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Northern Tenerife

By Lewisg

It was to be the 1st week of December and we were looking for somewhere warm, but not to touristy and with direct flights from Scotland. The Canaries seemed to offer the best choice of flights and

Tenerife in particular was well served by low cost and charter operators.
We very rarely book package deals these days much preferring the flexibility and greater choice available by organising it yourself. We found a flight from Edinburgh with Ryan Air that suited us and booked that straight away. Then it was down to a few days on Travel Republic where eventually we stumbled across the small Northern town of Garachico and the Isla Baja Suites.

It was -3C when we left Edinburgh so it was a pleasant surprise to find it was sunny and warm at 23C when we arrived at Tenerife South. For up to a weeks trip we never check in bags so it was more or less straight in to our waiting Avis car and off.
Going clockwise is the shorter route but the road is very tricky in places. It is possible to go by motorway almost all the way by going ant clockwise but if you are going to be driving around the North you will end up on some very tricky roads so you may as well get used to them early on.
At the time of writing there is a lot of new road building and it would seem that the plan is to extend the motorway all the way around.

Garachico sits at the base of a 1500ft cliff and the decent is very tricky indeed but offers great views of the town below its just a pity that you as the driver will be unable to enjoy them as you will be to busy concentrating on the road. The locals take it in their stride and I'm sure must get very frustrated with slow moving tourists. 


There is a viewpoint close to the top and a stop there is well recommended. From here you can get some great views of the town bellow and the new marina to the East of town and the Volcano de Taco to the West. The whole area below you is the “Isla Baja” or low lying island and this where our accommodation gets its name. At the bottom you join the TF 42 coastal road its right for Garachico but if you were to head left for a few kilometres you would find the Altesa supermarket on your right, essential if you are intending to do any self catering. Garachico itself does have some small fruit and veg shops and convenience stores. Part of its charm is that the shops seem to try to look as if they are anything but shops.

The Suites were relatively easy to find but parking may not always be available by the door however you can usually find something close by. Streets in Garachico are narrow and are mostly one way only but don't offer any great problems.

Isla Baja Suites

The Isla Baja Suites are in a recently restored 18th traditional Tenerife house. The rooms are all on the first or second floor built around an inner courtyard which has now been enclosed with a glass roof. It is here that the excellent Pattisserie is located. This is a separate business from the suites but it is where you get breakfast. We also enjoyed a few lunches there. One slight drawback is that the reception office is only open until 2pm. I don't know what you are supposed to do if you arrive later but arrival time was something which the owners contacted us through Travel republic about several times.


There are only six suites and some do face on to the narrow street behind so if you want the sea view you pay extra, we did and were delighted to get suite five which has a full length balcony.
The standard is very high, our suite had a spacious bed room and bathroom with rainfall shower. A large living dining room leading on to the balcony and a small kitchen which had everything you would need if you wanted to cook a few meals. The only thing missing was a kettle and an English news channel on the TV. There is WIFI throughout including the Pattisserie.

Garachico is mostly unspoilt by tourism, yes it is busy with day trippers but there is limited overnight accommodation so the streets tend to be quiet at night.
Garachico used to be the principle port of Tenerife until 1706 when it lost much of its seafront to a lava slide. It is said to be one of the unluckiest towns in the world as , it has also suffered fires, floods, violent storms, Bubonic plague and plagues of Locusts. As said fortunately it has been spared the plagues of Tourists. As we say in Scotland it certainly “hasn't had its troubles to seek”
Every cloud as they say has a silver lining and the lava pools are an example of that. Paths have been built around them and ladders provided turning them in to all fresco swimming pools.
Just be sure to have something on your feet though if you do decide to take the plunge.


Between the Suites and the Lava pools is the The Castle of San Miguel. 

Castle of San Miguel

This fortification was built to protect Garachico when it was a major port: ironically it survived the eruption which ended its usefulness. There is a very informative display inside outlining the history of Garachico but its mostly in Spanish so a phrase book may be a good idea for non speakers.
Staying by the sea there is a promenade which to the East takes you about a mile to the new Marina this is a pleasant way to spend a few hours and you can walk around the apparently ridiculously high protecting sea wall. Perhaps they know something we don't.
To the West you head out of town passing the only beach like area in town and that's mainly volcanic ash. At the top of hill there is a little café with an excellent view back over town.
Just behind the main intersection close to the suites is a charming little square here can be found the the sea gate which was the entrance to the port.

sea gate

From there its just a short stroll to The main plaza of La Libertad which is absolutely stunning and said to be the most beautiful in Tenerife .
Here you will find what used to be the convent of San Francisco De Asis but is now a museum and cultural centre, well worth a visit. There is a kiosk in the middle with a band stand on top. We stooped there for a drink one night on the way back from a restaurant and it was very quiet and peaceful there was enough light to sit and read a book if you wanted to. We were fortunate to witness what I can only presume to be a the regular ceremony of the closing of the kiosk. Sharp on Ten o'clock the barman put on a tune and after a short while it became clear what was playing and the penny dropped as it became clear that “its time to say goodbye” was the tune playing as he started to clear the tables and chairs, an international message in any language.

There are a wide range of good restaurants in Garachico but not much in the way of night-life so if you are looking for a tourist strip with themed bars and discos then this is very much not the place for you. On the other hand if you are looking a good base with good restaurants and very few of your fellow countrymen then this is the place to be. We stayed for a week but it seems that a lot of our fellow residents were only there for a few days. We did go out of town most days but we could equally have sat on the balcony or in the square reading a book. Seriously if you need to get away from it all for a while and just forget about work then this place is ideal.
Weather wise it was above 20C every day and we didn't see any rain but I guess we were lucky.

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