If you fancy a refreshing dip in the sea, the natural pools in the wild north coast of Tenerife are certainly a great alternative to the fine sandy beaches in the south. The ocean and volcanic activity have created a landscape of sharp, black rocks that are home to pools with crystal clear water and a colourful seabed.
In other words, the natural pools typical of the north of Tenerife are special places that will make you feel in paradise and connect completely with nature. Specifically, the coastline of the so-called Isla Baja – from Buenavista del Norte to Garachico – has a wide range of picturesque pools ideal for a dip in the sea.
These authentic bathing spots on the north coast of Tenerife are set in idyllic volcanic landscapes, unspoilt and far from mass tourism. For this reason, most of them can only be reached on foot.
Of course, we love them too and that is why in this article we would like to share our favourites with you.
How were the natural pools in the north of Tenerife formed?
Natural pool or “charco” is the name of a natural phenomenon very characteristic of Tenerife and the Canary Islands, which also occurs on other islands of volcanic origin. It is an area on the north coast designed by lava flowing into the sea. Once the incandescent lava came into contact with the cold water, it solidified and as a result formed pools surrounded by natural walls, where you can have a pleasant and completely safe seawater bath.
Most of these puddles are totally natural, while others have been partially modified to provide access and comfort for bathers. However, they have lost none of their natural charm. Some, for example, have metal steps and natural stone sunbathing areas.
The 5 most recommended natural pools on the north coast of Tenerife
To understand the geological significance of this extraordinary coastline from Buenavista del Norte to Garachico, you first need to know what an “Isla Baja” (translated: lower island) is and how it was built. Originally, there was a small platform on which the present-day volcano Montaña de Taco rose. Its lava flows spread out like a fan and produced the lower island.
However, today’s Isla Baja does not owe its formation exclusively to this volcano, but to other lava masses from higher altitudes in the Teno Rural Park. These enabled the area on the north coast to extend even further into the sea and set up what is now known as the fajana or plain.
By way, a most recent example of this natural phenomenon took place on 29 September 2021 in the northwest of the island of La Palma when the lava masses of the Tajogaite volcano poured into the sea and generated a new peninsula.
As a result, the north coast of Tenerife is dotted with ponds and authentic natural pools of lava and salt water that will surprise you. We list five of them that we have chosen for their beauty and which are very close to Tabaiba Guesthouse.
Charco Las Mujeres
On the coast of Buenavista del Norte, a path of barely a kilometre and a half connects the beaches of Las Arenas and El Fraile and passes by different ponds that appear when the tide rises and falls. Some, such as Charco Roque, are very popular with local people, especially in summer. The path has benches and viewpoints that look out over the Atlantic. There are also gaps between the rocks that invite you to climb down and take a plunge.
But it’s worth going further to Charco Las Mujeres, which even has some sand at the bottom and where you can swim your laps. You are also likely to find local fishermen in the neighbourhood. This natural swimming pool is also made for a family outing, as you can park your car a short distance away.
Around Las Arenas beach, the most famous and main beach of Buenavista del Norte, you will find other pools with easy access. One of them has a ramp from the beach to enter the water. In our article Trail in Buenavista del Norte you can also find out about many special features of this charming coastline in the northwest of Tenerife.
Location: Google Maps
Charco El Rayo
Close to the border with the municipality of Los Silos is the Charco del Faro de Buenavista. Because of its shape, it is a very outstanding puddle. Also known as Charco El Rayo, it is a wonderful location on the north coast of Tenerife due to the scenery it offers. It is also close to the Teno Rural Park, a hiking reserve that we highly recommend. The crystal-clear water of this immense natural pool will allow you to appreciate its rock formations even better. However, be careful when descending and entering the water, as there are many loose stones.
Although some locals claim that the basin arose by a lightning strike, it is more likely that erosion was responsible for sculpting this curious crater-like site. You can get there from Buenavista del Norte taking the white lighthouse some 400 metres away as a reference point. Note that this lighthouse is NOT the one at Punta de Teno (red and white one), where you will also find some natural pools. Check them out by reading our article Travelers’ Guide to Punta de Teno.
