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Puerto de la Cruz beaches
Popular as a holiday resort for over a century, Tenerife's Puerto de la Cruz boasts one of the highest return rates for guests of any resort in Europe and it is easy to see why. As well as an idyllic climate, the resort offers good beaches, a smattering of historic buildings, a wide variety of dining options and varied nightlife. Puerto de la Cruz also has easy access to one of Spain's most popular theme parks and the Teide National Park. The famed sunshine makes Puerto de la Cruz very much a year round resort that is especially popular with more mature travellers as it tends to be a touch quieter and more relaxed than the lively southern Tenerife resorts.
The Playa Jardin is Puerto de la Cruz's premium beach. Distinctive with its volcanic black sand it boasts sun loungers and watersports and is backed up with cafés and bars. When the wind gets up it is also popular with windsurfers. When it is too choppy to hit the beach, the Lago de Martianez outdoor lido on the waterfront is on hand to recreate the beach holiday experience.
Puerto de la Cruz is much more than just a holiday resort as you can appreciate at the town (Calle Iriarte), naval (Calle Iriarte), wine (El Sauzal) and archaeological (Calle del Lomo 9a) museums. The Botanical Gardens (Calle Retama 2) are an oasis that makes the most of Tenerife's lush subtropical climate with over 3,000 species of flora from all around the world.
Loro Parque (www.loroparque.com), on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz at Punta Brava, is Tenerife's number one family attraction. As well as over a thousand parrots there are also puffins, penguins and sharks, not to mention the killer whales that perform spectacular shows, spiralling into the air before tumbling back into their pool, showering thrilled young faces with water as they go.
February is the time to head across to Tenerife's capital, Santa Cruz, for the colourful spectacle of Carnaval (www.carnavaltenerife.com) when the streets throng with revellers deep into the night and holidaymakers are welcome. The city, as the island's hub, also buzzes with life for the rest of the year. The lush Orotava Valley rewards a day's exploration by hire car, with stops for walking and visiting the charming town of La Orotava.
Catch a bus and then take a taxi back from Santa Cruz, Tenerife's lively capital. Wander the old streets, take in the stunning new opera house and then enjoy a lazy dinner accompanied by live music at La Balsa Blues where you can feast on fresh Canarian meat and fish dishes cooked with a dash of creative flair.