When you think about a typical destination wedding or honeymoon with glorious sunshine and white sandy beaches, you typically think of far flung places like the Tropics or the Caribbean, but what about destinations closer to home? There is an island that can offer the same year-round sunshine just 4 hours away from the UK. I went on a mission to uncover what’s on offer in Tenerife.
For those who have their heart set on guaranteed sunshine but don’t have two weeks to travel long-haul, Tenerife is the perfect destination in which to tie-the knot or spend your honeymoon. Tenerife is already well known as a popular Winter sun destination with average year-round temperatures of 22C and regular short-haul flights from the UK, but what many people don’t know is it has so much more to offer than package holidays. There is an amazing undiscovered side to Tenerife and the week I spent uncovering the natural beauty and luxury boutique hotels on this small volcanic island completely blew me away.
Tenerife offers a diverse range of landscapes and activities so whether you want to tie-the-knot on the beach, on a boat at sunset, under the stars at the breathtakingly beautiful Teide National Park or at a more traditional stately home or castle, anything is possible on this gem of an island.
During our time in Tenerife we decided to take in a few days in the South and then a few days in the North of the island to visit as many places as possible. Our first couple of days were spent in the heart of Tenerife South, at the stunning Villa Cortés. This beautiful 5 star hotel offers a warm and hospitable atmosphere in a luxurious hacienda built in an authentic Mexican style and is worlds away from what you would expect to find in the busiest part of Tenerife. Villa Cortes would be the perfect location for a wedding of any size from an intimate ceremony with just you and a few close family and friends to a bustling wedding celebration with 100 excited guests. The friendly hotel manager Ricardo and his team are passionate about working with couples to create their perfect day and they have many beautiful spots for couples to tie-the knot in, from their private beach to their romantic courtyard or pool cave. With 150 rooms on offer, there is plenty of space for family and friends to stay at the venue and make a weekend holiday of it.
Another gorgeous venue we discovered was the Hotel Royal Garden Villas & Spa. This five-star resort features 28 luxury villas each with their own private pool. Every inch of this boutique hotel has been designed to perfection and has an incredibly romantic feel to it. From the Thai inspired interior design of the villas to the relaxing pool area and their exquisite dining room, the property is not just beautiful but has a real sense of boutique intimacy throughout. The pool area would be a picture perfect setting for tying the knot with stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean and out to the island of La Gomera. It would also be the perfect place for guests to enjoy sunset cocktails before moving onto an exquisite sit down meal in the stunning dining room. This is definitely somewhere you would want to stay for a few days before and after the wedding to relax and pamper yourself.
Another venue that stole my heart was Jardines De Frenchy. This family run manor dates back to 1557 and reminded me of something you would expect to find in the English or French countryside. It has the most beautiful grounds with immaculate garden and pool areas which would make the perfect setting for your ceremony. The manor house is simply divine; overlooking the grounds, it’s made up of one large room for your reception and party but there are also a number of smaller rooms leading off the main room for your guests to relax and mingle in. If you wanted to have a church wedding and then host your reception at Jardines De Frenchy, one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been inside is located just a two minute walk from the manor.
If the only thing putting you off an island wedding is your childhood dream of marrying in a castle then fear not, Tenerife is home to one of the most divine castles, El Castillo de los Realejos. This castle was built in the 19th century and is surrounded by beautiful gardens looking out over the ocean. The main castle is beautiful from both the outside and inside with a large main room for a wedding reception and a beautiful marquee in the grounds which would be perfect for the sit down meal. This castle is a very popular wedding location and it’s easy to see why as the setting is picture perfect and would rival that of any British castle.
For those looking for something small and intimate with a traditional Canarian feel, I can’t think of a better place than Hotel La Quinta Roja in the tranquil, sleepy town of Garachico. Dating from the 16th century, this house shows off traditional Baroque architecture and is set around a small courtyard which would be an excellent location for a wedding reception. There are 20 rooms at the house which would allow you to host all of your guests if you were planning a small wedding. The house is located on the town square which is also home to the beautiful Garachico church so if you are a couple looking for a church wedding in a beautiful historic town when you need look no further.
For a venue with lots of choice when it comes to tying the knot, I would highly recommend the popular Ritz-Carlton Abama. This 5 star hotel is located on the Guía de Isora coast of Tenerife and is set on picturesque grounds with endless options for celebrating your big day. Whether you want to say your vows in a beautiful outdoor setting in their lush Persian Garden or at the beach club overlooking the glittering waters of the Atlantic you will be spoilt for choice. But the setting is not the only thing this hotel has to offer, here you can treat your guests to an unforgettable feast created by the resort’s two Michelin-starred chefs and then dance the night away in their candlelit ballroom.
