We loved strolling the streets around the capital of Santa Cruz, although only another Canary Island, we could have been somewhere on the mainland of Spain, it was great to be in a big city again. We managed to stumble upon a great cafe with a €7.50 menú del día when we were waiting to check into our hotel, La Esquina del Parque is just a stroll through the park from the Grand Hotel Mencey.
Our first evening was spent finding our way around the main shopping streets of Santa Cruz, which we were enjoying until the heavens opened. We took shelter at the nearest bar with a free table until the rain eased as neither of us had thought to pack either a coat or umbrella.
Still drizzling, we decided to make a dash for it and headed for the Iglesia de la Concepción, which is an area of Santa Cruz where many of the old buildings have been converted into restaurants. There were a number of restaurants open with people sat sheltering under umbrellas outside, these didn’t really appeal due to the weather, so we walked further down the street and was delighted to find La Concepción where we enjoyed a fabulous meal and tasted our first Tenerife wine.
The weather was much improved the next morning, after a disappointing breakfast we checked out of the Grand Hotel Mencey and set out walking to find the Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de Africa. This colonial style food market opened on the 4th January 1994 and was designed by architect José Enrique Marrero, with three courtyards designed on a Spanish plaza and including an eyecatching Mudejar tower. It’s a fascinating place and open 7 days a week from 06:00 – 14:00.
These fellas made us smile during our tour of the market, did you spot their dog at the butcher’s counter! We trawled the fish hall until I spotted chicharros for sale, this is the blue jack mackerel found in abundance and a nickname given to the locals from Santa Cruz.
We walked out of the market and past the ultra modern TEA (Tenerife Espacio de las Artes) to cross the Barranco de Santos and past the Parroquia Matriz de Nuestra Señora de La Concepción, which is the main church of Santa Cruz and often referred to as the cathedral, even though it’s not one. Following the main road we then arrived at the impressive Plaza de España. The massive water feature here had been drained for maintenance, we didn’t envy the pool cleaners that job, it’s huge!
We just had time for a quick wander back through the shops to collect our car, before we set off to visit Candelaria during our drive down to the South.
On our last day, we had an hour spare before our flight and discovered that Santa Cruz also has a fantastic beach! In fact we’d go as far to say the best of those we’d seen on our first trip to Tenerife. Las Teresitas is hidden from view, you won’t find it unless you know where to look, you have to continue along the full length of the seafront, past the busy port, through the fishing village of San Andrés and then wow! It was a Friday afternoon and the place was buzzing, the beach bars were doing a mean trade in mojitos and a classic car cruise arrived drawing a crowd of spectators.
This beach is 1.5km with fine gold sand imported from the Sahara and an artificial reef providing a calm and safe sea to swim in. It’s planted with palms for shade, there’s sunbeds for hire, a large car park, an inflatable aquapark to play on, toilets & changing cubicles, lifeguards and chiringuito style beach bars.
We only touched the surface of what Santa Cruz has to offer, we loved the capital city and will definitely be back for more.