Tenerife’s coastline isn’t just made up of beaches, and for good reason – a vast number of different landscapes have been forged by this volcanic island. Lava plays a leading role in these authentic and genuine hideouts, where going for a dip becomes a whole new experience.
We’re Guacimara and Pedro. We were born here on this island we love so much, and since 2016, we’ve been introducing the world to Tenerife through our project: Tenerifelicidad.
As sea-lovers, we’ve been scouring the island in search of new charcos (a kind of natural pool formation), and now we’d like to show you our rankings.The island’s coastline is filled with charcos. Some have been modified, others have been left untouched, lava counters the force of the Atlantic to leave us with crystal-clear waters and unique depths.
But before we head out on our adventure, we need to define exactly what a charco is, and how they differ from natural swimming holes.
When we locals refer to “charcos”, we’re talking about a natural phenomenon very characteristic of Tenerife and the Canary Islands (and other locations with volcanic activity). They’re holes in the sea formed by lava due to an eruption or erosion of rock over time.
Sometimes they’re left in their natural state, and sometimes they’re modified to make them safer and easier to access – but at any rate, they’re still natural formations. That’s the main difference between what we call a charco, and a natural swimming hole. Despite being filled with fresh or sea water, natural swimming holes are man-made creations – they’re not formed naturally.
Most of Tenerife’s most beautiful natural charcos can be found in the north of the island, though there are some real gems to be discovered in the south, too.
Before you embark on your adventure, there are two important things to bear in mind. Firstly, make sure you pack some water shoes so you can stand comfortably on the floor of the charco; secondly, never underestimate the power of the sea. Stay alert, and if the sea is very strong, don’t risk it.
Right, now it’s time for a trip around…
Tenerife’s most beautiful natural charcos
Charco del Viento
Found in La Guancha, it’s one of the largest and most accessible. This is an example of a charco that has been modified. We’re still including it in this list though, because that doesn’t mean to say that isn’t amazing.
Charco de La Laja
Located in the north, in San Juan de la Rambla, the Charco de la Laja is a local favourite.
The choppy waters in this part of the island makes bathing difficult. That is, unless you happen to find yourself in somewhere like this charco, where lava has formed a natural pool with calm waters right on the border of an almost constantly turbulent sea.
With such strong tides, the waves beat against the rocks that protect the charco, cascading down the inside like a waterfall. It’s a real sight to see.
Charco de La Jaquita
Modified from its original form, it’s been respectfully incorporated into its surrounding environment resulting in a beautiful spot that’s perfect for a quick dip.
La Jaquita has been seamlessly incorporated into the promenade connecting the entire Alcalá coastline, along the south side of Tenerife. This is a nice alternative if you’re looking for a calm, safe experience, because the sea is a lot calmer in the south.
Charco Las Mujeres
What stands out the most about this charco, which you’ll find in Buenavista del Norte, is that the floor is made of black sand. This makes it ‘more comfortable’ for bathing in.
Watching the sunset from here is really something, and the mountain views are like something from a dream.
You can even bathe in waters at a perfect temperature whilst you watch the fog cover the mountain.
And in case you fancy paying it a visit, let us tell you a little secret: there’s mini charco inside it that heats it up, making the temperature in that spot a few degrees warmer than anywhere else.
Charco de La Virgen
You’ll find this small, completely natural charco in Arico, on the south side of the island. The only thing that’s been changed here is the metal staircase, added so people can access it.
This small jacuzzi-like charco by the edge of the sea is testament to how unpredictable nature can be.
It comes and goes with the tide. At high tide, it’s completely covered by the sea, and when it lowers again, it reappears.
El Charco Verde
Charco Verde, in La Guancha, is a hidden gem that only the most adventurous should try to visit. That’s because you can only get there on foot, and it’s not an easy walk.
If you’re willing to face a hike along small paths that can become quite tiresome on sunny days, you’ll be rewarded with a uniquely beautiful little paradise with crystal-clear waters and authentic colour. It’s well worth the trip.
Charco del Tancón
Instagram has made this small charco one of Tenerife’s most famous, for both its turquoise waters and the unusual fact that it’s in a cave hidden inside Puerto Santiago.
As it is in a cave, it’s actually one of the most dangerous charcos on the island.
This charco is one of those impressive, magical, untamed areas that’s worth getting to know, both for its crystal-clear waters and because the whole thing is surrounded by walls of basalt, which plays with the sunlight and makes it all very authentic.
But BE CAREFUL. This location is a geological blowhole, so you can only go for a bathe when the tide is out and the conditions are perfect.
No matter how appealing it may look, bathing in El Tancón when the water is choppy is a huge risk that just isn’t worth taking.
This has been just seven of the many charcos and natural swimming holes hidden all over the island, where you can enjoy a different, more local and authentic experience in Tenerife. And even though there are many more, a trip to just some of the charcos we’ve mentioned in this list would be enough to switch off from the world around you and connect to a land with a salty soul and lava running through its veins.