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Whale watching by day. Star gazing atop Spain’s tallest peak by night. Outwards and upwards, Tenerife, already one of our favourite holiday islands, is breaking the tourism mould.

Laze on Sahara sand

The Brits are tumbling in love with the island that once repulsed Nelson. Now a canny tourist trade is finding more for us to do, once we
are through lazing on beaches made of sand imported from the nearby
Sahara. Beyond the big, busy resorts there are many quiet places to
explore. From tiny fishing villages, to ancient hilltop settlements.
From one of the world oldest trees, the Dragon tree at Icod, to Thor
Hyerdahl's baffling pyramids at Guimar.

Race you to the top

Dominating every view is El Teide. At over 9000 feet, it is Spain’s
tallest mountain. The trick is to get there by 10 am to beat the crowds.
There’s a choice of 12 walks through the national park: guides will lead
you to the best views, for £29. 0034 922 29 01 22.

Then come back at night for some star gazing through pristine,
unpolluted air at the mountain observatory - Observación de las
Estrellas. Your tour of the heavens costs £27 for two, including
transport. 0034 922 236 299 www.astroamigos.com.

Stars from our own galaxy perform in the capital Santa Cruz, at the new
and seductively curvy Auditorio. Think Sydney Opera House’s little
brother, and much closer. A concert or opera starts at £27 for two. In
June the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra perform the daringly decadent
Carmina Burana. There’s flamenco festival and jazz too. Tickets: 0034
902 317 327

Whale-watching awe

Tenerife is packed with opportunity, in, on and over the water. But nothing drenches you in awe like a whale watching trip, and Tenerife is
one of the closest places to the UK to take one. 28 species of whale or
dolphin either live in or migrate through the surrounding waters. Be
careful who you book with. Some tour boats steer too close and harass
the whales. The Royal Maritime Club’s Katrin (0034 667 663 838) offers
some of the most caring cruises, out of Los Gigantes. A good chance of
seeing either whales and dolphins, and often both. £17.
For the high view, try parascending (under a kite towed by a power boat)
and become your own personal sea plane. £11: 0034 922 861 918.

The laugh acquatic

Pick of the underwater options is BOB the Breathing Observation
Bubble (Playa de Las Americas) an ingeniously simple, if comical
looking, British invention that crosses James Bond gadgetry with the
wonderment of the Bill Murray film, The Life Aquatic. You sit under the
sea on a sort of scooter, wearing a helmet. As everybody is roaring with
laughter, no one is embarrassed. No diving knowledge needed. 0034
670839516 £30, www.bob-diving.com

Tenerife's Shakespearean tipple

For the fine tipples of Tenerife, let Shakespeare be your guide. What a
marvellous searching wine, said Mistress Quickly of the local nip in
Henry IV, part II. Now 106 vineyards meet the demand Flastaff helped start.
A pity the bard cast no light on the wonderful mystery of tapas: how many
plates to order; how to decipher the deep delights of the menu?
But now there’s an answer. Take a short course in tapas, and eat as you learn.
The tourist board (UK - www.webtenerife.com, 020 7431 4045) runs daily
tapas tours in the capital Santa Cruz. A three hour tour, taking in
three restaurants, should cost about £50. (£33 for two hours.)

Elegant eating

Tenerife bursts with restaurant choice - the works at around £82 for
two. El Régulo (0034 922 384 506) in a restored town house, with seating
in an elegant courtyard, in Puerto de la Cruz is one of the island’s
classiest. Good for seafood, including hake and parrot fish. In Los
Gigantes try the Rincón de Juan Carlos (0034 922 86 80 40) for its baked
bass with almond sauce.

One favourite out of many is El Corral Del Guanche near Playa Paraopiso
(0034 922 740 004). Cuban and Canarian influences with a Latin twist.
The shoulder of lamb is famous. Under £35 for two, with the local wine,
naturally.

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