The Tenerife Diaries: Snorkelling with Turtles in El Puertito

Snorkelling with turtles
Tenerife is often perceived as a place where people go to get drunk and lounge by busy pools for their entire stay. However, determined to unveil its true colours, we set out to explore. Only having 4 days was in fact a blessing, meaning that we made the most of every minute. Having seen just a bit of what the island has to offer, I would describe it as ‘a place of opportunity, with something for everyone’. Sun, sea, wildlife, trekking and fun- it’s all here on this mini-continent.

 Arriving in Tenerife

Our flight was early in the morning, and it took 4 hours to get to the island. On the way there, make sure that you enjoy the incredible views of the other islands. I loved figuring out which island was which, spotting La Palma and El Hierro in the distance, flying over La Gomera and finally seeing Tenerife come into view.

Views of Tenerife


The warm Canary weather greeted us on arrival, sparking the holiday buzz! We had chosen to base ourselves in Callao Salvaje for the duration of our stay. This is a beautiful little town, tucked away on the West Coast. It took a lot of research before deciding on this place. Callao Salvaje was said to be pretty, not too busy but with a good atmosphere- exactly what we were looking for!

The bus service in Tenerife (Titsa) is great. There are buses that go almost everywhere on the island, and it is so much cheaper than taxis. Even better, the website is really user-friendly, so you can plan all your routes before even landing on the island (check it out here).

Bus Station


To get from the airport to our hotel in Callao Salvaje, we got the 111 followed by the 473 bus to the town. It was easy to navigate, and the staff were extremely helpful when we were unsure. To make things even better, the journey was less than an hour, and cost a mere 10 euros each, in comparison to the 40-50 euro taxi fare.

Callao Salvaje

As mentioned, we were aware that Tenerife has a reputation for being touristy. Therefore, we didn’t have high expectations at all. Nonetheless, we were still hoping that Callao Salvaje wouldn’t disappoint too much. On arrival, we were stunned by how calm and peaceful the town was. The road down to the waterfront was dotted with little restaurants and shops, yet it still had a Spanish vibe. Much unlike some of the other areas I had read about (not mentioning any names!).

Views of Callao Salvaje


The hotel itself (Atlantic Holiday Centre) was in a great location- overlooking the sea and 2 minutes’ walk away from a black sand beach. Our ‘studio’ room was more of a mini apartment, and the balcony overlooking the pool and sea was perfect. Top this off with the pool-bar serving snacks and drinks and we were more than content.

Atlantic Holiday Centre Poolside

El Puertito

We had been unlucky in our attempt to try snorkelling with turtles in Zakynthos, so were desperate to be successful this time. Therefore, we decided not to waste any time and to go straight out! About 15 minutes’ drive from Callao Salvaje is a small harbour: El Puertito.

El Puertito


In this cove are 3 resident turtles, which swim happily with the locals. As we were still getting our bearings, we contacted Xplore Tenerife as they offer an excursion snorkelling with turtles, which includes transfers and snorkelling gear. However, this is something that you can do yourself if you are a confident swimmer and have a hire car. We donned wetsuits (the Atlantic sea is not all that warm!), snorkels and flippers and set off.

Snorkelling with Turtles

The sea was a little rough at the shore, with a strong undercurrent thanks to the rocky floor. However, once past the initial waves, we got used to the swell of the sea. We swam out about 100 metres (a few minutes) towards the small boats, desperately searching the clear blue water. Eventually, a huge brown shell glided elegantly past me.

Green Turtle
Photo credit: Xplore Tenerife

I was so excited I had to come up for air and let the others know what I had seen. For the next half an hour or so, 2 more joined, swimming confidently around us. We kept our distance and they always came to us.

Snorkelling with Turtles
A little blurry, but this is me snorkelling with one of the turtles! Photo credit: Xplore Tenerife
Photo credit: Xplore Tenerife

Cherishing the moments, but not wanting to risk distressing the turtles, we eventually moved over to the rocky edges of the harbour. Here, colourful fish of all sizes danced in the tide. With the current getting stronger and our arms and legs tired, we reluctantly made our way back to the shore. Chatting to the team, we discovered that the oldest turtle was around 12 years, according to a marine biologist. It’s also likely the green turtles had originally come from the Caribbean, but had decided to stay. I, for one, am so glad they did!

Sunset Views

The team kindly drove us back to our hotel and we had a blissful evening watching the sunset with La Gomera in the distance. At first, we couldn’t decide whether it was simply a cloud but when, hours (then days) later, the ‘cloud’ hadn’t shifted, we knew it was in fact the neighbouring island! Excitedly chatting about the amazing afternoon we’d had, we just couldn’t wait for the next adventure on this beautiful island!

Sunset over La Gomera


My Top Tips:

  1. If, like us, you don’t have snorkelling gear, go with Xplore Tenerife. It only cost us £20 each, including transfers directly to our hotel. They also gave us lots of information about the turtles and the area.
  2. Be patient and respect the turtles. Wait for them to come to you. If you chase them in any way, this could make them feel threatened. They may even stay on the sea floor rather than coming up for necessary air. It’s just not worth it!
  3. Never try to touch the turtles. Although they wouldn’t purposefully attack, if they feel threatened or startled they may nip. Again- just not worth it!
  4. The people at Xplore Tenerife take photos and share them on Facebook. This was really lucky for us as our waterproof camera broke! It’s also nice as it gives you the chance to just enjoy the experience.
  5. If going by yourself rather than on the excursion, consider taking a t-shirt and shorts to swim in. As mentioned, the water was quite cold. I’m not sure I would have been able to stay in there for so long if I didn’t have the wetsuit on!
  6. Xplore Tenerife also cater for less confident swimmers, providing life jackets if required.

UPDATE: unfortunately, Diana from Xplore Tenerife has explained that, as of recently, the turtles are no longer in the bay. This means that it is now rare to see them while snorkelling. However, still do check out Xplore Tenerife as they offer other exciting activities, including canyoning and kayaking with dolphins!

Have you ever been snorkelling with turtles? Do you have any questions about this post? Please leave a comment below and I will reply!


Emilie x

For more of my travel diaries, check out my homepage !

4 thoughts on “The Tenerife Diaries: Snorkelling with Turtles in El Puertito

  1. I think this is one of the (in Germany) top advertised places to travel to… I always thought too that this would be one of those bad party places for Europeans. Never been there, and never planned to do this, but you make it sound interesting.

    One of my friends has a sister on another island… well you know Majorca. He said “The trick is, go away from the tourist hotspots, then you find the beauty of the island” and mentioned that his sister would live in the middle and away from the party hotspots.

    1. Thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it! I will be adding a few more posts on Tenerife soon, as we also went searching for pilot whales and climbed the volcano while there. It really is a beautiful place away from the tourist strip. I totally agree with your friend and his sister- every island has places away from the main tourist hotspots, and those are where the island’s true paradise shows!

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