Last, but not least, we visited the Hotel Botánico & The Oriental Spa Garden located in one of the most exclusive residential districts of Puerto de la Cruz. This 5 star spa hotel is a paradise of tranquillity and relaxation surrounded by 25,000 square metres of lush subtropical gardens. It has 252 rooms so there is plenty of space for your guests if you are planning a large wedding. Their gardens are the perfect spot for your ceremony and could also serve as the venue for your reception. If you would prefer an indoor reception, you have the option of moving into their grand reception room which provides a commanding view the gardens.
Like with any destination wedding, if you are interested in tying the knot in Tenerife I would recommend hiring a wedding planner who is based on the island. A highly recommended wedding planner in Tenerife is Myriam Batista of D-Bodas http://www.d-bodas.com. With her wealth of local knowledge, Myriam can show you around suitable venues and use her language skills and network of contacts to help you deal with suppliers which takes much of the stress out of planning a wedding abroad.
What else is there to do in Tenerife?
Whether you are tying the knot yourself, choosing Tenerife as a honeymoon destination or are heading out for a friend’s wedding, there is so much to do in Tenerife to keep you entertained. From paragliding in Izaña, hiking in the Forest in Los Realejos or taking a helicopter tour over the island to lying on the beach or taking in a round of golf on one of the award winning courses, there are endless options. It’s really just a question of having enough time to fit everything in.
While we were in Tenerife we managed to fit in a few activities which made our trip even more memorable. On our first afternoon we headed for Puerto Colón where we took a private boat charter with Big Smile Luxury Charters out to see Tenerife’s famous Pilot whales. The strait dividing Tenerife from the island of La Gomera is populated with one of the most important colonies of Pilot whales on the planet together with Bottlenose dolphins. Up to 21 different species of mammals live in these waters, meaning that you are practically guaranteed to spot free-living dolphins or whales – or both – on any wildlife spotting excursion that sets sail from Puerto Colón. It only took about 20 minutes before our boat was surrounded in the small Pilot whales and I could hardly contain my excitement. Seeing the little babies swim alongside their mothers was one of the most wonderful sights I have ever seen.
On our last evening in Tenerife we took our car and headed into Teide National Park. Mount Teidie is the highest peak in Spain reaching a height of 3,718 metres and is the third largest volcano in the world. It was declared a National park in 1954, making it one of the oldest national parks in Spain. We spent a couple of hours driving and hiking around some of the most scenic spots, taking in the flora and fauna and all the spectacular views. It was especially beautiful as the sun began to set and as we laid out our picnic blanket and opened a bottle of champagne we watched the sky become a multitude of reds, yellows and oranges. Simply breath-taking! Once the sky had turned completely black we packed up our blanket and went off to meet our guide for a stargazing experience with Discover Experience.
What many people may not know is that Tenerife is one of the best locations on the planet for stargazing thanks to its clear dark skies, low light pollution and high altitude. In 2013 Teide National Park was awarded the “Starlight Tourist Destination” and “Starlight Reserve” certificates by the Starlight Foundation. We had such a wonderful time with our guide as he pointed out all the constellations with his high-powered telescope and we even got a crystal-clear close up look at the moon which completely blew my mind.
Following the star gazing we then went for dinner at the Parador which is the only hotel located within the National Park. Here we had a beautiful meal which included lots of local wines and cheeses and a number of local Canarian dishes. The food was absolutely delicious and we left feeling extremely full so we decided to make the drive back to our hotel to put on our glad rags and head to Tenerife’s newest beach club Papagayo, to dance off some of that food.
Papagayo is located in the south of Tenerife, on Troya Beach in Arona. The stylish beach club reminds me of the type of place you would expect to find in Ibiza. The club is set over two floors with lots of comfy seating areas surrounding a cozy dance floor and terrific views looking out over the beach. I was slightly disappointed we hadn’t been here early enough for the sunset as I imagine it would be the perfect spot for sun-downers. We grabbed ourselves a booth that overlooked both the beach and the dance floor and ordered ourselves some delicious cocktails. After sinking a couple of cocktails while we waited for the club to fill up suitably, we then hit the dance floor and danced the night away before dragging our tired feet back to our hotel.
The following morning before heading home we took a long walk along the beach, excitedly discussing which venue we would tie the knot in if we could do our wedding all over again!
To find out more about Tenerife visit www.webtenerife.co.uk