What Bajamar lacks in a picturesque old quarter or charming architecture, it makes up for in the richness of its natural assets; a splendid coast frayed with natural rock pools, spectacular views inland towards the Anaga Mountains and south westerly over the sweeping valleys of La Laguna and La Orotava with Mount Teide, resplendent in its mantle of snow, dominating the skyline and the best weather in the north of the island.
A popular weekend getaway for the residents of La Laguna, Bajamar is beginning to combat its1960s image of high rise concrete blocks and replace it with a softer, more health conscious one where facilities are geared towards time spent in the great outdoors with a campsite, sports facilities and wide coastal promenades for walkers and joggers. Recent developments include an idyllic swimming environment, an expanse of sunbathing terraces and enough seating for the entire population of the town to take a rest at the same time.
Bajamar’s smaller, sister resort of Punta de Hidalgo, which circles the north west tip of the island, looks out over layer upon layer of towering megalithic crags that guard the headland like sentries to Middle Earth. This is the starting point for a myriad of walks into the Anaga Mountains offering some of the finest views in Tenerife.
Unlike the 7 million year old Anaga Mountains in which the town sits, development in Bajamar didn’t begin until the twentieth century; before then it was a small farming and fishing community with just 135 inhabitants, mainly settled around the Ermita del Gran Poder at the coast and at the mouth of the Barranco San Juan.
Bajamar first became known as a tourist destination in the 1930s when the population of the municipality’s capital, La Laguna, adopted it as their summer bathing spot. The area responded by constructing sea water pools to protect bathers from the force of the Atlantic, an astute move which has held Bajamar in good stead ever since.
At the end of the 1950s, the growth of the domestic tourism market saw a surge in the construction of hotels and apartments to meet the growing demand for beds but a tourism crisis in 1973 halted development of the area and the three most important hotels went out of business. When the crisis abated, short term tourism had all but disappeared and many of the town’s population moved to the service industry in La Laguna leaving mainly long term visitors and retired residents.
What to See
Bajamar’s natural rock pools are a magnet for sun worshippers, swimmers and fishermen. Three elegant, capacious pools occupy the promontory; the first is open to the sea in one corner allowing a natural tide to lap onto the gently shelving golden sand beach that forms the mouth of the pool. Two further pools are entirely enclosed, save for the crashing waves of the Atlantic that break against the outer wall sending in naturally cleansing fresh sea water. Swimming here is an optical illusion; the horizon of the Atlantic blends imperceptibly with the pools yet the giant rollers that pound the ear are tamed to a mere ripple as they enter the water; like swimming in a bubble of dead calm in the midst of a storm.
Along the wide sun terraces, the ‘chilled’ bodies of La Laguna weekenders lie prone in the sun. Above the pools, large aluminium sun shelters give dappled shade to the viewing benches below while another level up, the small paved plaza of Bajamar affords yet more places to sit and watch the cinematic quality of the sunsets that are a feature here.
The wide, sweeping road that joins Bajamar to Punta de Hidalgo passes the, now sadly headless, monument to the musical ensemble Los Sabandeños before reaching the resort. A left turn takes you to the coast where an assortment of hotels, apartment complexes and restaurants line the front. The coastal path takes you easterly to the unusually designed lighthouse that wouldn’t look out of place against a Manhattan skyline. Westerly, the path runs the entire length of the resort, past natural rock pools and black sand beaches to the quaint harbour and boatyard where you expect to hear the fishermen speak with a Cornish accent.
The main road continues through the resort, past the folly which is a replica of La Gomera’s Conde del Torre, to the viewpoint of San Mateo where the twin peaks of El Roque de los Dos Hermanos tower above the barranco and where a short walk to the end of the road rewards you with breathtaking views of the Anaga cliffs.
What to do
Get to the point
The three hour trek from the visitor’s centre at Cruz del Carmen to Punta de Hidalgo is one of the most spectacular hikes on the island. The path winds through ancient laurel forests, quaint terraces and the fascinating troglodyte community of Chinamada, where around thirty residents still live in houses built into caves, before descending through dramatic ravines to the coast; magnificent vistas will keep your mind off the return trip.
Surf & turf
Whilst Bajamar’s sea pools offer a leisurely bathing experience, for those who prefer the challenge of battling Atlantic rollers, nearby Playa del Arenal is part of the Canarian ‘surf and body boarding’ circuit. On the other hand, if any of the family prefers their boards with wheels, the specially designed park, near the campsite, is a skateboarder’s dream.
Not all activities require effort; the only thing that’ll bring on a sweat at the Océano Mayr Centre is when hot stones are placed on your body’s energy points during ‘Lastone therapy’. With a bewildering range of cosmetic and therapeutic treatments including Cleopatra baths and massages using special Sri Lankan oils, the hardest task is deciding which to choose. ‘Relax on the Atlantic’ and ‘Well being week’ are two packages which include many of the treatments available.
