Garachico has an interesting history. Maps from the Middle Ages demonstrate how the coast of the Isla Baja was shaped. At one point, the sea breaks onto the land. It looks like a small deep bay - a natural harbour. At this point, Garachico was founded in 1496 by a Genoese Italian merchant.
The fertile land of the region and the climate was ideal for growing grapes and sugar cane. Sugar and the noble wine of the Malvasía grapes were then Garachico's trade-products, England, Flanders, Holland and North America its trading partners, who in turn brought their goods from all over the world: tools, spices, fabrics, gold from India,... to Garachico and to the other ports of the Canary Islands, such as Puerto de la Cruz, Santa Cruz and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
So Garachico develops in the 16th and 17th Century into the largest trading port in Tenerife and gains an economic importance. The churches were richly adorned with altars, sculptures and paintings by the most renowned artists.
Garachico also brought particularly good shipbuilders. You can imagine, when you see the excellent carpentry and architectural work of the many magnificent houses of the rich merchants of this time. From this golden age we also have four monasteries, the first and then the only hospital in the region and the Castillo de San Miguel, built in 1575 for protection against pirates and for detection of commercial ships.
But the prosperity ends abruptly in 1706, when the volcano de Tevejo erupts and the lava ends up flowing slowly through the streets of Garachico and into the port. Although many houses could be saved, the livelihoods of the inhabitants was diminished, and Garachico lost its economic meaning.
Santa Cruz is now the most important port, in Garachico it's hard to survive. Many families leave their homes to Montevideo (Uruguay), St. Bernard (Louisiana) or San Antonio (Texas) to settle down and centuries later to seek their fortune in Venezuela. Until the 1960s, about 2000 Canary Islanders abandon their islands. Many people died from plague and Cholera or because the frequent volcanic eruptions. (most recently in 1909 the eruption of the Volcano Chiniyero). burn down there fields and forests, whoever didn't emigrate suffered hunger and had to rebuilt again and again.
As the Los Rodeos airport in La Laguna was opened in 1941, it became easier for the travellers to come here. In Puerto de la Cruz a tuberculosis sanatorium was built which attracted many Europeans. Today, tourism is the largest employer of the islands, especially in their south-sides.
The municipality of Garachico lies in the northwest of the island and covers an area of 29.28 sq.km, from the sea up to the foot of Mount Teide.
Along the coast, La Caleta de Interián in the west and El Guincho in east, belong to Garachico, and in the direction south the villages San Pedro de Daute, Las Cruces, Genovés, San Juan de Reparo, La Montañeta and the nature reserve of Las Arenas.
All of his area is very lovely to visit, but I want to concentrate in the description of the antique part of Garachico, which gives shelter to the casa canarina and the casa marina.
The little town with see-breeze is not too crowded, most tourists come during the day only for a few hours here and then carry on in the course of their island visits.
The casa canarina and the casa marina are located in one of the oldest streets, the Calle Santa Ana. The dead end cobbled street doesn't have much traffic, because it is too narrow for parking and therefore only frequented for loading and unloading of luggages or shopping. It begins at a park, where the old port gate still stands at its original location, and also the great wine press, which was used by all the wineries around
and it ends at the small black sandy beach. I would like to define the word: sand ... the sand is sometimes finer (in summer), or sometimes bigger (in winter). The individual grains of the sand are often pebbles, rounded by the sea, so sometimes not a very cozy lying area, but the beach holds a nice family atmosphere, if you are not the only one. The water of the Atlantic is still wonderfully pure and by snorkelling you can see the beautiful underwater world with many different species of fishes.
In this bay a seawall was built to protect it, so that you can swim here almost all year round, high tide or low tide, and the fishermen were able to entrust their boats to a quiet harbour. Now that the new marina was completed, the fishing port was relocated there.
Below the Castillo de San Miguel lies the romantic bathing area 'El Caletón', which can be partially seen from the roof terrace. These natural pools were formed by the volcanic eruption, 300 years ago, by two lava rivers that flue into the open sea. In the middle of the last century this area was smartened up, with lots of sunbathing areas and paths to be more accessible and convenient. In summer you may enjoy watching the little waves lapping at high tide into the pools and in the winter you can often swim only when the sea is calm. A few times a year you can't even go for a walk on the coast. When surf is heard across the Atlantic, when huge waves are splashing over the 'Caletón', then the coast road is closed and the windows and doors of the houses, which are situated on the waterfront are covered with planks, because the waves threaten to invade the town, just as it happened in November 1989 and in January 2010 and 2019.
There are all kinds of activities possible: Apart from the natural pools, there is a tiled swimming pool, a tennis court and a football field. You have the possibility to rent a boat and with some luck to see dolphins and whales. There are guided diving or kayak- trips, paragliding with experts, mountain bikes to rent, etc. Look at the list of links as you will find all sorts of recommendations ....
