Isle of Tenerife

Holiday in San Marcos

Playa San Marcos, where ships were built for the Spanish Armada

The fishing village of San Marcos, 12 miles north of Puerto de la Cruz, is set in a small, sheltered bay with a black sand beach.

The beach is one of the safest along the north west coastline and consequently is a favourite haunt for islander families at fiesta times and at weekends.

It takes its name from the image of St Mark the Evangelist venerated in the parish church of Icod de los Vinos, which bears his name.

This is the same image which appeared in a cave near the seashore during the conquest of the island. Several historians have told of its strange and mysterious discovery.

The safety provided by the harbour, protecting against winds from all directions, is aided by the high cliffs behind the village. The combination affords good anchorage and a safe beach.

Ever since the conquest of Tenerife was completed navigators have chosen the bay of San Marcos as a safe refuge from the occasional storms that strike the island. The rich pine woods that once populated the hills above Icod in much greater abundance than they do today led to San Marcos becoming an important shipbuilding centre soon after the Spanish conquest and numerous galleons and frigates were constructed for the kings of Spain.

Don Luis de la Cueva y Benavides, the then Governor-General of the Canary Islands and President of their Royal Audiencia, chose San Marcos to build the frigates he contributed to the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The area around San Marcos and Icod is riddled with caves that are important archaeological sites, such as Las Cuevas de los Guanches, caves where the original Guanche inhabitants of the island are thought to have lived at various times of the year, and Las Cuevas de Don Gaspar at Boquín, which are thought to have been more permanently occupied by the Guanches.
La Cueva del Viento at Bocas del Sobrado is believed to be the world's largest volcanic tube and has been measured at 14,870 metres in length.

These cave complexes are to be found along a footpath that runs from San Marcos up through Icod and on to the recreational area of Arenas Negras.

The entire walk is 20km and probably takes around seven hours to complete. Sections of the walk are quite demanding and should only be tackled by experienced walkers.