In addition to being a perfect winter holiday getaway destination, Tenerife is also a favourite location for many specialist holiday providers. This group of holiday packagers focus on niche market sectors and provide specialist holidays to cater for certain types of people or people with special interests. These holidays are often based around characteristics of the people themselves, perhaps their age or religious beliefs for example, but more normally they are created to cater for particular hobbies or the special areas of interest of those people.

Cookery holidays, walking holidays, photography holidays, birdwatching holidays and painting holidays are all examples of specialist holidays that now use Tenerife as their base. Holidays of this type are usually provided for smaller groups of people and feature either a guide or tutor as part of the package.

Birdwatching holidays are a popular type of specialist with English visitors to Tenerife. The island, likes others in the Canaries, provides opportunities to spot seabirds and native species that are not found in the UK. Endemic varieties include the Blue Chaffinch which is a common sight and the more elusive Bolle’s Pigeon and Laurel Pigeon. Another obvious native is the Tenerife Goldcrest which is non-migratory and so is only found on Tenerife and the nearby island of La Gomera.

Tenerife is famous for its warm winter climate and watersports enthusiasts can take advantage of this weather to extend their season. Ample accessible coastline and spectacular Atlantic surf make it a favourite destination for surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers.

Scuba diving is also a popular activity on Tenerife. There are several scuba training schools which take advantage of the underwater volcanic rock formations and the abundance of sealife. For around 500 euros, which covers tuition and accommodation, novices can undergo an intensive week long course leading to the PADI Open Water Scuba certificate. Comfortable average sea and air temperatures, which make diving a year-round sport in Tenerife, has led to several specialist Dive Schools setting up base on the island.

Warm weather training camps are the preserve of any serious athlete who finds their off season months spoilt by cold wet weather. Sportsmen from the UK and other northern european countries have long appreciated the warmer winter climate of the Canaries. Lanzarote is the first location that springs to mind when you think of athletes, triathletes and cyclists looking for early season training facilities, but Tenerife also has plenty to offer. Los Cristianos in the south of the island boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool for swim camps and a modern synthetic athletics track for both track and field athletes.

Tenerife also provides a fine winter base for cyclists, both amateur and professional alike. The resort was made famous recently by the visit of Lance Armstrong and his Astana team, who used the island as part of their preparations for the season ahead. Mountainous roads, pine forests and warm weather make Tenerife a perfect choice for cyclists looking to train in the months of December and January. The mountainous regions, high altitude routes and forests also make the island great for off-road cycling and several companies provide MTB ( Mountain Bike ) tours and holidays.

For the true adventurer one company is now providing the ultimate sporting challenge on Tenerife. The four day challenge involves travelling from sea level using a combination of canoeing, walking, mountain biking, rope descents, overnight camps in the company of experienced guides, culminating near the 3800m peak of Teide Volcano. Participants are limited in numbers and are expected to be both fit and flexible.

So you see Tenerife has a wealth of options and opportunities for the specialist holiday maker. Travel to the island is made easier by a wealth of low cost flight providers who fly to the island’s two airports on a year-round basis. Tenerife Airport South, or Reina Sofia, is the larger of the two airports and is the one most frequently used by flight providers. The other smaller airport is called Los Rodeos, is located in the north of the island and is used more as an inter-island hub.

Michael Baker