Thanks to its location, Charco El Rayo is the perfect place to switch off and relax, as it is not usually crowded. To have a good day’s swimming you should time your visit to coincide with the high tide hours. But be always careful with the waves and currents, particularly on days when the sea is very rough.
Location: Google Maps
Charco Los Chochos
This amazing spot is located in the municipality of Los Silos, four kilometres from Buenavista del Norte. It is one of the most beautiful pools on the north coast of Tenerife, not only because of the contrast between the blue of the sea and the black volcanic rock, but also because from here you can see the cliffs of La Culata and the Teide volcano on a clear day.
The natural pool has a maximum depth of two metres at its deepest point and its transparent water is quiet and without strong currents. There are also stairs with railings to get into the water comfortably and safely. On some occasions you may find the waters more choppy, mainly at high tide, when some small fish swim in. The pool is very easy to get to, as all you have to do is leave the historic centre of Los Silos behind you and take the road to El Puertito. Just a few metres away, the impressive original skeleton of a baleen whale (Baleanoptera borealis borealis) stands out.
As a curiosity, Charco Los Chochos owes its name to the fact that in this place the peasants used to soak lupins in salt water to remove the peculiar bitterness of this legume known in the Canary Islands as chocho.
Location: Google Maps
Charco Don Gabino
This enchanting puddle of volcanic rock and transparent water is located on the coast of Los Silos. Its name refers to Gabino Dorta, a well-known owner of banana plantations. You can reach this pool on foot, following the same trail that leads to Charco Los Chochos. Once there (there’s a sign), all you have to do is go down a few steps, unroll your towel and cool off in the waters of the Atlantic.
Charco Don Gabino is a natural pool about ten metres long and two metres deep at its deepest part. It has an area fitted out as a solarium and several entrances made of volcanic stone. Nevertheless, please avoid the part facing the sea, as the waves are usually very strong in this section.
For those who prefer to combine swimming with a two-hour walk, we suggest the coastal path from Buenavista del Norte to Los Silos. You first walk down to the lighthouse on an asphalted road between banana plantations and then continue to the right on a hiking trail that runs parallel to the coast. On the way, you pass several puddles and enjoy fantastic views of the Teno Mountains with the Teide volcano in the distance.
Location: Google Maps
In the fishing village of Garachico, about nine kilometres from Buenavista del Norte, the natural pools of El Caletón guarantee a bathing day with a breathtaking panorama. These large pools are a result of the eruption of the Trevejo volcano in 1706. Hot lava was shaped as it cooled with the force of the sea, creating these twisted forms, which became one of Tenerife’s most important tourist attractions.
The natural pools of Garachico fill and empty thanks to the tides and wave action. They are most striking during high tide. El Caletón is a family-friendly complex with numerous access ladders to the water and sun terraces. It also has lifeguards in summer, a bar-restaurant with a chill-out terrace on the lava itself, car parks, a public swimming pool, the nearby Muellito beach and countless renowned restaurants and shops at a short distance.
Location: Google Maps
Useful tips for visiting the natural swimming pools in the north of Tenerife
To make the most of your “charco experience” you should follow some important recommendations and warnings.
- Wear swimming or surf shoes for safe access to the pools – the stones are slippery!
- Some rocks have sea urchins on them, be careful if you have to lean on.
- Before jumping into the water immediately, check how deep the pool is – they are usually very shallow!
- Watch how the locals get in and out of the puddles.
- Never ignore the power of the ocean, be alert and, if the sea is too rough, don’t take any risks.
- Beware of high tides combined with swell: take extra precautions!
- Don’t forget good sun protection. There is neither shade at the pools nor the possibility to put up a sun umbrella.
- Bring your snorkelling equipment or diving glasses if you want to see the colourful world under water.
- Most of the pools are in zones without any facilities, so it is recommended to bring food and water.
- Take your rubbish home with you (including cigarette butts) and leave these unique spots clear.
Would you like to discover some of these natural pools? Have you already known one of them? We look forward to reading about your impressions and experiences.
See you soon … ¡Hasta pronto!
Karin and Sergio