Ever hopeful that this long winter will eventually blow away and let the mind begin to think of braving the waves, here is a brief outline of three favourite black sand beaches.
More commonly known as the beach at Punta Brava, savage point in honour of the fierce winter seas, Playa Jardín has become one of the finest in Tenerife after it was redesigned by the late Lanzarote artist and architect, César Manrique. The huge Atlantic rollers have been tamed by an artificial reef which still permits enough of a wave to please young body surfers and those who understand that the sea is not a pond and should be enjoyed for that reason. The beach is divided into three by volcanic formations which are filled with shallow rock pools where children learn to hunt innocent fish and crabs. The black sand is maintained immaculately clean and there is a good selection of cafés and restaurants. There is a rotting lookout tower which the ever present lifeguard refuses to climb, for his own safety, and he usually spends most of the day keeping an eye on the visitor who ignores his red and yellow flags.
Socorro beach is the north’s paradise for the eternal surfer. The great rollers are his idea of heaven. In fact ‘Socorro’ means HELP! In other words this beach is dangerous, particularly during the winter months when treacherous currents can be seen with the naked eye or when red flags and the lifeguard’s warnings are ignored. Surfers are very often called upon to help a tiring swimmer caught in a stream. But come August and September El Socorro becomes a family beach. The waters calm and become transparent and one can wade far out at low tide to catch the beginnings of an incipient body surfing wave.
Bollullo is an interesting and never crowded beach, possibly because it is reached by a long and steep track which has to be climbed again after a long day on the hot sands. For that reason it is a beach to spend the whole day on and a good ‘chiringuito‘ serves up simple lunches. Like most northern beaches which feel the pounding of the Atlantic waves, one has to beware of currents and the waves tend to break with a crash right on the edge. This makes actual swimming here difficult to recommend unless one is a local brought up on these beaches. However it is a delightful spot and not far to walk to from Puerto de la Cruz for that intrepid kind of tourist who prefers the tranquil cove to the din of the hotel pool. It is also reached down the winding track through the bananas in El Rincón and cars are still parked in the dusty car park which belongs to the good restaurant at the top of the cliff.
Local folk are very proud of their black sand beaches and foreign visitors often fall in love with them. One was once heard to remark that he preferred the black sand because it did not stick to the feet like the stuff in the south. Another remarked, “You can get very fit on the black sands because by mid-day in summer you have to run everywhere!”