Although my preference was to laze around the pool the WHOLE holiday… in reality, this was never going to happen. Our two boisterous toddlers craved a change of scenery, and luckily, come rain or shine, Tenerife has a lot of family-friendly attractions on offer.
We didn’t visit every place that was recommended to us. It would have been expensive and time-consuming, but there was no end of choice from young children to teenagers. Here are just a few we encountered – and some we would have liked to have gone to. Maybe next time…
I get a little bit funny about going to zoos and animal attractions. I often get an over-riding feeling of guilt whenever I see animal cooped up in enclosure and cages. And, although, I know there are a lot of zoos around the world that maintain high standards and the animals’ welfare is paramount, I can’t help but feel sorry for them.
We visited Monkey Park on a rainy day. Desperate to amuse the kids, and not to drive very far, we piled into the van and made our way there. Be aware you can’t take any food with you, as it will be confiscated. The kids were excited to be given pouches of seeds and nuts and chopped up veggies and fruit – so excited they both began eating them, much to our horror!
Monkey Park is a conservation centre for endangered species and, unlike other zoos, visitors get to walk through the enclosures and feed some animals/reptiles with the purchased items. There are several problems attached this, which I ascertained when I saw one poor chap being shat on by a ring-tailed lemur. I sniggered, then realised it was imperative I look up above at all times… Luckily, there were only a few places where the animals perched high in the rafters.The second point to note was, some of the animals were so overfed they weren’t interested with the throng of visitors trying to entice them with tidbits and morsels. It was quite funny seeing some of animals’ air of nonchalance, as a rowdy group of Russian tourists were frantically waving nuts about.
However, when we arrived in the monkey enclosures, the food was definitely the only things the primates were after. Amazingly, they even pushed their hands through the fencing to take it out of the palm of your hands.
Even though I was apprehensive, I did notice that the cages and enclosures were very clean and the animals seemed to be well looked-after. The kids really enjoyed themselves and were delighted to be able to interact with the animals. It’s a small zoo but we spent a few hours amusing ourselves and learning about the different species of monkeys, birds and reptiles. The chimps and the gorillas were the main stars, attracting the crowd with their entertaining antics.
Entrance fee: €10 per adult; €5 for children over 5 years old
There are several waterparks in Tenerife, but we opted to go to Aqualand – as we had it on good authority that this particular park was suitable for young children – plus it was only a 10-minute drive away. It has a wide variety of different, adrenaline-filled slides including the kamikaze (which I was too chicken to go on), and the twister. Meanwhile, there is a huge family section including several themed pools with soft, small slides and a children’s wave pool.
I hadn’t been on a water slide since my yoof, and was actually quite excited about the prospect on going on some! Monkey was a little overwhelmed at first, by all the different sights and sounds. Meanwhile, the temperature of the water was freezing and, because it wasn’t a scorcher of a day, it was quite a shock for him – and us – when we braved the lazy river. I
gracefully flopped into a double ring, but my bum turned numb as this was my only body part exposed to the water… I was also pleased Monkey was on top of me, as he hid my rolls of flab and I kept him relatively dry. Winner all round!
Surprisingly, the highlights for us was the dolphin show in the afternoon. We were both a little unsure about what to expect, as we’ve watched the superb 2013 documentary film Blackfish, which focuses on a killer whale called Tilikum, who is based in Sea World in Florida. I won’t go into too much detail, but it’s tough viewing, and really opens your eyes to issue of marine wildlife in captivity.
But after reading about Aqualand’s breeding programme and watching the fantastic award-winning show, it was clear to the see the trainers really love the dolphins (bred in captivity) and treat them well. I was also told by one of the handlers, that several programmes for disabled and seriously-ill children were run at the park so they could feel the healing benefits of swimming with these amazing creatures.
The show was exciting and jaw-dropping and Monkey clapped and squealed with delight. It was great to see him enjoy it so much. So much so that when it was over and he saw other children lining up to touch the dolphins, he turned to us and said:
M: ‘I want to stroke a dolphin, please mummy?’
Me: ‘Now are you sure you want to touch one?’
M: ‘Yes, yes mummy, purlease! I really want to.’
Me:’ Ok, but only if you’re sure – I think you might be scared…’
So, €20 lighter, we took our turn. The trainer tried to get Monkey to go into the water on his own first, but as I suspected, fear took over and he refused to do it. I’ve been lucky enough to see dolphins in the wild, but this is the first time I’ve been so close. I
couldn’t wait gallantly came to the rescue and waded straight in… and patted one of them. It was pretty amazing and he felt so smooth. Monkey clung to me for dear life!
Entrance fee: €20 per adult; €13.50 for children taller than 1.10metres; and €8 for toddlers. The dolphin show is included in the price.
Best of the rest near Costa Adeje
Siam Park claims to be the most spectacular water theme park in the whole of Europe. Judging from its popularity, it certainly attracts the tourists. The attraction is based around a Thai theme – Thai food and massages are available, while the rides and the slides are plentiful – from the lazy Mai Thai River, to the terrifying 28m drop Tower of Power. There are also several sections dedicated to smaller children, as well as a babyzone.
Entrance fee: €34 per adult; €23.00 for children 3-11 years old
This large natural wildlife park has a huge array of different species including tigers, leopards, alligators, sea lions and tropical birds. Not only are there several shows everyday to entertain visitors, there is a toboggan run ride which is great for adrenaline junkies and the jungle raid, consisting of ropes, bridges and tunnels. Jungle Park also gives children lots of opportunities to interact with some of the primates and birds.
Entrance fee: €24 per adult; €17.00 for children above 1.10metres; €8 for infants
Imagine going under the Atlantic and enjoying the sights of marine life without getting wet? And even better, being able to wow the kiddies with real adventure and board a real submarine… Submarine Safaris offer an underwater experience for the whole family – with each person getting their own viewing pod and a special diving certificate once the one-hour trip is over.
Fee: €42.50 per adult; €25.50 for children