Aside from being home to a vibrant, fun-loving culture – epitomized by its annual carnival – Tenerife is one truly beautiful piece of land. Blessed with perennial great weather, clear oceans teeming with wildlife, minimal pollution and a variety of microclimate zones packed into a small space, the island holds everything from endless sandy beaches to snow-covered mountain peaks, valleys, ravines, cliffs and even rainforests. And the cherry on top? A host of amazing volcanic rock formations which, courtesy of Tenerife’s volcanic origin, are strewn across the island’s landscape – underground and underwater included.
1. Roques de García
Tenerife’s most famous above-ground volcanic rock formations are by far Roques de García, situated in the Teide National Park. Remnants of an ancient volcanic crater wall, these fantastically shaped rocks are 170,000 years old and dot the moon-like landscape of enormous volcano Teide.
The Roques include a wide variety of gorgeous sights, the most iconic of which by far is the Roque Cinchado, also known as the ‘Stone Tree’ or ‘God’s Finger’. Eye-catching from afar, the stone can truly be appreciated only from a closer view, which allows you to see its wondrous, colorful layers. Other must-sees are ‘La Catedral’ and the imposing rock cliffs of Ucanca.
2. Cueva del Viento
One of the best examples of Tenerife’s underground wonders is Cueva del Viento i.e. ‘Cave of the Wind’, located in north Tenerife near Icod de los Vinos. One of the longest lava tubes in the world, the cave is actually an 18-km long labyrinth of tunnels on three levels – a phenomenon so far unique in the world. It derives its name from the strong drafts that blow along its corridors, many of which have yet to be explored.
3. La Rapadura
The volcanic rock known as basalt has a peculiar trait: if formed under the right conditions, it naturally shapes into surreal-looking columns. Drop those columns on the ocean floor and – voila! – you get a fantastic underwater citadel like La Rapadura. Located at a depth of 45 m near La Quinta in northern Tenerife, anyone remotely interested in diving should not miss the opportunity to explore this site. (Catch a glimpse in the video below!)
4. The Garachico Lava Tube
Several kilometers west of Icod de los Vinos lies the scenic Garachico – and some 500 m off the small town’s coast is Tubo Garachico, an underwater companion to Cueva del Viento. While it cannot compete in size with Cueva’s vast underground network, Garachico’s 150-meter lava tube is nevertheless impressive: it holds a wealth of sea life, including brittle stars, feather stars, crabs, shrimp, sea urchins, colorful sea slugs and a multitude of fish, while the volcanic passage itself contains enough grottoes, caves and arches to warrant the interest of any experienced cave diver.
5. The Volcanic Reefs of Montaña Amarilla
Another site submarine explorers should make sure not miss is the volcanic reef of Montaña Amarilla, in southern Tenerife. A veritable diver’s playground, it’s got spires, arches, caves… you name it — and all that’s home to an explosion of wildlife. An added benefit is that the ocean is not too deep in the bay, making this breathtaking underwater landscape accessible to less experienced divers as well.