Los Gigantes is famous for its cliffs

The marina in Los Gigantes

The cliffs and marina of Los Gigantes
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

More to Los Gigantes than just its massive cliffs

Los Gigantes is a very popular resort village on the south-west coast of Tenerife and it is famous for and named after its "giant" cliffs. Of course, most people come to see the cliffs towering some 600m high above the bay and, indeed, they are a majestic sight, but there's a lot more to the place besides these rocky attractions.

I like to see what flora and fauna I can find, and the one thing that strikes me about Los Gigantes is the incredible amount of cacti planted there. I honestly think it has the best displays of these strange spiny tropical plants in the whole island of Tenerife.

An example of a Barrel Cactus
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Barrel Cactus

There are massive barrel cacti, towering cereus species and euphorbias, which aren't really a type of cactus but certainly look like one! Everywhere there are beds and borders full of cacti. In most towns and villages flowers and shrubs and trees get planted for ornamental display purposes but in Los Gigantes cacti are the firm favourites - giant cacti for a resort with giant cliffs!

There are plenty of flowers too and I soon spotted a wonderful display of the Mile A Minute Vine, or Messina Creeper (Ipomoea cairica), which as its popular name suggests likes to cover a lot of distance and grows very rapidly. In Los Gigantes it grows by the bus terminus all along a fence and right up a lamppost, which it shrouds in green and its pretty violet-purple funnel-shaped blooms.

The Messina Creeper is in the Morning Glory family and has yet another alternative name - Ivy-leaved Morning Glory. It is aptly named because in full bloom it is certainly a glory to behold!

Cacti in Los Gigantes
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

Green Corner

A popular bar

Los Gigantes, although a popular tourist resort, has managed to stay relatively unspoilt and has an easygoing and healthy feel about it - there are beautiful gardens with tall palms and grassy lawns, and even the name of a local bar called Green Corner, seems aptly named.

Creeper covered lamp-post

Old Dogs New Tricks

Speaking of bars, Los Gigantes is home to some well-known venues for music and entertainment, with TJ's being one of the more famous and the venue where my friends Old Dogs New Tricks often play. There wasn't much going on there when I arrived though seeing as it was only mid-morning and I decided to have a wander about the streets and harbour.

I popped in the Oasis centre where there is a restaurant, and Internet café, a bowling green and a swimming pool. La Gomera could be viewed across the sunny sparkling sea and the lawns and borders were all looking lush and green, but no animal life so far anywhere apart from a solitary white butterfly. The flora in Los Gigantes was doing well but what about the fauna, I was thinking?

I carried on my way and was pleased to see some more signs of life so I stopped to watch two Thread-waisted Wasps (Ammophila tydei) that were searching the undersides of a shrub with large leaves. These strange spindly-looking flying insects catch caterpillars, which they sting and paralyse and take back to feed their own larvae, but the ones I was watching were unlucky. There were no signs of any caterpillars at all and I left them to their search, while I continued mine.

Boats in the Los Gigantes harbour
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews

The Harbour

I made my way down to the harbour where all the boats are, and what a selection of boats there were, all moored in rows and bobbing gently on the sparkling water. There were dinghies and schooners and yachts, catamarans and sloops - well, I assume there were because I don't really know one type from another although I do know plenty of boat type names and there were plenty to choose from!

There were boat trips to go whale and dolphin watching and a cruise past the cliffs to Masca bay and back. I made a mental note that I will have to return one day and go on one of these seafaring excursions and when I do I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

I walked along the front and watched the shoals of silvery-grey Mullet fish swimming lazily around. People in Los Gigantes throw scraps to them and they know they are on to a good thing here, and if they wait long enough someone is sure to feed them.

They remind me of pigeons in this aspect, and I was thinking that they are like flightless underwater pigeons that scavenge on bread and other food that humans give them. I like to watch them though, and it was a shame I didn't have anything I could give them.

The sea air and watching the greedy fish gave me an appetite so I went to find a café to have some breakfast. But that's what I love about Los Gigantes - it's not the cliffs that fascinate me, rather it's the Sand Wasps, it's the huge barrel cacti and its shoals of fish in the marina that make the place for me!

Footnote: First published in the Tenerife Sun

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Grey Mullet

A shoal of Grey Mullet fish
Credit: Photo by Steve Andrews