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The Fascinating Volcanic Features of Tenerife

Article by GVI


Posted: March 29, 2023

If you’re a traveller who is fascinated by volcanoes, then Tenerife is a destination that should be on your bucket list. This island in the Canary Islands archipelago is home to a breathtakingly diverse range of volcanic features that have shaped its landscape, ecosystems and culture. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through Tenerife’s volcanic history and explore its famous landmarks. We’ll also delve into the geological processes that have created these natural wonders and the impact of volcanoes on the island’s tourism industry and local communities.

A Brief Overview of Tenerife’s Volcanic History

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, has a fascinating volcanic history that has shaped its landscapes and ecosystems. The island was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions that started about 12 million years ago and continued until relatively recently. The most recent eruption occurred in 1909, but the island is still considered active as there are several dormant volcanoes that could potentially erupt in the future. The most famous of these is Mount Teide, which is the highest point in Spain and the third largest volcano in the world. The volcanic activity has created a diverse range of habitats on the island, from lush forests to barren volcanic landscapes, which support a rich array of flora and fauna. Tenerife’s volcanic history is a key part of its identity and makes it a unique and fascinating destination for travellers and scientists alike.

The Different Types of Volcanoes Found in Tenerife

Tenerife is home to a variety of volcanoes, each with its own distinct characteristics and features. The most prominent type of volcano on the island is stratovolcanoes, which are characterised by steep slopes and a conical shape. The famous Mount Teide is a prime example of a stratovolcano and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tenerife also has shield volcanoes, which are broader and flatter than stratovolcanoes and are formed by low viscosity lava flows. The Teno Massif in the northwest of the island is an example of a shield volcano. Another type of volcano found on Tenerife is the cinder cone, which is formed from explosive eruptions that eject fragments of lava into the air. These cones are typically smaller than other types of volcanoes and are found scattered throughout the island.

The Famous Volcanic Landmarks of Tenerife

Teide National Park is Tenerife’s most famous landmark and attracts millions of visitors every year. The park is home to Mount Teide its surrounding landscapes, including Las Canadas, which is dotted with striking geological formations such as Roque Cinchado and Los Azulejos. Other notable volcanic landmarks on the island include the Masca Valley, which has towering cliffs and is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Tenerife. The Los Gigantes cliffs are another popular natural attraction that are famous for their immense size and unique formations.

How Volcanoes Have Shaped the Island’s Geography and Ecosystems

The volcanic activity on Tenerife has created a diverse range of ecosystems that support unique flora and fauna. The island’s highest peaks, including Teide and Pico Viejo, are home to rare plant species such as the Teide bugloss, which is only found on Tenerife. The island also has a rich marine ecosystem, with an abundance of fish and other species that thrive in the clear waters around Tenerife. Volcanic features such as lava tubes and caves are home to bat colonies and other species that are adapted to living in these harsh environments.

The Best Hiking Trails to Explore Tenerife’s Volcanic Terrain

Tenerife is a hiker’s paradise, with a wide range of trails that offer stunning views of the island’s volcanic landscapes. Teide National Park has several hiking trails that lead through the park’s unique habitats, including the popular Telesforo Bravo Trail that takes you to the summit of Teide. The Masca Valley, with its steep cliffs and narrow path, is another popular hiking destination for adventurous travelers. Other hiking trails on the island include the Anaga Mountains and the Las Toscas Trail, which is ideal for families with young children.

Understanding the Risks and Safety Precautions When Exploring Active Volcanoes in Tenerife

Exploring Tenerife’s volcanoes can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. Visitors should always follow safety guidelines and avoid venturing into restricted zones or areas that are marked as unsafe. It’s also important to be prepared for changing weather conditions and to carry essential gear such as a first aid kit, water and a map. It’s always best to go with an experienced guide who can navigate the terrain and provide valuable insights about the island’s volcanic geology.

The Role of Volcanoes in Tenerife’s Tourism Industry

Tenerife’s volcanoes are a major draw for tourists, bringing in millions of visitors who come to explore the island’s unique geological features. Tour operators offer a wide range of activities such as hiking, volcano tours and stargazing that showcase the island’s volcanic landscapes. The tourism industry has played a key role in the island’s economy, providing jobs and opportunities for local businesses. However, the influx of tourists can also pose a challenge to the environment and local communities. Sustainable tourism practices that ensure the protection of the island’s natural resources and cultural heritage are essential for the long-term viability of the industry.

The Cultural Significance of Tenerife’s Volcanic Landscapes

Tenerife’s volcanic landscapes hold immense cultural significance for the island’s inhabitants. The island’s unique geology has shaped the physical terrain and provided the fertile soil necessary for agriculture, particularly for the cultivation of vineyards that produce renowned wines. The volcanic rock has also been used in the construction of traditional buildings and the creation of local crafts. Moreover, the island’s folklore is rich with stories and legends about the powerful deities believed to reside within the volcanoes, reflecting the deep spiritual connection that the people of Tenerife have with their volcanic landscape. This connection can be traced back to the Guanche people, the island’s original inhabitants, who revered the mountains and believed that they were the abodes of gods. Today, the sacred nature of the volcanic landscape continues to inspire art, music, and traditions on the island, making it an important part of Tenerife’s cultural heritage.

Future Implications: Studying and Monitoring Tenerife’s Active Volcanoes

Studying and monitoring Tenerife’s active volcanoes is essential for understanding the island’s geology and for assessing the risks that they pose to the local population. The Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias (Involcan) is a research institution that monitors volcanic activity on the island and provides valuable insights into the island’s geology. Involcan also partners with international organisations to conduct research and to develop monitoring techniques that can help to predict volcanic eruptions and mitigate their impact. Overall, the ongoing study of Tenerife’s volcanoes is essential for ensuring the safety of its residents and visitors, as well as for furthering our knowledge of the Earth’s dynamic geological processes.


Tenerife’s volcanic landscapes offer a glimpse into the island’s turbulent geological history and provide a striking backdrop for exploring its culture and ecosystems. From the towering peaks of Teide and Pico Viejo to the rugged cliffs of the Masca Valley, there’s something for every traveller who’s curious about the Earth’s natural wonders. We hope that this article has given you a taste of what Tenerife has to offer, and that it inspires you to pack your bags and head to this unique destination. Remember to always respect the environment and to follow safety guidelines when exploring Tenerife’s volcanic terrain. Enjoy the journey!

Looking to make a difference on your Tenerife trip? Join one of GVI’s marine conservation volunteer programs and contribute to protecting the island’s stunning marine life. From dolphins and whales to a variety of fish species, Tenerife boasts a rich and diverse ecosystem, making it an ideal location for conservation work. Work alongside experienced conservationists, learn new skills, and meet like-minded people from around the world. Plus, don’t miss the chance to hike Mount Teide, offering breathtaking views of the island and the Atlantic Ocean.

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