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Tuesday
Apr042017

Watersports in  Tenerife

This is by far the best place I've ever been to see whales and dolphins. I tried in India and spent a couple of hours cruising around before seeing a bit of a whale in the middle distance. It was fun, but it was essentially what I'd expected: not that much. There's never any guarantee you'll see something, but you can pretty much see pilot whales around 80% of the time out here. Because the coastline drops off so steeply and there's blue water only a few hundred metres from the shore, it's often possible to catch up with some cetaceans within minutes of leaving port.

What about when you're not on the boats, though? The sea's basically always warm, especially compared with the chilly waters of my homeland. It'd be a shame to waste the opportunity to get out there. Fortunately, you don't have to. There an absolute ton of watersports-type stuff to do out here, so no matter what you're into you can spend an afternoon doing varying amounts of falling off floating things, depending on what you're attempting to do and how good you are at it.

Sailing is actually pretty much my favourite thing to do on the water. It's not as adventurous as diving or as intense as surfing, but it's got this wonderfully intuitive feel to it. When you first start, there's a little bit of wondering what to do, where to point the boat, when to tack and similar... after a very little while, especially in a racing dinghy, all of that disappears and you're left with a bit of rope in one hand and a tiller in the other and you know exactly what to do... It's just you and the wind and the water and... alright, I'll stop before I continue to spout more needlessly romantic nonsense.

Kitesurfing is pretty much the only thing I've not actually tried yet. It looks like ridiculous fun, a totally different principle from sailing and windsurfing, more like that childhood fantasy of actually being lifted up by the kite you're flying. It looks like you might feel like your arms are being torn off after a couple of hours, but those couple of hours are surely worth it. I'll give a full report when I've ticked this off my list.

Parasailing is surprisingly chill. Once upon a time I thought it looked intense, hanging from a parachute behind a speedboat, falling with style. Since then I've realized that as you pretty much just travel gently forward and don't really need to have any impact whatsoever on your own movement, it's actually very relaxing. It's more like sitting in a reasonably comfortable if rather windy place which happens to be about twenty metres above the waves. When you're out there, you don't even get the feeling that you're inevitably going to get tangled with something (which seems certain when you watch people doing it from the shore).

Surfing is another one of those things which becomes very different after doing it for even a few hours. To begin with, it seems a lot like you're going to fall off as soon as you do anything; you find yourself very carefully shifting your weight in an attempt to wind up upright when you've caught a wave. After a little while, you realize that actually the best way to do it is to throw yourself around a bit: work out what your weight distribution is before you stand up, then throw yourself onto your feet and hope for the best. When you do actually ride a wave properly, it's an amazing feeling.

Diving, of course, isn't really a watersport. It is, however, enormous fun. The first time you scuba dive can feel a little odd; there's a lot of kit and it's nothing like freediving. At first, the tank of nitrox on your back is a little cumbersome, then you realize that you're breathing freely underwater and have all the gear you need to stay where you are without much messing about. Because the shore drops off so steeply, its one of the few places in the world where shorediving is a proper adventure rather than a splash in shallow waters. There are a good few wrecks to explore, which is always enormous fun.

Pretty much no matter what you're looking for, there will be countless opportunities to do exactly that in Tenerife. There are, of course, better places in the world for each individual activity, but there may not be a better place, on balance, to experience all of them. The water pretty much stays the same temperature all year round (comfortably warm), and right now the hot spring sunshine makes you glad that the water isn't much hotter. Out on the water is an awesome place to spend the afternoon, whether you want to sit under a parachute eternally falling forward, or balance on a shapely bit of fibreglass as you ride the waves back to shore.

By Oscar Hawes - Field Communications Officer

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