Let’s be honest. Holidaying with children often turns into an endurance test. Just as you open your bestseller by the pool, someone gets heat stroke or – worse still – says they’re bored.
That’s why my family is now doing adventure holidays where, every day, we set off to do something we wouldn’t do at home.
Southern Tenerife offers plenty away from the sunbeds. And its coastline is one of the best places in Europe to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment. We set out from Puerto Colón on Royal Delphin. The company is committed to respecting marine life, so there’s no loud music and a respectful distance is kept between man and mammal. Not only did we see a baby dolphin, but we spotted a pod of whales. They were even more impressive from the underwater glass viewing area.
You can’t swim with dolphins in Tenerife, but if animal encounters are your thing it’s worth driving inland to Camel Park, which is set in a traditional finca in Chayofa in Arona.
English owner Samantha Lopez-Lynch’s herd is friendly-enough to take chopped apple from your hand and rides are suitable for children (from three years) and adults, following a track around the farm. And there are other animals to feed, including pigs and goats, and drinks and snacks are available in a shady terrace garden.
It’s almost impossible to go anywhere in Tenerife without seeing signs for Siam Park. The huge Thai-themed waterpark in Costa Adeje offers thrills for all ages. It’s not cheap, but a day here is a very full one. I loved floating along the Mai Thai river on a giant ring and jumping the huge artificial waves at Coco Beach. The kids loved the slides, so we did almost everything twice. Buy tickets direct from the website for the best deals.
A multi-park ticket includes a visit to Loro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz, which is renowned for its conservation work. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or birthday and email in advance you can take part in its interactive parrot show. There’s also an indoor penguin area with snow, a towering iceberg and hundreds of penguins. Other must-dos are the huge aquarium, the free flight aviary and the Baby Station – our favourite – where you can see chicks being hand-reared.
For family nightlife in Tenerife, Castillo San Miguel, in Aldea Blanca, offers all-action knights shows in an impressive castle, built in 1986. Here we enjoyed a medieval banquet with plenty of local wine for the grown-ups. What was lacking in the finesse of the food was more than made up for by the daredevil antics of the jousting knights.
Star-spotting at the base station of Mount Teide (suitable for kids aged eight plus) was another great night out. Book a group session with an astronomical guide and you’ll learn more about constellations and meteor showers in the planetarium before seeing them outside with a telescope away from the light pollution of urban areas. Wrap up warm, though.
For a luxurious stay, we booked a suite at Royal Hideaway Corales Suites. The sea-side hotel in Adeje offers one and two-bedroom suites with well-equipped kitchens so you can self-cater or dine in its restaurants. Outside, there’s a heated infinity pool and you can sunbathe on a Balinese bed – big enough for a whole family to snuggle up together.
Kids club is so good that parents can join in activities, which include pottery, cookery and science experiments. If you leave the children, there’s a fitness programme with yoga and pilates, as well as culinary and cultural workshops and a luxury spa in the adults-only sister hotel next door.
With free wifi, we sent our postcards digitally from the poolside. Not only did we have photos everyone wanted to see, but we also had far more than the weather to talk about.
Rates at Royal Hideaway Corales Suites start from €293 per night based on two people sharing a deluxe suite on a B&B basis. barcelo.com
Flights to Tenerife South Airport are available from Edinburgh with Easyjet and from Glasgow with Tui.
Some of the places that Liz visited have been temporarily closed over lockdown so check in advance before visiting.
Before you book: Check on the relevant Covid-19 measures in force both at home and at your destination.
Quarantines may apply on foreign travel to and from the UK. Be sure to also check your insurance.