Treat yourselves to a five-star experience at Playa del Duque and combine winter sun with fun-filled family activities. You'll keep coming back
Tenerife, with 5m+ visitors a year, is a great winter sun, short-haul destination for families. With average March/April temperatures of 22C, an Easter break is ideal after the British chill. Got kids? Forget the "real" Tenerife, that won't burn off that excess energy or keep them enthralled, instead head for the upmarket area of Playa del Duque on the Costa Adeje and use it as a base for a great, fun-filled yet relaxing holiday. It's worked for us for the last three years.
The 5-star hotels that populate this area offer luxury, good service and international cuisine and high standards, so allow you to concentrate on keeping the kids entertained. Whether it's at the new self-styled “water kingdom” of Siam Park or going ape in the Jungle Park, scuba diving in search of green turtles or just playing on the sandy beach or in the hotel pool, there is something for almost all families here.
Sheltered white sandy beach
Playa del Duque beach is in a small, quiet, sheltered bay with fantastic views out into the Atlantic: watch the yachts glide effortlessly by and the parascenders float through the sky. There are plenty of fixed straw parasols and loungers available to hire and sun-bleached walkways to prevent burning your feet on the blistering hot sand. Surrounded by designer boutiques and upmarket shops and restaurants, bars and cafes it's an oasis of good taste. (If, despite all this, the kids are yearning for nuggets and chips, there’s a McDonald's at the end of Fanabe Beach, a 15-minute walk away).
Get an adrenaline rush
You can't say here without a visit to Siam Park, (Costa Adeje, +34 822 07000 www.siampark.net), the Thai-inspired water park, a short taxi ride away (EU5) or free bus. The kids (and even the adults) will love it! We arrived shortly after opening at 10am – there were no queues – and stayed until closing at 5pm. A blue lagoon with its own beach and wave machine (check out the height of that wave – about 3m: you could surf it!) and a mix of rides to suit most tastes are surrounded by lush green vegetation and exotic flowers. Try the death defying Tower of Power virtual vertical drop which then rockets you through a clear underwater tube surrounded by fish or the more sedate bob along the lazy river in a rubber ring. Several height restrictions apply so best to check first if you have young children. The place was immaculately clean and tidy (it had only recently opened) and an army of staff are on hand to keep it this way. At around EU80 for a family of four it’s in line with most attractions in this part of Tenerife and a great way to spend a thrilling day.
Scuba diving: the hunt for the green turtles
If you’d like to venture further than the hotel pool or the edge of the beach, try scuba diving. OK, it’s not the Caribbean or the Maldives and the water is not as crystal clear, but the lure of seeing some green turtles drew us in. We booked with the dive instructor who came to the hotel and gave us a free taster session in the pool with all the kit. My youngest son loved the experience even though he didn't see any green turtles and because of his age he wasn't allowed to go very deep. However, the underwater photo of him in his dive kit surrounded by loads of fish gave him instant kudos with his mates back home.
Go ape at the Jungle Park
Tired of the beach and water? Try a day at Park Las Aguilas Jungle Park (www.aguilasjunglepark.com). It’s a shorter bus ride than the bigger Loro Parc and my two boys (aged 10 and 13) preferred it because it was more interactive. This jungle type setting has lots of paths, rope bridges and a jungle trail with birds and the non-dangerous animals roaming free but for the rest it’s pretty much like a zoo. They enjoyed the BOB ride because it went fast but it seemed very short for the money (an extra EU4). On the other hand, the bird show was excellent entertainment. It was amazing watching those magnificent birds of prey soaring free into the sky – each time we were convinced they weren’t coming back – then they’d swoop down with powerful grace onto the keeper’s arm or perch. One downside: you'll need sharp elbows to get on the homeward bound bus - it's a bun fight.
Where to stay
We have stayed at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Anthelia (C/Londres, 15 Urb.Playa del Duque, 38660 Costa Adeje), one of Iberostar’s flagship hotels, three times now and each time we are not disappointed. This five-star hotel has everything you’d expect from a hotel of this quality but without the stuffy formality and pretentiousness you often find in other upmarket hotels, making it a relatively stress free place to be with children. Accommodation is spacious with large patio doors with a balcony or patio and furniture. There are two pools but only one is heated which unfortunately means that the more spacious and attractive main pool, with great views out to sea, is under-used because the water can be less warm at Easter. There is great poolside waiter service at both pools but don't let the kids order the Haagen Dazs ice cream tubs every day - they are vastly overpriced. The Kids' Club takes the load off, being well suited to younger children.
Half-board offers a good deal
Five restaurants serve different cuisines, although as a family we prefer the grand buffet in the Zeus Restaurant - a mouth-watering cornucopia of food. Each night has a different theme. There's plenty of plain food on offer if your taste is simpler or you can go for gastronomic overload (we usually choose the latter-we're on holiday). The breakfast buffet is the best I've ever seen. Most of the waiting staff appear to be foreign (ie not Spanish), much to my son's disappointment, as he wanted to practice his Spanish on them, but they all speak good enough English. Portofinos by the pool is good for a lazy lunch.
And for the grown ups
For the grown-ups there’s a Thai ZEN Space offering Spa facilities such as massages, body wraps and water treatments, a gym, tennis and golf nearby. There's a show of variable quality every night - not a reason to stay here - and an evening disco for the kids.
There are flights to Reina Sofia Southern Airport from most UK airports and several major tour operators offer package holidays to Tenerife.