Located on northeast tip of Tenerife, the highland peninsula of Anaga offers a breathtaking landscape completely different from the remainder of the island. In stark contrast to the rocky slopes of volcano Teide – often compared to the surface of the Moon and used as the backdrop for many otherworldly film sequences – and even to the sunny, arid south, Anaga is a land of tall mountains often shrouded in mists and covered with a unique laurel rainforest. If you happen to be looking for more than the usual tourist fare, here’s a rundown of why Anaga Tenerife is so special and what you need to know to enjoy it fully.
1. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve:
Protected by the Spanish government for decades, Anaga was recognised by UNESCO in 2015: aside from being breathtakingly beautiful, the area is home to the largest population of endemic species in all of Europe. In fact, the laurels that dominate Anaga’s rainforest are unique to Tenerife, as is the famous dragon tree.
2. Some areas require access permits.
A few small sections of the reserve are under special protection due to their one-of-a-kind yet endangered ecosystems: Ijuana, El Pijaral, Monte de Aguirre, and Los Roques de Anaga.
There are two ways to work around this: you can either sign up for an organised tour (and have your permit taken care of by the tour company) or you can apply for a permit yourself. For more information check out this link or call the Anaga Rural Park Environmental Office at 922 633 576.
3. It’s remote, but authentic.
Being off the beaten tourist path has helped keep Anaga grounded in tradition. While the entire peninsula is a natural reserve, there are plenty of settlements nestled in the mountains. Life there is fairly simple and old-fashioned: while some locals cater to tourists, most are small-scale fishermen and farmers. The latter are to be thanked for one of Anaga’s splendid hallmarks – terraced fields.
The largest and best known villages are Taganana and Igueste de San Andrés, both with authentic local architecture. The village of San Andrés (not to be confused with Igueste de San Andrés) actually has the remains of an 18th-century guard tower that was instrumental in defending the settlement from pirates once upon a time, while the quaint Chinamada boasts a cave restaurant, aptly name La Cueva.
And if you’re into a bit of local lore, you might like to ask about the Witches of Anaga, as legends claim El Bailadero was once a haven for witchcraft.
4. Gorgeous hiking & biking trails.
While Tenerife offers a host of fantastic climbs, walks and views, there’s something special about stepping out from under a canopy of complete greenery only to see an expanse of rugged mountains and vast ocean at your feet.
One of the most famous miradores or lookouts in the park is Pico del Inglés, while the most famous hiking trail is Sendero de los Sentidos (the Trail of the Senses). The trail actually includes three different routes ranging from short and easy to moderately difficult, all of which end with the same scenic view.
For avid hikers willing to invest the extra effort required to get a permit, Roques de Anaga are one of the best places to sit and watch the sun set over the ocean.
5. Fantastic volcanic beaches, great for surfing.
In true Tenerife fashion, Anaga also has beautiful beaches and great winds that really work for all kinds of surfing.
The most famous of these is Benijo beach in Taganana, but there are many other secret beaches worth exploring along the coast. None of them are accessible by car, but some like Benijo or the beach in Igueste de San Andrés are only a short walk from the centre of the village.
6. Accommodation is available on site.
While the park is only a short drive from La Laguna, and not far from Santa Cruz either, it’s good to know that you don’t necessarily have to commute back and forth if you want to spend more than a day exploring the peninsula. While there’s a selection of villas and apartments available for booking online, there are also budget-friendly options like the Albergue Montes de Anaga Hostel as well as B&Bs in and around Taganana.