10 Surprising Tenerife Mysteries You Won’t Believe Are True-My Canary Islands Odyssey 2
Puerto de Santa Cruz de Tenerife,Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Spain’s second busiest port after Barcelona, Puerto de Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also one of world’s deepest natural harbor. It is located on Tenerife‘s northeastern coast. This is an extremely busy port in the Canaries. Aside from receiving cruise ships, Puerto de Santa Cruz also serve as bunkering point of oil carriers. (bunkering, in ship navigation term, it is the carrier’s refueling) Tenerife is a popular stop on cruise itineraries. Because of its deep harbor, this makes it an easy site for passengers to disembark. This port is also used by fishing and commercial ships and it is an important hub in Europe-Africa-American maritime freight traffic.
Tenerife is the largest and most populated island among the Canaries. (about 43% of whole Canary Islands population). It is also dubbed as “the island of thousand experiences”. Tenerife boasts many scenic landscapes through its mountains and along its coastline. Santa Cruz is the capital of the island which hosts the second largest carnival in the world, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Like Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, this island was first inhabited by Guanches before Spanish conquest in 1496. In 1797, the British tried to invade the island under Admiral Horatio Nelson. He was seriously wounded by a musket ball which resulted to losing one of his arms. In 1833, Santa Cruz was made the capital of the whole Canaries. But in 1927, Spain central government ordered that Santa Cruz be shared with Las Palmas the capital status of the whole Canary Islands group up to this day. During the Franco regime (after the Spanish Civil War), Tenerife fell to the Nacionalistas and most of its inhabitants migrated to Latin American countries. Tenerife was also the site of a deadly aviation accident on March 27, 1977. At Los Rodeos Airport, two Boeing 747 jets collided while on take off killing 583 passengers. It was known as the “Tenerife airport disaster of 1977.” Tourists began visiting Tenerife as early as the 1890s. Tourism is still the most prominent industry in the island today wherein 5 out of 6 of the islanders are involved. But when it comes to industrial activity in the island, petroleum remains the source of its economic boom. Santa Cruz has a refinery. It provides crude oil products not only in the Canaries but in the whole Iberian peninsula, Africa and South America as well.
I signed-off from M/T Knock Allan in 1993 while on a bunkering at Tenerife. On September 26, 1993 Puerto de Santa Cruz was the busiest day at that time. About 45,000 tourists also arrived via Royal Carribean cruise liners. They came to attend the late Michael Jackson’s concert at the island. It was a part of his “Dangerous World Tour” concert of 1993. For centuries tourists have flocked to Tenerife. It is the perfect all-year-round destination for sun-seekers and adventure lovers. But beyond its tourist sites, Tenerife is an island of unique diversity. It never fails to amaze everyone. To give you an idea about it, here are 10 surprising Tenerife mysteries you won’t believe are true.
1. The pine trees that was…
Had the Spaniards not invaded Tenerife, the island would actually be covered by massive pine trees. But then the “conquistadores” came. And they began to cut down the pine trees. They used the logs to build for their naval “armada”. Sadly the extent of deforestation of the pine trees has never recovered to its original foliage. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true. Tsk, tsk..
2. For Dick and Liz, they did not just eat, drink and be merry in Tenerife but bought a mansion as well.
Hollywood’s power couple of the ’70s – Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor visited the island in 1970. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true. They were so captivated with the magic of the island and years later they bought a mansion (Casa del Pena,[ House of Rock]) and a banana plantation in South Tenerife
3. The pyramids of Guimar…
Just when you thought that pyramids can only be found in Egypt, think again. The indigenous people of Tenerife, the Guanches have also constructed pyramids in the ancient times. Here they used to worship to their own gods, spirits and demons. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true but they can be found in an area called Guimar in Santa Cruz. They are considered a top tourist destination in the island.
