Always Respect the Ocean

Wed, September 3rd, 2014 - By Linda

Last week a British holidaymaker tragically lost his life, swept off rocks in the Adeje area of Tenerife, so it’s important to explain some things about the ocean for those who aren’t as familiar with it as we are.


Rough seas at Los Abrigos


The ocean can be deceptive, even on a sunny, windless day. The Canarian archipelago lies in the North Atlantic, and the year-round warm sun and soft breezes sometimes lull even locals into forgetting how huge waves can sometimes be. In a moderate swell there can be just one, freak wave, and it can happen at any time of year. For those unaccustomed to the sea, there is more danger in underestimating a calm day than when a gale blows.

The rule is quite simple, even if you’re a good swimmer, and certainly if you don’t swim, stay away from those areas where the waves break onto a rocky shoreline.


Blue Flag


When in doubt, look for Blue Flag beaches, where having lifeguards is a requirement of the award. Tenerife has 15 Blue Flag beaches, including two in El Médano, two in Playa de las Americas, four on the west coast, between Costa Adeje and Los Gigantes, and two in Puerto de la Cruz. These awards are annual, and so liable to change. Keep an eye open for the distinctive blue flag.

If you go to a smaller beach, or walk along the shoreline, remember there’s safety in numbers, avoid the remote places when there is a big swell. Canarian families flock to beaches like Poris de Abona or San Marcos in summer, but if you’re not a strong swimmer don’t assume you can do what the local kids do. I swear some of them are half fish!


Playa Las Vistas, Los Cristianos


As Jack pointed out in a post a couple of years back, the main resort beaches are safer than those remote ones. In Los Cristianos, for example, authorities decided to close Las Vistas beach during last week’s swell, as a precaution.  Looking at that same beach today, it was hard to imagine it anything other than tranquil. High seas of this type are not driven by winds, but by ocean swells that begin far out to sea, so the absence of wind isn’t really an indication.

Hotels receive notifications when there are weather alerts; usually these are for heavy seas or for heat waves. You should be able to check with your reception if you suspect either, if they do not already have the information on display. There are also local English language newspapers and radio stations.


Lifeguard, Tenerife


In case of an accident of any type, whether on the coast or elsewhere, the number to ring is 112. If you do not speak Spanish you will be able to speak to an operator in English. Put it in your mobile, it can save valuable time if emergency services are needed. You should also have access to that number even when coverage is poor for other calls, but do remember to keep your phone charged.

With approaching two million Brits visiting Tenerife this year, the odds of you needing this advice may be remote, and if most of this seems like common sense, it is. However, occasionally, in relaxed holiday mode we forget the obvious. Hopefully, you won’t need it, and can simply enjoy our normally wonderful weather.

Posted : Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 at 1:05 pm
Category : about tenerife
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