THERE are a couple of things omnipresent in Tenerife; karaoke and cacti.
Nestling off the West coast of Africa, the island's subtropical climate and intense dry heat might explain those dramatic displays of succulents on every street corner.
But the karaoke? Well there's no excuses – other than the fact that this charming and friendly island would bring out the holiday mood in anyone. Opportunities to shine are plentiful but perhaps one of the most welcoming is Star Bar – a family-run club hosted by the eye-poppingly magnificent Roxy Risque.
Knock back that pina colada and join in with those Elvis and Beatles classics.
Just a short easyJet flight from the UK and enjoying year-round sunshine, Tenerife has long been a popular holiday destination for European travellers, but the last 20 years have seen a seismic change of direction in this volcanic island's image. Gone are many of the ubiquitous theme-bars and souvenir shops, replaced instead by award-winning restaurants and exclusive shopping malls.
A great place to stay is the so-called 'Golden Mile' – situated between the popular resorts of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos. The main boulevard is framed by fragrant hibiscus bushes and dazzling mosaic pavement art. High-end boutiques line the picturesque walkways, and traditional pony-traps clatter down to the beach.
Built on a rocky outcrop the sandy beaches to the South of the island are largely man-made. Enjoy early evening tapas and sangria at Playa del Camisón beach club just a few moments from Mare Nostrum. The terrace there is the perfect place to kick-back and people-watch – DJs and live music from 5pm daily.
There are a multitude of accommodation options in Tenerife but for full-on, five-star splendour stay at the enormous Mediterranean Palace Hotel. Classically-inspired marble sculptures line the imposing arena of the main pool, discreet cabanas provide the ideal spot for intimate drinks. The buffet breakfast here is an extravagant affair – the hotel proudly claims to cater for every national taste.
I'm not sure which country wakes up to marshmallow chocolate fountains and champagne- but I want to go and live there!
Cuisine on Tenerife is varied and adventurous and the island hosts an annual, well-attended food and drink festival. For traditional Canarian fare take a stroll down to any one of the sea-front restaurants. Try mojo verde – a piquant, coriander-based sauce served with the majority of local dishes – accompanied by "papas arrugadas", skinned potatoes cooked in seawater.
For post-dinner drinks, head over to the nearby Monkey Bar and Beach Club for frozen mojitos. Silver leather sofas flanked by oriental sculptures provide an edgy yet glamorous venue for their regular club nights.
Holiday cocktails aside, it's worth giving the local Canarian wine a try. Like many of the bars, the Gaelic Corner pub brews its own on site. It's woody, honeyed, and very, very strong.
Now where's that mic...?
Old-school glamour is a big part of Tenerife and a number of the hotels provide nightly variety shows. Dress code is cruise-ship chic and the professional, large-scale productions are ambitious and impressive.
For slightly less grown-up entertainment, steel yourself for a trip down to the riotous “Veronica's Strip”. There are numerous bars to choose from – manyoffering outdoor pool tables and once again, the obligatory karaoke. It's an innocent, unpretentious night-out.
If you're simply having too much fun on the south of the island and you feel that you ought to squeeze in some high-culture, then take a day to explore the northern city of Santa Cruz.
Just a couple of hours’ bus ride from Los Cristianos, it's teeming with galleries, museums and coffee houses. Fit in a performance at the iconic wave-shaped National Auditorium – designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and home to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra. There's a full and varied programme of music and dance throughout the year.
One of the must-see cultural sites while on the island is the National Park – home to Mount Teide, the highest volcanic peak in Spain. The cable car service, which runs every day (weather permitting) takes you up to the Rambleta, at 3,555 metres. The rest of the ascent, a little over 200 metres, must be made on foot. As a Unesco protected site, access to the peak is restricted and tourists must apply for a permit to reach the summit. By day, the views across the bay are breath-taking, at night be dazzled by a blazing celestial backdrop.
Exploring the island as a whole is relatively easy. Car-hire is cheap and efficient and there is an extremely practical public transport network. Many of the larger hotels offer coach trips to local sites and those 'once in a lifetime' group tourist experiences.
Opt for an early morning whale-watching trip (including open-sea swimming and scuba-diving) or a camel-safari at La Camella, where for a couple of hours you could find yourself riding side-saddle with Gustav, the genial accountant from Dresden.
It's what those priceless holiday snapshots are all about...
Star Bar, Local 7, Garden City, San Eugenio
Tel: +34 00 34922790521
Playa del Camisón beach club, Playa De Las Américas, 38640
Mediterranean Palace www.marenostrumresort.com
Monkey Bar and Beach Club www.monkeybeachclub.com
Gaelic Corner www.dubliner-tenerife.com/gaelic-corner
Tenerife Auditorium www.auditoriodetenerife.com/en
Teide National Park www.webtenerife.co.uk/places-interest/teide-national-park
Whale-watching/diving tours en.edencatamaran.com
La Camella- Camel Park firstname.lastname@example.org
easyJet Flights to Tenerife South Airport from as little as £40 one way www.easyjet.com
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