Safe bathing for all with Tenerife Baywatch

Limping and dragging its wing, a large seagull flopped off an incoming wave and lurched into crash position on the beach as curious holiday makers looked on. Through the crowd, a sturdy beach buggy with a red cross flag billowing, rolled down to the shore and 2 life guards helped the injured bird into a box and drove it back to their station to contact the local bird park to come and collect it for treatment. Not the most thrilling plot line for an episode of Baywatch, but just one of the small day to day incidents that highlight the compassion, dedication and sheer professionalism of the socorristas (lifeguards) on Las Vistas beach in Los Cristianos.Â


As a dedicated beach bum and avid swimmer I get to see a lot of the work of the friendly team guarding and protecting the beach, and my admiration for them grows daily. Just last week Arona council were holding training courses for another batch of lifeguards, a timely reminder to me, to sing their praises. You can just imagine what sort of problems too much sun and drink can cause, add in people thinking they can cruise to La Gomera on an inflatable airbed and you can see that there is no shortage of incidents on the beach, good job the guards are around. Part of their 300 hours training includes basic first aid for sun stroke, swimming cramp, the odd insect bite and many other bizarre injuries.

Disabled area

Arona council has a multi lingual programme of Barriers Free Tourism, which allows disabled visitors a chance to enjoy the beach and a swim in the sea. Special parking zones, entrance ramps, roll up boardwalks and disabled changing rooms all go to make the beach fun for special visitors but best of all are the socorristas. They have 3 amphibian chairs among their equipment, free for use and purpose built to take disabled bathers into the sea. The guards patiently push and pull the chairs from the reserved decking sunbed area down to the waters edge and help their passengers into the sea and then wait to be called to go in and help them back out. It’s not an easy process but is always conducted with patience, dignity and good humour. The chairs need to be booked 24 hours in advance through the life guard station or on 922761600 and are only used when the green safety flag is flying.

Amphibian chair

Most people probably think it’s a cushy number watching the peaches on the beaches all day, catching a tan and putting the beach buggy, jet ski and canoe through their paces but with common sense left behind by most bathers, the socorristas have be stay alert. Even now with the rocky base of the beach fountain sealed off by a rope and a warning notice in 3 languages, people feel the urge to slip under the rope and climb up over the wet rocks. Then there is the red flag warning of dangerous waves, it merely acts as a challenge to some visitors.

Socorristas on patrol

Never mind, we can all feel safer knowing that from 10am to 6pm every day, the beach patrol will be ready will binoculors focussed, and red plastic torpedos tucked under their arms to stop us getting out of our depths.