Playa de San Juan – an ideal destination for tourism

The small picturesque fishing village of Playa de San Juan is in the municipality of Guía de Isora, on the west coast of Tenerife. Sheltered from the Trade Winds, the area has virtually all year sunshine and very little rainfall, making it an ideal destination for tourism.
Playa de San Juan is taking its development slowly and seriously; the construction of apartments and sea front amenities is high quality and meticulous; design is sympathetic with the natural environment and its users.

Along the walkways there are numerous bins and bags provided for dog owners and an abundance of slate and brick benches to accommodate strollers and gazers. Amongst its attractions are a clutch of excellent restaurants offering top notch dining in fish and seafood, Canarian and International cuisine.
The five star Abama hotel, on the cliffs above the village, opens its doors in November 2005 and will doubtless attract many well heeled and discerning visitors to this part of the island; when it does, Playa de San Juan will be ready for them.

Part of the Daute Menceyate (Kingdom) of the Guanches (first inhabitants of Tenerife), the municipality of Guía de Isora was sparsely populated due to the lack of rainfall and therefore any source of water; other than one or two cave dwellers who herded sheep and goats; the area was officially described in 1558 as ‘unpopulated ground’.
The coastal area of Playa de San Juan existed only as a fishing centre and, up until the 1950s, a tuna factory, a lime kiln and fishermen’s cottages were all that lined the natural harbour and coves of the village. As with most of the Canary Islands, hardship and poverty forced much of the population to immigrate to South America in search of work; it was wealth brought back by those same families, returning in the 1950s, that financed the construction of galleries and wells, bringing water to the area and so initiating its economic development. The water enabled cultivation of bananas and tomatoes which are still the mainstay of the municipality’s economy.
The importance of those immigrants to its current economic stability is recognised in many of Playa de San Juan’s street names, like Avenida del Emigrante and Avenida de Venezuela.
As cultivation grew in importance, so the fishing industry declined and the tuna canning factory closed but happily there’s still a sizeable fishing fleet working out of the pretty harbour, ensuring a plentiful supply of fresh fish for the restaurants.

What to See
The newly developed coastal walk is the best way to see the village as most of its attraction lies along the extensive sea front and harbour.
Beginning to the north west of the village, the walk runs alongside a rugged coastline formed by lava and fashioned by the sea over the centuries into fantastic columns and arches. The unsuspecting passer-by is spasmodically subjected to a loud roar followed by a violent plume of air and spray from cliff side blow holes, like lava whales sculptured from the rock.

The outline of La Gomera is ever present on the horizon and when visibility is good, the towns of San Sebastian and Playa Santiago can clearly be seen. The path hugs the coastline and joins Avenida del Emigrante which sweeps down the hill, past bars and restaurants, to the harbour. The harbour wall gives an excellent vantage point to La Gomera and back over the village to the plantations that climb the hillside to Las Cañadas outlined on the horizon. From here, the walk becomes the decked ‘Paseo Maritimo’ lined with pavement cafes alongside the marina with its brightly coloured fishing boats and leisure craft reflecting the sun across the water’s surface.
The path widens into a paved boulevard lined with Tulip Trees and Flame of the Forest, their branches giving shade to the benches constructed beneath them. From here, the path leads to the old lime oven before climbing the cliff to a sculpture of a serpent’s head and then ambling along the cliff top to a ruined canning factory below the banana plantations. There’s a bit of leg stretching required but the views back over the village from this vantage point are well worth the climb.

What to do
Hitting rock bottom
The clear seas around Playa de San Juan offer numerous fascinating dive sites. With bizarre rock formations teeming with sea creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours, new divers will discover a magical kingdom that no theme park could match. The team at Solobuceo can provide a range of courses and dives to suit all levels of experience, including a cool sounding night dive and barbeque overlooking the beach.
(+34) 922 865 900, 607 596 138; Calle Canarias, 10; courses from €240, dives from €24;

Get close to nature
For those who prefer to keep their heads above water, a spot of whale and dolphin watching should provide an exciting alternative. An excursion from San Juan harbour takes only a maximum of nine people, ensuring that you’ll get that little bit closer to the world of these beautiful creatures and won’t have to shoulder charge mobs of other excited passengers to take that perfect photo of Flipper.
(See contact details for SoloBuceo above)

The noble game
Although only opened in April 2005, Abama golf has already played host to some prestigious golf enthusiasts, including former US president Bill Clinton. Join the small, but exclusive league of extraordinary gentlemen and test your golfing skills on the Abama’s beautifully designed, tropical par 72 course. Alternatively, if swing’s not your thing, the Abama has a first class tennis club and, for the less strenuously inclined, a fabulous Wellness and Spa Centre, perfect for a bit of pampering.
(+34) 922 126 700; green fees €180, including buggy; [email protected]

On the roadside at the start of the village, a busy farmer’s market, car boot sale and flea market offer something for everyone, from fresh produce to bric-a-brac and clothing.
Open every Sunday and Wednesday from 09.00-13.00

