Drinking Spanish beer on a sailboat listening to Coldplay, surrounded by a pack of pilot whales on the coast of the Canary Islands. I have a lot of happy places, and this moment is definitely one of them.
As it’s been a bitterly cold February, I’ve caught myself daydreaming of warmer days, specifically a warm week spent in Tenerife almost exactly a year ago.
And as it turned out, a trip to Tenerife in February was the ideal escape. The water was a bit too cold for swimming–okay, very much too cold for swimming–but the sun never left the sky and although the temperatures were forecasted for the high 60s, we comfortably laid out on the beach and even managed to take home some gnarly sunburns.
Tenerife, one of seven of the islands that form the Canaries, has a great volcano and a rugged mixture of landscapes. We stayed in a fabulous Airbnb, from which we could see the ocean.
Sometimes, I think the best vacations are the ones with little to no plans at all. Our only plans were to wander up and down the coast, soak up the radiant sunshine while drinking some brewskis, and…
We signed up for a day-long sailing adventure with Tenerife Sailing Charters. We were a small group of about ten, which I so prefer in these situations. The boat was stocked with beer and sandwiches and we had a knowledgable guide that knew exactly where to take us. Not to mention, we cruised along while listening to Coldplay on repeat. It wasn’t long before we saw dolphins playing around a fishery, and shortly after we spotted what we were after! Pilot whales. A huge pod of pilot whales. If this isn’t nice, then I don’t know what is.
Pilot whales are small and tend to resemble dolphins to the untrained eye. They have a melon-shaped head and due to the reliably warm waters, they stick around Tenerife fishing for squid year round.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it time and time again. Nothing in the whole entire world can bring me more happiness than watching these majestic creatures live a free, natural and healthy life in boundless turquoise waters. Witnessing creatures like these in their natural habitat, exactly where they’re supposed to be, can literally bring tears to my eyes. (I’m glaring at you, Sea World and company.)
We turned the boat off and listened to them breath in the salty ocean for about an hour.
Once the whales (and the Portuguese man o’ wars) moved on, we sailed over to some coves to snorkel and eat lunch. With the understanding of the potential to swim with sea turtles, I decided to give snorkeling a go. I knew the water was chilly, but it was actually an ice bath. I jumped right in, flippers first, and hastily swam right back to the boat as my lips turned blue and my teeth chattered together uncontrollably. I’d save the sea turtles for someday in Hawaii.
After several hours of relaxing and sunbathing in the cove, it was time to head back to the harbor. But not so fast! Our sailboat had other ideas. After a dramatic, life-saving rescue from our malfunctioning boat, we were soon on the competition’s sailboat, comfortably eating more free food and downing more beers, listening to our new captain chuckle about returning us to his ex-boss that recently fired him! Scandalous.
Tenerife was such a stunning island and I only wish I had time to explore more of the chain. If in doubt about traveling there during the winter months, have no fear. February is a terrific time to visit, especially since it’s still warm and it’s the off-season! That means empty beaches, lower prices, and a continued promise of pilot whale sightings.