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Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos

 

Once a sparsely populated rocky shoreline, the arid coast that stretches from PLAYA DE LAS AMÉRICAS and LOS CRISTIANOS in a contiguous string of developments is now the centre of commercial tourism on Tenerife. By averaging 320 days of sunshine a year, this area has become a package-tour heaven for sun seekers, with vast swathes of land occupied by huge, impersonal hotels and consistently crowded beaches that are home to two thirds of the island's visitors and countless expatriate hangers-on.

With the exception of the old harbour town of Los Cristianos, most of this conurbation has been built from scratch in the last thirty years. It must have taken a considerable leap of imagination to see economic potential in the barren, baking-hot land, particularly when even the most basic aspects of the local environment had to be adapted for tourism. Not only did engineers have to pipe in water and build desalination plants, but they even shipped in sand from the Sahara to make beaches, constructing huge concrete breakwaters to prevent them from being washed away. The vast scale and complexity of the engineering that went into making these resorts is phenomenal, and given the speed at which it has been created, it is a tribute - of sorts - to human achievement.

Most visitors spend a good part of their time on one of the area's half-dozen beaches , which are crowded with regimented lines of sunshades and loungers. The breakwaters that shelter these beaches produce a gently lapping sea which is perfect for swimming. A range of water sports and equipment is also on offer - from pedal boats, jet skis and motorboats to parascending or being towed on an inflated banana. The more adventurous might also like to try learning to scuba dive, with one of a number of local dive operations. And should resort life become too much to bear, you'll find that even the tackiest resorts have their quiet and exclusive spots, and the well-developed tourist infrastructure makes it easy to escape to the region's quieter parts, making this a good base from which to explore the rest of the island.

In addition, there are a couple of attractions within easy reach of the resorts - Parques Exóticas is an imaginatively laid out animal park and Jardines del Atlantico:Bananera is, as you might expect, a Banana farm with exhibitions on the locally grown fruit.

Playa de la Las Américas
The reputation of Playa de las Américas as a concrete jungle of tackiness and hedonism is second to none in the Canaries. This three-kilometre long sprawl of hotel and apartment complexes, housing some 100,000 beds, divides up into a number of districts with subtly different characters.

Central Las Américas was thrown up in the 1970s to cash in on the booming tourist trade. What emerged was a number of particularly ugly complexes - but they were cheap and holidays here sold well, at least at first. By the mid-1980s the resort's popularity began to dwindle, partly from competition elsewhere and partly because many of the resort's facilities were becoming tatty and unappealing. Despite renovation attempts since, the bland concrete commercial centres at the heart of the resort remain - though they now house the throbbing nightlife for which the resort is notorious and as such form the main attraction for many young visitors to the island.

To improve the resort's image and finances there has been some effort to attract more affluent tourists, with four- and five-star hotels apearing in the more salubrious districts on the edges of Playa de las Américas. Just north of central Las Américas, San Eugenio and its British-dominated northern neighbour Torviscas have successfully become family destinations, while the new yachting marina Puerto Colon between the two is slowly emerging as a trendy stop-off for the yachting set. At the northern fringes of Las Américas is the soulless but relatively stylish and rapidly expanding resort of Fañabé - though visitors should be aware that its beach is still under construction as are many of its swanky hotels, which huddle around empty shopping centres. The Gran Hotel Melia Bahía del Duque , the most luxurious accommodation on the island, is at the northern end of this district.

Attempting to project a similar, exclusive image as Fañabé, Los Moritos , to the south of central Las Américas and bordering Los Cristianos (leaving it no space to sprawl) is near some of the least crowded beaches - the extravagant architecture of the five-star Mare Nostrum Resort setting the local tone.

Los Cristianos
Though it's difficult to tell where Los Cristianos finishes and Las Américas begins, the centre of Los Cristianos, nestling beside the steep bleak Montaña Chayofita and the town's main beach and harbour is easy to identify. The atmosphere here, while undeniably touristy, is much less conspicuously synthetic and less tawdry than that of its sprawling neighbour. This is mainly because it has grown much more organically - from fishing village to port and then, since the 1960s, to an agreeable and relatively sedate resort attracting families and a large contingent of retired folk. Today, it is still home to many Canarians. The town's pedestrianized centre is filled with restaurants, shops and services targeting the many strolling holiday-makers. Its relatively low-rise buildings overlook the harbour and the substantial Playa de Los Cristianos , while high-rise apartment blocks dominate the outskirts of the town, particularly on its eastern side towards the footslopes of the barren Montaña Guaza . The town spreads a good way west of the harbour area, too, melting with Las Américas along a rather theoretical western boundary in the middle of the wide Playa de Las Vistas .

 

Also See:
 
• Arrival And Information
• Getting Around
• Eating
• Nightlife And Entertainment
• Listings
• Explore Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos
• Hotels in Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos
 


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