at an additional charge)

Did El miss being at home for Christmas? No.

We stopped off at Harley’s American Diner on the way back to the hotel for a huge ice cream sundae (for him) and a pina colada (for me) – definitely worth calling in here if you visit Costa Adeje

El would like to recommend the Banana Berry non-alcoholic cocktail: kids love it at Harley’s

One last sunset for the road

And one last holiday outfit before we head off to the airport: It’ll be a while before I’m wearing anything like this again *sob*

But as it’s almost New Year’s Eve, and we’re back in London with all our friends and family, it won’t be long until I’m raising another glass of fizz. Here’s to a wonderful Christmas holiday – the first of many
Written by Johanna Payton