UK weekly edition, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If you’re feeling the urge to see the deep blue sea, you might want to consider a trip to Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands.

To begin, take a coastal boat trip from Playa de Los Cristianos, a popular tourist resort area. From there, you can take a ferry or hydrofoil to the nearby island of La Gomera or you can take a whale-and-dolphin-watching cruise.

After exploring the area from a boat or catamaran, take advantage of the year-round warm waters and do some underwater exploration. The clear waters around Tenerife offer snorkeling enthusiasts fabulous views of colorful fish and other marine life.

The ocean’s stunning coral reefs and old shipwrecks provide thrilling sights for scuba divers. Never scuba-dived? Not to worry. There are many tour operators that provide lessons and equipment.

For those who want a close-up look at marine life but prefer to stay dry, there are submarine trips available from Los Galletas harbor.

Surfers will enjoy the solid real waves found off the dark sand of Roque beach, however the "About Tenerife" guide warns that the waters there also have frequent currents that can make the sea dangerous. Teresitas or Jardin beaches provide safer swimming conditions for families.

Vacationers looking for an all-over suntan should venture to the unofficial nude beaches of Playa de la Tejita or Playa de la Gaviotas.

There are even more outdoor attractions inland. Visitors can take a cable car ride to just below the summit of Mount Teide, an active, yet dormant, volcano in Teide National Park.

Hikers who want to walk to the summit must get a permit at the park’s visitor center or at the park’s administration center in Santa Cruz.

Then there are the mysterious stepped pyramids that captivated Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl at the Piramides de Guimar Ethnographic Park. Several exhibitions, including one about the pyramid excavations, are located nearby.

For shopping, Tenerife’s capital city of Santa Cruz is the place to go. Most shops are located around the city’s Plaza de Espana and Plaza de la Candelaria and on these streets: Villalba Hervás, El Castillo and San José. In the evenings Santa Cruz comes to life with bars, pubs and discotheques that stay open well into the morning hours.

For family fun, there’s Loro Parque, a zoo with extras. Attractions include sharks, sea lions, monkeys, penguins and more. The zoo claims to be home to the world’s largest collection of parrots. Other attractions include an orchid collection and an Orca Ocean area with captive-bred killer whales.

For a look at some gentler wildlife, visit the El Drago Butterfly House, featuring around 100 species of butterflies flying around.

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