Black Sands, Playgrounds

December 15, 2016

 

Photos by Adam Laister

 

We were stood at the clifftops in the stunning North of the island. We could see potential surf spots surrounded by jaw dropping scenery so far down from our altitude that the villages littering the coastline looked like dolls houses.

Three days into our trip we were driving a circuit around the entire island to spot check and see what the Spanish surf paradise had to offer. I had decided to go to Tenerife, the most populated of the Canary Islands chain, only about 8 weeks earlier. The Canary Islands are close to my heart as it was upon these islands where I felt surfing was my calling. Years back I gave up what most would agree a decent career path in finance to chase waves and relocated from Manchester to Cornwall, UK. A big change from the city to beachside farming and fishing county.  

Just before making the move I traveled to the Canaries to experience a three month solid surf trip, to find myself and to confirm this really was what I wanted to move for. I have been to all the major islands after having made a few trips since and still find myself discovering new waves, new sights, exciting people and seeing things differently every time.

 

 

The original reason for this surf trip was to take a break and bring photographer Adam Laister with me to make a short video and take shots of a fun, late spring, surf adventure before we both became to busy to get away in the height of summer.  

 

I chose Tenerife for a few reasons. From the UK it is affordable to get to; it is one of the main islands which I have surfed the least and although the swells are not huge it's reefs are exposed to the prevailing swells in the spring/summer. The other islands that are famous for surf here,  often lay victim to the easterly winds. This renders them surfless (unless blown out whitewater is your thing) and only good for the windsurf and kitesurf community in the warmest seasons. Tenerife seemed only to have this problem on its south east coast.

However, fate had it that the Canary Islands Surf Film Award announced a competition. A grand prize of 50,000 Euros (around $78,000) for the best surf video.

 

The cut off is the 1st August 2016 which meant we were just in time to enter a film. As a great believer in fate I was stoked to hear this and quickly contacted Adam to explain our good luck. He was up for it replying  "Oh snap, 50k! Even the runner-up prizes must be sick for a comp that big, gotta give it a go hey!"

Our first few days in Tenerife we woke up to golden sunrises, ran down to the palm scattered promenade, tip toed over the sharp volcanic rock reefs and were blessed with glassy punchy waves. My favourite kind, breaking over shallow reef makes for a beautiful view through the clear water as well as power for an easy take off and set up for nice fast turns.

 

The reefs in the popular Playa las Americas area are busy but as there are many in a short space you can always find one right for you as long as you are keen to paddle battle the locals. I enjoyed Fitenia, a low tide a-frame, peeling left or short steep right. Although one day the swell came through with more northerly than we had experienced making the place really shifty. Adam ended up dragged behind a breakwater. He gave me a thumbs up that he was ok but I got up on the breakwater anyway to see if he needed a hand out. He was climbing up, with his in water camera set-up and his fins on (no easy task!) when a set wave slammed him! He held on the rocks and clambered up. Luckily he was just a little roughed up, and got a few urchin spines in his heel.

 

The next spot along is Conquistador. There is a right or a left, depending on whether there is a North Westerly or Southerly swell. If its a left day, there is a rock that appears right where I would end my waves. This spot was where I encountered the most reef cuts, oh and urchin spines, and I ended up getting my husband to tweeze one out of my heel when I returned to Cornwall. Oops!

 

La Izquierda / spanish left was my favourite spot. The waves were so fun and late drops were common. The scenery is amazing, and you surf to a backdrop of a volcano, with a city on the beach around the bottom. Truly an urban beach surf paradise.

At the back end of our adventure the surf dropped off on the south as a small island, La Gomera was in the way of Las Americas, blocking out a westerly swell. The north of the island was only an hour drive away so we went up there for some black sand, beach break fun.

 

This is where I found out that a few locals here are not always happy to share their spots. There was a fast long righthander breaking in front of some boulders and I was enjoying chasing the wave, taking high lines and flying down the wave. There were only two guys in the water so I was relaxed. They dropped in on me a few times, and the way they were looking at me told me it was on purpose! After a while I got fed up of this and pulled one of the guys off a wave by the ankle, and took the next one. Hoping that would just tell them to back off and share, it must have just made them angry. One of the guys made it to the inside and tried to hit me with his surfboard. I really don't believe in violence over waves and surfing is my escape from negativity. I decided to leave them to it and head over to another peak to continue surfing with good vibes.

 

Despite the hiccups with locals and urchins I am left with a great feeling from my trip to Tenerife. Not many places can you chase North, South, East and West for surf in as little as an hour. The canarian people adhered to the siesta like clockwork, reminding me of the importance of relaxation and rejuvination from our busy days. That is something I will take home with me.  For the video we went there to film , the waves were a little on the small side after the first swell, but we gave it our best shot and really got into the surf that was on offer and the huge volcano behind the surf made the shots unique. The swell is much bigger in the northern winter, which is when I'd normally go. But if you are after a fun, warm surf adventure and an intro to reef surfing it is perfect for you.





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