(+34) 922 156 000; Océano Aparthotel; treatments from €24, ‘Relax on the Atlantic’ costs €388, ‘Well being week’ costs €318
A night under the stars
A perfect way to soak up the area’s natural beauty is to spend a night under canvas at the campsite situated a few metres from the shore. Prior reservations are necessary and, as the council is in the process of seeking new management to run the site, availability is a tad unpredictable at the moment.
(+34) 629 139 203; €2.10 per tent, €2.10 per adult, caravans €3.00; reception open 09.00-14.00 & 16.00-22.00
Tucked away at the side of the Hotel Delfín in Bajamar, this small Artesanía is well worth a visit; original sculptures, paintings and photographic prints complement a stylish collection of jewellery and souvenirs.
(+34) 922 545 511; Avenida El Sol, local 39, Bajamar; open 10.00-13.00, 17.00-20.00 Tuesday to Saturday, 17.00-20.00 Friday, closed Sunday and Monday
Where to Stay
It’s fair to say accommodation is not this town’s strong point; hotels and apartments have yet to make the transition to the style and facilities today’s consumers demand. Having said that, there’s one notable exception:
Describing themselves as “a health centre devoted to well being”, the Océano sits on the sea front in Punta de Hidalgo. Flawless lawns and perfectly behaved gardens surround an elegant sea water swimming pool where, should just reading the menu of the extensive range of sports, health and spa treatments prove too exhausting for you, you can spend the day soaking up the rays in harmonious reflection.
(+34) 922 156 000; Punta de Hidalgo; www.oceano.de; apartments from €50 per night; minimum stay 2 nights
Proximity to the Bajamar swimming pools and town centre offer some solace for the style and décor.
(+34) 922 540 200; Avenida El Sol, 39, Bajamar; double rooms from €50 per night
Where to Eat
Cofradía de Pescadores
If you have a yearning for fish or seafood, Cofradía de Pescadores (fishermen’s guilds) restaurants are always reliable choices. This one comes with the added bonus of being situated so close to the picturesque harbour that fish could leap straight from the multi-coloured fishing boats into the pan.
(+34) 922 156 954; average cost of a ration €4.50; open midday-23.00 daily
The name El Abogado (the lawyer) comes from the moniker given by local wags to the loquacious owner. Generally regarded as one of the best restaurants in the area; ignore the uninspiring frontage and venture inside to the warm, welcoming interior for an authentic Canarian eating experience and some fabulous local cuisine.
(+34) 922 156 066; Carretera General, 35, La Hoya; average cost of a main course €7.50; open midday-17.00 & 19.30-23.00, closed Wednesday
Overlooking Bajamar’s seafront, this pleasant little restaurant has an imaginative range of choices on its Mediterranean inspired menu. From fish croquettes to pasta, everything is homemade; with vegetarian options as well as meat and fish choices, it caters for all tastes.
(+34) 922 540 958; Avenida Las Piscinas; average cost of a main course €7; open 13.00-16.15 & 19.00-22.45, closed Monday & Tuesday
Charco de la Arena
Walk beyond the lighthouse to find this restaurant whose terrace juts out over natural rock pools. A traditional menu includes old favourites like the hearty stew, Pucheros Canario. Entertainment is provided by a couple of gulls who perform at the owner’s bidding, motivated by the chance of some fishy morsels.
(+34) 922 156 834; Camino de la Costa; average cost of a main course €7; open 11.00-18.00, closed Monday
With regular dances and occasional operatic performances, Centro Ciudadano, at the end of Paisaje Los Huaracheros, provides much of the area’s evening entertainment. Its bar is home to the town’s domino-playing population, where matches are played with such zest that barman, Antonio Perdomo has designed a table to keep drinks safe no matter how animated games become.
From Puerto de la Cruz, catch the 102 to Santa Cruz, changing in La Laguna to the 105 to Punta de Hidalgo which operates every half hour between 05.15 and 20.55.
From Las Americas and Los Cristianos catch the 110 or 111 service to Santa Cruz, departing half hourly between 06.15 and 20.45, then transfer to the 105 (see above).
The Taxi rank in Bajamar is opposite the Chapel of the Gran Poder de Dios. The local number is 922 540 485. The number for Punta de Hidalgo is 922 540 096
The nearest office is in Plaza del Adelantado, La Laguna (open 08.00-20.00 Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday). The best place for information about walking trails in the area is the Cruz del Carmen visitors centre (open 09.30-16.00 daily)
There is parking adjacent to the coastal road in Punta Hidalgo. In Bajamar there are spaces beside the promenade.
Bajamar holds a small carnaval each February, whilst Punta de Hidalgo celebrates el Santísimo Cristo in September. Other events to look out for are the surfing and bodyboarding competitions, which take place between November and February, and the multi-adventure sporting weekend in September which features mountain biking, orienteering, trekking and kayaking.