28th October 2015

A Local’s Guide to Tenerife with Joe Cawley


As author of the bestselling More Ketchup Than Salsa: Confessions of a Tenerife Barman and Tenerife travel guide My Destination Tenerife, Bolton-born Joe Cawley is more than qualified to share advice on how to make the most of a visit to Tenerife.  In 1991, he swapped a career on a fish market in the north of England for life as a Tenerife bar owner. Armed with zero business/catering experience and an over-riding sense of ‘what could go wrong?’, he plunged feet-first into buying the Smugglers Tavern in La Caleta. Since moving lock, stock and barrel to Tenerife he’s become quite the expert on island life. We recently caught up with Joe to find out his top travel tips…



tenerife collage

Joe Cawley first made the move to Tenerife in 1991


A Local’s Guide to Tenerife with Joe Cawley


When a friend visits me in Tenerife, the first place I take them is to a quayside restaurant in Los Abrigos because a slow seafood lunch facing a watery horizon sets the pace and theme for the rest of their stay. The two best things about Tenerife are the weather (naturally) and the relatively slow pace of life. I’m currently in recovery mode after a short trip to London which always leaves me with cerebral whiplash from the full-throttle pace. You can’t beat a winter trip to Tenerife for maximum, warm weather gloating opportunities while northern Europe turns blue.


Where to Eat in Tenerife


mojo sauce

Steak with a side of traditional mojo sauce



Head to The Golden Mile in Playa de Las Americas for restaurants and bars. I’d recommend the Monkey Bar & Grill for lunch, Bianco for dinner and Magic for drinks.  If you only try one local dish, sample the homemade mojo, it’s a ubiquitous dip served with anything from bread to fish and ranges from the mildest of greens to the fieriest of reds. Flash Point in El Medano is a great spot to stop for coffee while you watch the windsurfers.


Before You Visit Tenerife


tenerife rugged

Tenerife’s unusual, otherworldly landscapes


Read something about the terrain and the unusual landcapes on the island. People think Tenerife is a one-dimensional beach resort but it’s actually one of the most diverse islands on the planet with jungle-like forests, dizzying canyons and a surreal high-mountain moonscape.


Tenerife for Families


siam park tenerife

Siam Park, Tenerife


I’d recommend taking the family to Siam Park because your kids would never forgive you if you didn’t… and we all know that you use them as an excuse to satisfy your ‘inner child’ on some of the best water rides in the world.


Tenerife for Free


mount teide

Mount Teide


Driving up to Mount Teide is the best thing to do for free in Tenerife. Not many tourists know about Alcala but you should go there because you can snorkel with turtles. If you want to get away from the busier resorts, I’d recommend a trip to El Medano or Alcala.


Tenerife Beaches


playa de las teresitas

Playa de las Teresitas

The south has the best beaches on the island. You get the most beautiful sunsets in Playa San Juan when the sun slips behind the island of La Gomera and the harbour reflects the changing tones as the sky turns from blazing amber to a glory of red.


These are Joe’s tips for Tenerife.  Have you visited Tenerife recently?  Got some tips to share?  Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

Fiona Hilliard

Fiona Hilliard

A love of new cultures is what drives Dublin travel writer Fiona Hilliard to explore the cities of Europe and beyond.


  • Susan Jackson

    Thanks for the article Joe! I love having a local perspective on things to do, it sounds as if people could easily miss the best parts.

    28th October 2015 at 4:25 pm
  • Alan Rayner

    Great overview – with clues on how to experience more – but it takes time to attune to the REAL Tenerife.
    I was impressed that Joe takes visitors first to Los Abrigos – an excellent venue (reserve a window table!).
    Between there and El Medano is the La Tejita expanse of sandy beach with safe access to the ocean and
    a deck-chair attendant who learned perfect English during two years in London.

    However, even that can be too rapid a pace for some and there is an antidote nearby. Less than three hours
    away by ferry or forty minutes by ‘plane is the island of Tranquility – El Hierro – a secret gem of the
    Western Canary islands. It is said that those who spend more than ten days on El Hierro want to stay there
    for ever. How long does it take for the same feeling on Tenerife?

    31st October 2015 at 12:24 am
  • Mia Pervan

    Thank you for the excellent tips about what to see, eat and enjoy in Tenerife. Do you think you could suggest where to stay and the approximate price of a hotel room there.
    Thanks in advance.

    7th November 2016 at 10:45 pm

Leave a Comment