4. With a little help from his friends, Sir Paul McCartney was saved from drowning.
In 1963, Sir Paul McCartney had almost drowned while swimming at Puerto de La Cruz. He visited Tenerife with fellow Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr. John Lennon was in Barcelona with their manager Brian Epstein.The 3 Beatles stayed at the cottage of a German friend, Klaus Voormann. While swimming, Sir Paul got washed off by waves and almost drowned. But thanks to a ¨little help from his friends¨ he was saved from his near mishap. They stayed most of their days in Tenerife under the sun but the 3 Beatles were so upset at that time. Nobody recognized them after getting tanned. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true. When Beatlemania swept the world later, not one of the Fab Four had ever set foot on Tenerife shores again.
5. Probably not the best beer but you can’t find it elsewhere in the world….
In Tenerife, they have their own brand of beer. Dorada. It’s brewed exclusively on the island. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true but this kind of beer can’t be found elsewhere in the world.
6. Tom Cruise’s mission impossible at Tenerife..
In the early ’90s, Tom Cruise had arrived unannounced at Tenerife‘s Paloma Beach complex. Rumors have it that he was cruising around the Canaries at that time. He made a stop at Santa Cruz, went to a shop and bought a roll of film. And of course, the store owner was stunned. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true.
7. You will be warned, about Tuesday the 13th.
In Tenerife, just like its mother country Spain, they have a saying that goes:”En Martes ni te cases, ni te embarques, ni de tu casa ti apartes” (Don’t marry, or go on a travel, or leave your house on a Tuesday the 13th). Indeed, Tuesday the 13th is a day of bad luck and misfortune in the Canaries. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true. Although they are familiar with Friday the 13th, by tradition, the Spanish consider Martes Trece as the day that strikes the most superstition.
8. Queen’s Brian May indeed rocked Tenerife
In 1971, Grammy Lifetime Achievement awardee Brian May, guitarist of the rock band Queen wrote their song “Tie Your Mother Down” while doing his research at Observatorio del Teide in Tenerife. His thesis delved into a phenomenon called “Zodiacal light” while earning his doctorate in astrophysics at London’s Imperial College. Tenerife is home to a giant telescope of the Mt. Teide Observatory. It is the best place for star gazing at night in Europe. And for Brian May, while doing his thesis at Tenerife, his musical career has also began while on this island. He wrote their 1976 hit song “Tie Your Mother Down.” A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true.
9. Well, Siam Park may also be the happiest place on earth…
Home to the biggest waterpark in the world, Siam Park. It is located in Costa Edeje, Tenerife. A Thai-themed waterpark, it provides a mix of fun, excitement and lots of adrenaline. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true. But regardless of your age, there is so much to look forward to on this Thai-inspired destination.
10. In the “lost world” of Masca…
At the foot of Teno Mountains, northwest Tenerife is Masca, thought to be the island’s “lost world.” The most prettiest village among the Canaries, this tiny hamlet is known to be the settlement of the legendary Guanches. Dubbed as the Macchu Picchu of the Canary Islands, the center of this village with only 90 residents is situated on a cliff underneath a bullet-shaped peak. There is even a myth that Masca was used to be inhabited by pirates. But the claim was not proven. Back in the 16th century, Masca was never attacked by pirates. So there were wild speculations that this small village was possibly a pirate hideaway. A surprising Tenerife mystery you won’t believe is true. One interesting attraction of Masca is their 18th century Church which is so small. It can only accommodate 8 people.
Tenerife indeed is not just an awesome island to unwind but it is a treasure trove of exciting things and surprising mysteries that you won’t believe are true. It is tax-free. The ethnographic park near the 6 pyramids of Guimar was set up with funding from the Norwegian shipping magnate Fred Olsen (my employer from 1990-2013. His shipping line operates 6 modern ferries, Fred Olsen Express along the Canaries). About 5 times more people visit Tenerife (except of course this COVID-19 pandemic) every year than the actual population of the island. A world class destination, it is an island of superlatives you need to find out soon. Vamos.