While a day at one of Tenerife's excellent beaches is certainly a wonderful option, you should definitely aim to get out and about and explore the many other wonderful features that its impressive coastline offers.
Maybe you simply want a relaxing holiday with nothing too action packed? Well unlike other more energetic activities, there are plenty of more tranquil ways to enjoy the many awesome sights that this island boasts. One of these is a beautiful walk between the picturesque fishing town of Playa San Juan and the genuinely breath-taking Los Gigantes.
This walk is brilliant for those that want to take in the sights, sounds and general ambience of the coastline and ocean, plus is perfect if you want to continue to top up your tan while getting some exercise. First of all, if you have never visited Playa San Juan before it is certainly worth visiting for a day, or as somewhere to stay for a couple of nights or more!
What's great about Playa San Juan is that because there is no hotel or resort there, it has managed to retain its authentic traditional atmosphere. While it is becoming more popular among tourists, it has certainly not been inundated and there are plenty of comfortable holiday apartments.
The walk to Los Gigantes harbour is about 8.5km and should take around 1.5 - 2 hours. It is best not to go on this walk during the very middle and hottest part of the day. Whenever you choose to go though, you should certainly take a hat, sunglasses, sun cream and wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing. Most of the walk is flat and easy, but there are parts when flip flops or sandals would certainly make the going trickier.
After you reach the edge of Playa San Juan, past the tiny village of Fonsalia heading north towards Los Gigantes, many tourists don't realise that where the paved pathway ends you can still carry on along a stony pathway to the next town of Alcalá. This small section of the route is where a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers are certainly a wise choice, as you will go up and down some small stony hills.
It's a really interesting little route as on one side there are banana plantations with bunches of bananas ripening on the trees, then to your left there is a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean. Out on the horizon you will almost always get a clear view of the neighbouring island of La Gomera with ferries passing back and forth between.
As you pass through this way you will also often get a glimpse of a number of people fishing, attempting to reel in a big catch. It's a fascinating combination between the tropical-esque banana plantations and the volcanic coastline with waves rolling in and crashing against the ancient lava formations.
As you reach the edge of Alcalá, you pass through a palm tree lined street and colourful houses overlooking a picture-perfect beach scene. There is a stairway down to a beach surrounded by palm trees that looks like an image straight out of a postcard.
After stopping here for the almost obligatory Instagram shot, it's time to head off again. As you saunter through Alcalá you can appreciate another wonderfully tranquil Tenerife town. While Alcalá does have a large hotel close by, it remains quiet and authentic with a traditional, safe and family friendly atmosphere.
If you choose to stay within the town there are plenty of apartments to rent and a variety of excellent restaurants and cafes. Many of these restaurants are situated around the large picturesque tree lined plaza.
As you wander around next to the ocean you will see the lovely town harbour. This is an excellent location for sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. It's very peaceful as no large boats are allowed and well loved by locals and tourists alike.
At the weekends especially, it can get busy and represents a superb scene of the outdoor family life that people on the island enjoy throughout the year; perfect for a healthy body and mind!
At the edge of Alcalá, you will reach a wonderful palm tree lined paved pathway which passes by the incredible Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora with its giant swimming pool stretching right along the front of the hotel, with ocean views. Again, the sights on either side of the walkway are stunning and a big contrast as you pass in-between the luxury hotel with its giant pool and the ocean, lined with palm trees.
Here there are a series of small fascinating black sand beaches and natural rock pools. There is a great atmosphere as families, groups of friends, couples or solo walkers travel along the relatively new and well-maintained path. It is also a popular spot for those who are more active such as runners, cyclists or skateboarders.
As you reach the final rock pool you will be confronted with the sensational sight of the Los Gigantes cliffs in the distance, your giant target to head towards!
From here there is a short section of dirt pathway next to more banana plantations and then you reach another smooth newly paved section of coastal walkway, before the next set of towns.
Along this route there is ocean on one side with the wonderful site of waves rolling in, accompanied by that familiar calm, rhythmic sound. On the other side is a section of empty land with great views of the interior of the island up towards pine forests and incredible Mount Teide.
This is a fascinating contrast to the palm tree lined coast. Along this section of the coast, are popular spots for surfers and body-boarders which is extremely impressive to witness as they skilfully ride the waves.
At the end of this coastal path you will reach the next urbanisation, El Varadero with plenty of thin, tall palm trees and villas with gardens filled with beautiful flowers. A short walk on from this is the town of Playa de la Arena, where there is a stunning large black sand beach.
This area is very popular with tourists and the beach has a great energy with many sunbathers and people swimming in the sea. It's a beautiful setting with trees and flowers surrounding the beach.
Playa de la Arena has a variety of options of places to stop for some food or drink. This area is a real contrast from Playa San Juan and Alcalá and much of the preceding walk, with many more people, but on the other hand it is still quieter than places like Los Cristianos or Costa Adeje.
The same can be said for the next town, Puerto Santiago which although touristic due to a number of hotels, is not loud and noisy. You will discover a lovely little beach called Playa Chica which is perfect for a refreshing swim.
Further along there are restaurants, cafes and the beautiful Barcelo Santiago on one side of the coastal walk and on the other the beautiful blue Atlantic Ocean and a series of natural pools to swim in, formed by ancient lava and the ocean. There is also the Cueva El Tancón which is a bit of hidden gem and is a popular spot for jumping into a round area of rock and swimming into the cave.
Due to its volcanic formation, Tenerife really has got an incredible coastline! Next you will get a closer and even more impressive view of Los Gigantes cliffs in all their glory, plus the town and harbour.
From here you can continue round the coast and stop for a look at an amazing public sea-water pool.
Finally, you can either head to the town of Los Gigantes which has picturesque narrow streets full of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, or the harbour which also has many great places to eat and drink while taking in the beautiful boat scene.
Afterwards you can either catch one of the innexpensive, comfortable and frequent buses back from the bus station next to Tipsy Terrace bar, or if you're feeling more energetic walk back. All in all, this is a fantastic way to take in some of the amazing sights of Tenerife's South-West!