The old town of Garachico is located along the coast. On the promenade and its parallel streets there are many really good restaurants, nice bars and cafes, an ice cream parlour, many small food stores that offer local fruits and vegetables, a butcher, a fish shop, a cigar-shop, where you can watch the cigars being handmade, several souvenir and craft shops, several beautiful potteries, a post office, two chemists, two medical centers, a hardware store, several banks ... so you also can get along wonderfully without a rental car.
The town has two churches, two chapels and four monasteries, one of which still functions as such, the Monastery of the Conceptionistas. The Augustinian Monastery has become a gallery, and the other two can be visited and are already worth seeing for their impressive architecture. In the Ex-Convent de Santo Domingo you can find contemporary art and occasional concerts. The converted Franciscan Monastery and also the House of the Counts of La Gomera, both located at the main square of Garachico 'Glorieta de San Francisco', represent the cultural center of town. Here you can see permanent collections of Garachico's history, traditions and customs of the inhabitants, changing exhibitions of arts and crafts, theater, movies or concerts. Both churches, located in the same place, with their beautiful wooden roofs, antique chandeliers, altars. are visited frequently by the faithful. The fortress is today a small museum of natural history.
Everywhere they celebrate a lot, on any occasion. Usually the Canary Islanders make their music with drums, they sing and play the guitar and the 'timple'. Musically, the festivals are more related to South America than with Spain. The homemade music reminiscent of Cuban and Mexican sounds and for larger celebrations the orchestras play dance salsa or merengue.
The fiestas here have their rituals, and many processions. The processions leave from the churches and chapels, which are all over Garachico. They often walk through the Perez Zamora street, which you can look down on from the roof terrace, for example, at Easter or at Christmas. In Garachico the main traditional celebrations are in honour of the Patron Saint of Garachico- Santa Ana or San Roque, or the Virgin del Carmen and the Three Wise-men. After every mass, the processions leave from the churches and chapels and walk through the old town. Back at the church or chapel, the faithful return to the decorated place and they find an environment of music and fireworks to celebrate and dance.
The most splendid festivals of Garachico are celebrated in August: The harvest festival (Romería) is as well a procession. Many pilgrims walk a long way to Garachico, to be there. The statue of San Roque, after a Mass, is than brought to his chapel in a procession to the end of town, where the street party has already started. Here are already the beautiful gentle oxen shown and awarded with prizes. At another place the local people, all wearing traditional costumes, are decorating their bullock carts and filling them with baked and grilled delicacies. Finally, the oxen are put in front of the carts and go through the streets behind San Roquito and give out their grilled meat, fruit, cake, wine, whatever has brought forth this year, to those who follow the procession. Many homes are open today, to offer a good meal and wine to their friends, the many folk music groups raise the spirits yet. In the evening, arriving back to the Plaza de San Roque there is music and dancing until morning. The Baile de Magos (the Farmers' Ball), on another night, in the Plaza "La Glorieta" means also dancing all night long. Foam parties take place in the 'Caletón'. There is open-air cinema, free food in the Plaza, fireworks, and so August is a continuous fiesta.
The three Wise-men and crismas celebation, which takes place on the eve of the 6th of jamuary, is also very impressive, mostly for the children. Here come the Saints, this time not sulptures but real men of Garachico, dressed as Kings, riding on camels, from the mountains down into the decorated town, to sit on there thrones and to give out their presents to the children.
Tenerife's carnival is celebrated mainly in Puerto de la Cruz aud santa Cruz. The Garachiquense only celebrate " the funeral od San Susino". Men and wimen, all dressed up as his widows, follow the straw man, which is finaly burned on the fire.
At San Juan, on 21 June, on all the beaches, as well as here, bonfires are made for burning all the old, so that the new can commence. Everybody has midnight-swim, so the summer can come and you make sure that it will be a good time with love and joy.
On 22 July we celebrate a maritime fiesta of the Patron Saint of the fishermen, la Virgin del Carmen. She is brought in a procession to the beach and put onto a little boat. With her the fishermen, and anyone who has a watercraft, sail along the coast of Garachico, La Caleta and El Guíncho. At each beach, she is received by swimmers, and hours later, followed by her escort, brought to shore. At night, after the fireworks, re-embedded in a procession, she is brought back into the church again.
Every 5 years, the volcanic eruption of 1706 is reproduced with fire wheels that roll down the mountain onto the little sandy beach, near the cottages. Once in the sea, you can see fireworks exploding from the water. The next time the show will take place is in July 2020.
You will find more information and the last news of Garachico
in the page of Garachico's town hall: http://www.garachico.es .