In praise of nature on Tenerife’s west coast

How many ways can the waves meet the shore, you might as well ask how many shades and hues the sea has, or how many shapes and textures do the rocks have.  All these questions occupied my little pea brain today as I took a stroll along the coastal path from Alcala to El Varadero, on the west coast of Tenerife.

It must be at least a year since I followed this delightful route, so after a refreshing cold drink at the plaza in Alcala, I set about retracing my steps. When I worked for The Tenerife Sun from their office in this small fishing village, I would take a swim in the bay each dinner time. A couple of years ago it was given a spruce up and a protective dyke added to calm the waves, and new easier entry points were added into the water. There was a healthy number of bathers taking a dip today, and a few lone anglers perched on rocky outcrops.

Rounding the first point, the influence of the huge and luxurious Palicio de Isora Hotel is soon felt, the walkways have been widened and made safer, a good thing for walkers, but at a cost of large concreted seating areas added to please the tourists. This last long weekend was one of the major Spanish holidays and would normally have attracted a big influx from the mainland and the north of Tenerife, but this year it was very quiet. The hotel pool was hardly disturbed by a ripple, and only a handful of guests loitered around the edge, given the place a slightly eerie and empty air.

The newly sanitised area soon gave way to the more rugged path as shingle and stones guided me down the crescent bank and along the waters edge. The waves were mighty and rolling in majestically, the hot sun and blue sky meant clear views out to La Gomera, interupted only by the odd passing boat. There is a point where the shore line plunges down a little into the rock pools and I had to clamber around the edge to pick up the path again, it has a reassuring wildness to it and I could see that since my last visit some of the path edge had subsided, but there are plenty of variations to mix and match with some careful footwork.

Coming up the other side and back on wider walkways, I was in the area where campers used to descend in vans every holiday, it’s strictly illegal but enforcement was always a bit half hearted, in recent years there has been a clamp down but the tell tale tyre tracks showed that at least a few had pushed their luck. This stretch leads to Punta Blanca, a wild stretch of coast favoured by surfers, and sure enough there were a few bobbing like corks out at sea, gripping their boards and waiting for the big wave.

The land along here used to be filled with banana plantations but as prices dropped and foreign competition rose, the fields were abandoned but the sturdy plants are still standing firm in some quarters, and the old border walls are crumbling but just about holding their own. The views here are wonderful as the cliffs of Los Gigantes appear in the distance. The coastal path and the main road start to converge but there are still a few twists and turns before surfacing in El Varadero. The walk took me about an hour, going at a leaisurely pace and stopping to snap photos at every new natural wonder.