El Clima de Tenerife

Strelitzia - bird of paradise flower Strelitzia - bird of paradise flower

Tenerife, the island of eternal spring.

Tenerife owes its fortunate climate to its location just past the Tropic of Cancer and its topography.

El Teide divides Tenerife into two climatic zones. The South hot and dry with an arid desert landscape, only scrub and other adapted vegetation grows. The North softer with lush green vegetation, more rainfall and frequent cloud cover. This is most noticeable on a drive from the airport in the South around to Puerto de la Cruz in the Orotava Valley in the North. At Santa Cruz, on the dividing line, the landscape changes from dry arid scrubland to more greener vegetation. Outside Santa Cruz just past La Laguna, green cultivated fields, further on lush green vegetation in the open countryside. This is particularly noticeable in the Orotava Valley, a natural amphitheatre that captures the moisture from the prevailing trade winds.

There is also climatic change going inland from the subtropical coast. Climb up from Puerto de la Cruz into and out of the Orotava Valley. Up to 200 m banana plantations. Up past Icod de Los Vinos the climate and vegetation is very similar to the Lizard Peninsular in the Southern tip of Cornwall (SW England) - broom, gorse, heather, pine trees and palm trees. From here there are some of the best views of El Teide. Keep climbing, up through the pine trees out past the tree line, into an arctic/Alpine zone.

This change is particularly noticeable in Winter. From Santa Cruz to La Laguna a distance of about 10 km, 10-15 minutes on the local bus, the weather can change from very warm and sunny, to cold, wet and misty.

Tenerife is one of the few places on Earth where you can be lying in the sun on the beach drinking Sangria in the morning and playing snowballs at the foot of El Teide in the afternoon.

The prevailing Westerly Trade Winds and Ocean Currents help to moderate the climate - warm in Winter and not too hot in Summer. Between Winter and Summer the average temperature varies by little more than 10 degrees centigrade.

Long before the late 20th century phenomena of mass tourism 19th century physicians recommended that their patients overwintered in the North of Tenerife to take advantage of its beneficial climate.

(c) Keith Parkins 1999 -- April 1999 rev 2