Gliding down a road as smooth and as curvy as a Scalextric track, tour guide Laura turns to me. “I never get bored of this bike ride,” she smiles. We were in Tenerife’s lunar-like Teide National Park and had spent the morning pedaling to 2,200m above the sea, taking us almost eye level to the tallest volcano on the island, Teide.
Teide hasn’t always been the highest point, however. When the duck-shaped island was first formed by the fusion of three smaller volcanoes, another peak wore the crown. But this volcano was too big to support itself, meaning it collapsed, and a landslide formed the valleys and slopes that make up Tenerife’s topography today.
Every part of the island’s been shaped by its explosive history. The forests that grow on the volcanoes of Anaga capture the water from the Trade Wind, creating verdant landscapes in the north. Travel an hour south to the Malpaís de Rasca nature reserve though, and you feel like you’ve reached a desert.
Early eruptions scattered porous stones to the island’s edges, which easily eroded to form the breadcrumb sands of those celebrated beaches. They also provided the basalt for the black sands of the less-travelled north. The rocky outcrops that are dotted around the island also have the power to change the weather, creating excellent windsurfing conditions in one bay, while around the corner you’ll find the water is as still as a bath – a fine surface for stand-up paddle-boarding.
Even the depths of the surrounding waters are because of the volcanoes, attracting a plethora of marine life including dolphins and whales. But despite being less than 320km off the west coast of Africa, the island is only four-and-a-half hours from London.
Traditionally, most of those arrivals have come to lie on those beaches, but now, like the ever-changing landscape of Tenerife, the reasons to visit are shifting too. As such, Laura will not be having problems with being bored anytime soon.