Tenerife

Tourists to the Canary Islands in search of unspoiled beaches and activities on the water need look no further the main island. Situated on Tenarife’s southeast coast, the resort town of El Médano manages to retain its Spanish colonial feel while hosting international windsurfing and windkiting competitions. A relaxed vibe, near perfect weather, and an escape from tourist shops and commercialized hype all await discovery.

El Médano, or The Sand Dune in Spanish, is a small fishing village. The main town square opens onto the central beach, hosting summer festivals along with an annual firework show. Cafes and tapas bars line the boardwalk for those in search of an afternoon coffee or ice cream, and the seafood is excellent. Visitors wanting to take advantage of world-class windsurfing beaches will find both rental equipment and lessons readily available, along with Jet Ski rentals and a glass-bottom boat tour.

Beaches in the area include the central Playa El Médano, often crowded with local families who bring their children to romp along the sugar-soft sands and shallow waters. Playa La Tejita lies just a short stroll along the dunes and offers similarly beautiful beaches and turquoise waters without the crowds and trinket sellers. One lone beach bar supplies cold beer for anyone absolutely desperate for an afternoon drink. Those willing to hike further along the dunes will find plenty of private sunbathing and swimming possibilities. Hidden in a sheltered cove and only accessible after a scramble over rocks, Playa de La Pelada is a nudist’s paradise. To the east, Playa El Cabezo is a windsurfer’s paradise. One thing to keep in mind—the wind off the coast is strong and ever-present.

For those in search of a taste of local history, the Cave of Santo Hermano Pedro is nearby. A popular pilgrimage site, this shrine is dedicated to the Canary Island’s first saint.