Here you are, kids and all, ready for your long-awaited holiday. So much to see, so much fun to have, so relaxed to be! This is going to be such a great adventure for the kids: beach, sand, ocean, pool, water slides, marine life, perfect weather. You already see yourself on the sunbed, cold drink in one hand, sand free swimsuit on, you’ll get that tan, read that book, all cheerful and relaxed. Great hat, by the way! Yeah… we all tell ourselves that little lie: ‘insanity now, serenity later, once we get there, it’s all fun and chill, we’re on holiday, only sunshine and rainbows ahead of us’. And mostly it is, or it could/should be. I love all holidays and get always with my kids. We would often be spontaneous and get out of our bubble to do something unplanned, and nothing bad really happens.

Except for the times when I make expectations. I picture myself walking so Jennifer Aniston-ish in a white, stain-free dress along the beach, pacing weightless (that is, without the three backpacks with toys, towels, and everything else you may need in case of a zombie apocalypse, leaving you to resourceless on the beach) with my kids, waves gently at our feet, laughter and joy, love and understanding. You’ve all seen that postcard, right? Then, what it seems to me like Leslie hurricane totally rains on my parade: I’m hungry, I need to go to the bathroom, he threw sand at me, wait up for your brother to say goodbye to the dolphin-shaped trash bin he’s been hugging for the last 10 minutes. Out of my picture, back into ours. That’s how I keep calm and going. I don’t have any recommendations for this; we all do the best we can. However, I can think of a few places to go to, things to do in Tenerife to have your kids’ curiosity and energy tanks filled up. Luckily, they’ll be in bed by 8 pm and you can finish that adult conversation you started at 10 am, tried to continue at 2.30 pm, and gave up any chance of resuming it by diner. 

Here’s what I suggest, knowing the island, a bit about kids and plenty about holidays. Kids love the beach and messing around in the water just as much as they love playing in the pool. Smaller ones feel a bit overwhelmed by the sea, although they have a blast at the pool. Obviously, I’m going to recommend a combination of the two, with the added thrills of water slides and playgrounds.

Siam Park – The place to book for a one-day pool, beach, water slides, fun, and adrenaline is SIAM PARK

This themed waterpark is a guaranteed full day out, for kids of all ages, toddlers, and babies. You will find the beach, the pool, the rides, the sun, the shade, the food, the restrooms, the chaos, and the serene all in one place. Join the older kids on the rides, find shade and quiet with your baby who needs some rest, takes the toddler to their designated playgrounds or just lay in the sun, by the pool and jump in on the uproar the wave machine creates every other 30 minutes. I promise you will find it all there. Haven’t heard one kid complain about spending a day at Siam, but I do occasionally see the frustration in parents’ eyes for not getting to take that second Singha ride.

Siam is a one-day, out in the sun, energy-consuming adventure. Therefore, for the following day, I would suggest something to take the heat off a bit, literally, give your skin a chance to nicely take in that tan and your energy to level up. That’s where LORO PARQUE comes in. This animal park is what I think of as not a zoo. We don’t like seeing captive animals at zoos and don’t usually go for this type of activity. With Loro, we felt it’s a different approach, deeper care for endangered animals, a good cause serving a higher purpose in an existing messy situation: orcas rescued from the ocean, adapting equipment and techniques to communicate with the ones with native malformations. Anyway, it’s a personal call whether to visit it or not. What I can tell you is that

Loro Parque is a huge animal park, you’ll be spending a whole day there, you have several animal shows to choose from

Plenty of walks to take between the shows and spot other animals. It’s quite impressive and the wow effect on kids will stick around all day long. There’s also a very nice playground and a small Montagne Rousse for them to enjoy. You can take this visit as an opportunity for kids to discover and learn new things. If you’re up for the two parks, Loro and Siam, buy a twin ticket and save some money for ice cream inside the park. 

Watch dolphins and whales swim freely and peacefully in the ocean

When spending your holiday on an island, the time dedicated to the sea is a must, especially in the Canary Islands, the most important European destination for whale watching. In Tenerife, you get to see whales and dolphins in freedom throughout the year. There are plenty of options for you to choose from when it comes to a boat tour. Our recommendation is to book licensed boats committed to offering quality time while ensuring respectful and minimal impact on the environment. The second most important aspect, I recommend choosing small boats so you do not miss contact and explanations from the crew. We’ve tried several tours and now we have a favorite.

Monte Cristo Catamaran is our first option, because with them we found people passionate about the sea and the cetaceans, wanting to share their knowledge and enjoy the tour in a respectful way. We also chose comfort and space when we went with them: maximum 22 persons on board, with plenty of space to move around, a feeling of privacy and ease, both for the kids and the adults. We saw a large family of short-finned pilot whales, just minding their business around our boat, as we stood in complete silence to catch their next move.

The tour lasts for 3 hours and it includes drinks and snacks onboard, a stop for a swim, and plenty of information from the knowledgeable crew. Take the first tour in the morning or the last one in the afternoon, to enjoy the rest of the day in Los Cristianos, maybe at the beach. I would suggest Las Vistas Beach, where you can also find a variety of restaurants, stores and try some water sports. Or, you can always explore some more. A 25 km ride to or from Puerto Colón will take you to Los Gigantes, beach, and cliffs in Santiago del Teide, part of Teno County Park. The impressive cliffs tower up to 600 m high, plunging straight down into the sea to create a dizzying sight. The beach is small, but lovely, with black sand and big stones. Within walking distance, you will also find the port where you can have a good lunch or diner.

