The Las Canadas crater is 17 kilometres wide and was created around 3.5 million years ago. It is a truly stunning place, very beautiful in a weird, out-of-this world kind of way and the absolute must-see place on Tenerife. We were so fascinated by this area and amazed by its beauty so much, we actually came back twice during our visit to explore further.
Mount Teide itself was only formed, they believe, during medieval times, so the crater is much older. It is a national park and so is preserved, apparently in the past they used to mine the volcanic rock and people used it to build houses and roads, but this no longer happens.
There are stopping places everywhere in the crater where you can explore, read the information boards and just take in this amazing and unusual landscape.
Look out for the Izana Observatory. All you can see are little white domes on the horizon which seem to appear very suddenly as you drive along the road. It actually feels like a science fiction movie - these white domes surrounded by the lunar landscape which appear out of nowhere.
The Observatory has a visitors centre, but it is only open for organised school trips. Astronomers from Spain, France, Germany and Italy work here and study the skies. Apparently the clarity of the skies here is exceptional - matched only by Chile and Hawaii. There have been astonomers studying here since the mid 19th century. They tracked Halley's Comet from the Izana Observatory in 1910.
Further on into the crater, the scenery seems to change and redefine itself all the time. It really wows you everywhere you look - I had never experienced a place like this before in my travels. Arenas Blancas is a good place to stop. You can get out of the car, climb the dunes and look out over the fields of black obsidian. We, like other tourists, lifted huge pumice rocks high into the air effortlessly - just as if we were in Star Wars! This is a great fun thing to do - our son let his imagination run wild!
The crater is an amazing place, full of weird rock formations, glittering obsidian, strange and unusual plants and so much more. You can get out and explore, walk around and just take in this very special and fabulous place - do not miss it if you visit Tenerife.