Discover a whole new side to Tenerife with a voyage beneath the ocean. Dive into a vibrant underwater world of colour, creatures and caverns.
The more energetic visitors to Tenerife venture from the resort towns to climb the slopes of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain. But in recent years increasing numbers of tourists have discovered another attraction—the colorful marine life inhabiting the subtropical waters surrounding the island. Basalt rocks form intriguing underwater caverns and piles of boulders where stingrays, moray eels and nudibranchs (sea slugs) make their homes. There are numerous dive sites around the island, with the greatest number on the northeast and southwest coastlines.
At Las Galletas on the south coast the stingrays come to feed. Cow-nosed rays and eagle rays swoop in from the darker deeper water to cover the sandy bottom. As you kneel on the sandy seabed the rays soar over your head.
With the North African coastline just 70 miles away, Tenerife is reliably warm, and even in the winter the temperature of the water rarely drops below 61°F, even reaching 78°F at the height of summer. One of the other attractions for divers is that the sea around Tenerife offers good visibility, sometimes as much as 30 meters.
Given Tenerife’s rocky landscape and volcanic origins, the underwater topography is varied. It is full of nooks and crannies, caves and caverns for scorpion fish to hide in while waiting for their prey. Small zebra bream form shoals around the rocks and bright scarlet bullseye lobsters peer out from their lairs. Divers will not expect to see vibrant coral reefs this far north of the equator, but there are black corals, and bright tubular anemones with pink tips where striped cleaner shrimp hide.
In the darkest recesses of the basalt crannies are tiger morays. Poking their snouts from their lairs they seem to threaten anything that ventures too near, though like most sea creatures they never bother divers who treat them with respect.
Close to Los Cristianos is the wreck of the Condesito, a former cement barge that ran on to the rocks in 1972. Now colonized by marine life, it sits in 20 meters of water and the hull is home to barracuda and visiting amberjacks.
In winter, as the waters cool down, Tenerife offers divers a good chance of spotting angel sharks, curiously flattened fish that cover themselves in sand and wait for their prey to swim overhead. Suddenly, with lightning speed they open their mouths and suck in their unsuspecting victims, though they are harmless to people. Like stingrays the angel sharks have flat wing-like fins and are delicately camouflaged, which allows them to stay motionless on the sea bed.
For many divers the favorite sightings are the smaller fish that offer bright shoals of color: ornate wrasses, parrotfish and red mullet. Tenerife’s underwater rock formations also mean you have a good chance of spotting an octopus, its beautiful mottled skin flashing against the basalt. Its cousin, the cuttlefish, with their torpedo-shaped bodies, are also commonly seen.