Sea to the mountain, sand to clouds, desert to the moon, this is how I would briefly describe a ride to the Teide Volcano in Tenerife

It’s in the middle of everything, so you will get there within an hour from anywhere on the island. Why do I recommend it for activities with kids? Unless they are under 5 (in which case, they are not allowed to climb the cable car), this is an experience they will surely love.

The route there will take you through such diverse and stunning scenery. Stop at one of the viewpoints as close to the cable car base as possible, and have them pick up a giant rock that weighs almost nothing, climb the cable car to Pico Viejo, up to 3.555 m high, take a walk around, gets a glimpse of other islands and feel the heat from beneath the volcanic stones.

This is a medium-level difficulty tour, which would take about two and a half hours plus the ride. No matter how many times I’ve done this trip, the climb to El Teide is still something especially exciting. No matter how many times you visit it, its landscape always surprises you.

Visiting El Teide can be an experience for the whole day: climbing the cable car, touring the park, taking a path and walking a little, visiting the interpretation centers and the multiple viewpoints, visit the Teide Observatory. We’re looking forward to taking the kids on a sunset and astronomic tour. If yours are 8 or more, take into account this adventure. They would get to visit the world’s largest solar observatory and stargaze by night with telescopes on one of the viewpoints of Teide National Park. 

After much consideration, my fifth recommendation for your family holiday in Tenerife would have to be a day in Santa Cruz, the capital of the island. It’s not because we live here that I really consider it a must-see of Tenerife, it’s because it makes day-to-day life seem like an everlasting holiday. So, I’m thinking, if living here and seeing it every day feels so amazing, how could it not be a great one-day holiday stop?

As a tourist, this is how I’d approach this destination: get to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, take the city view bus, from Plaza de España, get down at Parque García Sanabria and let the kids explore it; get back on and check out some of the attractions at stop 10, have a coffee and ice-cream outside, on the terrace of the Auditorio, hop back on, and if you’re there before 2 pm, definitely stop at the market, Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África, taste some exotic fruit, like cherimoya or pitaya (dragon fruit) and have to brunch in the fish section below.

The market is so colorful and lively; you will find a great variety of products and be amazed by the festive feeling you get just by walking around. Make it a cultural trip and don’t hesitate to make brief stops at the Museo T.E.A.T. just across the street from the market, they have a MiniTea section as well, where children can play around and make their own art, the architectural design of the library is quite striking as well.

Steps away from TEA, you will find the Museum of Nature and Man (Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre). It’s an interesting tour to learn a bit about the islands, the volcanoes and to discover the most important collection existing on the culture of the “guanches”, the native people living here before the arrival of the first European settlers. The last stop will have to be the House of Carnival (Casa del Carnaval).

I had no idea the carnival was such a big deal here until I got to see it. IT’S REMARKABLE. If you’re not here in February or March, you may get a feeling about how huge this event is by seeing the collection of costumes and trying on some of the best outfits from last year at Casa del Carnaval. You can walk back to Plaza España, via Calla La Noria, have diner at one of the restaurants there, take the pedestrian route to check out the commercial area, too. There are some local fashion stores totally worth your attention. 

This came out a bit longer than I expected. It was quite challenging to stick to only 5 incredible things to see and try in Tenerife. However, your holiday is probably 7 or 9 days long, you want to disconnect from the to-dos and relax, not hurry from one side of the island to the other, to check-in in as many places as possible. Still, I can’t help it. There are a couple of things I truly need to tell you about. If you get to Santa Cruz and still want to enjoy a couple of hours of sun and beach, go to Playa De Las Teresitas. It’s 15 minutes away from the city center, by car, and you will love it. This is one of the largest beaches on the island, artificially created with golden sand brought from the Sahara desert, the best water for kids ever, shallow, no big waves, terraces to have a snack and gold drinks, you can hire sun lounges and umbrellas. 

And one final, extra recommendation, promise. Want to see a bit more of the island but wouldn’t really move too often, too far from the pool? Then, I suggest a JEEP SAFARI experience. Kids are allowed on it, you can book a 4X4 open-top Jeep with a driver or a VIP tour by minivan, dedicate half a day or an entire day to explore and get to know a lot about the island, from very knowledgeable guides, in a very relaxing trip. No need to drive around, plan, figure out what’s next. Just a discovery tour of some must-see places in Tenerife: Masca, Teide, Arona, Vilaflor…

Any trip from the North to the South means about one hour drive, so make sure you organize it wisely. I’ll divide these recommendations according to location. 

In the South, you have Siam Park in Costa Adeje and the Whale and Dolphin Watching in Puerto Colón, Los Cristianos. 

Pretty much in the middle of the island, you’ve got the Teide National Park. 

In the North: Loro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz; Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Playa de Las Teresitas in San Andres.

Remember you can call us or leave a comment below with any questions you may have, and most important fun isn’t something that is given or done to you. It is something that you allow yourself to experience. So, let the fun begin!