Where to Stay
You can’t fail to miss the sandstone turrets of the brand new, five star deluxe hotel on the cliffs just beyond the village. The Abama offers superior accommodation including individual luxury villas, a choice of eight restaurants; amongst them Japanese, gourmet and Argentinian, a bewildering array of spa and health treatments, three bars and a jazz club. Oh, and not to forget the par 72 golf course, international tennis academy, seven tennis courts, four paddle courts and beach with golden sand. No expense has been spared to ensure an experience of unbridled indulgence.
To celebrate its opening, the Abama is offering a very special deal to Tenerife residents between the 1st November and the 22nd December 2005; just €266 for a double room with breakfast; people may be injured in the rush!
(+34) 922 865 444; Carretera General TF-47;; double rooms from €418 per night

Carla’s apartments occupy pole position right at the start of Paseo Maritimo and have large balconies overlooking the harbour and La Gomera by day, and romantic sunsets by evening. Characterised by oodles of floor space, bright, airy rooms, fully equipped kitchens and, with Carla’s dulcería and pastelería downstairs, the promise of a very good breakfast indeed.
(+34) 922 865 967; Avenida Emigrante, 6; two bedroom apartments €48 per night, one bedroom €42 per night

Where to Eat

The contemporary nautical style of the MarSalá’s exterior compliments Paseo Marítimo’s chic boardwalk perfectly; inside, the spick and span dining area invokes images of a galley on a luxury yacht. The quality of the food meets the same exacting standards; traditional ingredients are given a twist to create delectable dishes like Salmon en papillote with spinach and almonds.
(+34) 902 077 079; Paseo Marítimo; average cost of a main course €14; open13.30-15.30 & 19.30-22.30, closed Monday

An immaculate, bougainvillaea covered patio might provide a romantic setting, but the international menu demands some assertive decision making; from angler fish in Chablis sauce to venison with cèpes, everything sounds wonderful; delicious food in delightful surroundings.
(+34) 922 832 030; Avenida Emigrante, 29; average cost of a main course €12; open 18.00-23.00 Tuesday to Saturday, 12.00-17.00 Sunday, closed Monday

Casa Amadeo
This smart Italian restaurant is a good choice for lovers of fresh pasta and Italian dishes; if you like pizzas, the ones at Casa Amadeo are seriously big. Dark, polished wooden tables are situated on different levels around a circular bar; an effect which results in each area feeling intimate and cozy.
(+34) 922 832 025; Avenida Emigrante, 16; average cost of a main course €7; open11.00-01.00 daily

La Marina
If you subscribe to renowned seafood chef, Rick Stein’s mantra regarding preparing fish, “keep the cooking simple and the ingredients good,” you’ll enjoy the extensive choice of seafood on offer at La Marina, where locally caught fish have a short journey from sea to plate at this popular restaurant near the harbour.
(+34) 922 865 062; Avenida Juan Carlos 1, 2; average cost of a main course €7; open 09.30-23.30 daily

Nightlife in Playa de San Juan tends to revolve around the great choice of restaurants in town; however there are also a few friendly bars. Plaza Iglesia comes alive at night with the laughter and good natured banter of local men playing cards and dominoes with ‘mucho gusto’. Opposite the church, Tasca Canarias is a friendly modern tasca with a traditional feel; ideal for enjoying the atmosphere of a small Canarian plaza. For a more romantic beachside alternative, La Taberna del Puerto and Marlin, overlooking the harbour, are perfect places to relax and enjoy the sound of live music mingling with the gentle lapping of the water. Nightlife tends to wind down around midnight; however, the good news for night owls and Jazz and Blues aficionados is that from December, the Morocco Jazz Club at the nearby Abama will be producing laid back sounds from 21.00 until around 02.00.

From Puerto de la Cruz, the 325 service to Los Gigantes runs approximately every two hours between 06.20 and 19.15; in Los Gigantes change to the 473 for Playa de San Juan.
From Las Americas and Los Cristianos the 473 service travels to Los Gigantes via Playa de San Juan at approximately twenty minute intervals throughout the day.

The taxi rank is beside Plaza Iglesia on Avenida Juan Carlos 1. The local number is 922 860 840

Tourist Information
The nearest office is at Playa de la Arena, located in a small passage opposite the beach and taxi rank.
(+34) 922 860 348; Puerto Santiago, Centro Commercial “Seguro el Sol”, Calle Manuel Ravelo, 20; open 09.00-14.30 Monday to Friday, 09.30-12.30 Saturday, closed Sunday

There is free parking the length of Playa de San Juan’s seafront as well as some spaces beside the harbour.

The main fiesta of the Virgen del Carmen falls on the first Sunday in August. An emotional procession, accompanied by dancers and musicians, carries the figure of the Virgin through the streets to the harbour. Once there, she’s carefully placed in a fishing boat and taken to sea accompanied by a cacophony of sirens from the convoy that follow her around the bay.

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