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Chinamada cave houses of Tenerife and walking to Punta del Hidalgo

Where is Chinamada?

You have probably never heard of Chinamada and may well be wondering where it is and what is so special about it. Chinamada is a very tiny hamlet in the north of Tenerife in the Anaga mountain range.

Chinamada is famous for having a 'troglodyte community' living in around 30 surviving cave houses. It all sounds rather primitive, and you may well wonder why people are choosing to live this way but in actuality it is a lot more civilised than you might expect. The people who live in Chinamada may well be in a remote area but they are taking advantage of modern ways of living.

Las Carboneras

Las Carboneras village. Photo by Steve Andrews

Las Carboneras village. Photo by Steve Andrews

Cave house

Cave house near Chinamada. Photo by Steve Andrews

Cave house near Chinamada. Photo by Steve Andrews

Las Carboneras to Chinamada

Las Carboneras is a small hamlet high in the mountains and laurel forests in the Anaga range of Tenerife's north but accessible by bus or car. It is where you can walk or drive to Chinamada from and makes a wonderful place to visit in its own right. Las Carboneras is surrounded by woodlands and valleys and rugged peaks that include the picturesque Roque Taborno in a nearby village.

Taborno's distinctive ""Roque" towers high above the surrounding craggy ravines, moutainsides and forested slopes. It forms a very noticeable natural landmark for the area.

Las Carboneras has a church, a square, a school, a bar restaurant and offers some great views over the surrounding countryside. A signpost will tell you that it is just 2.4 km to Chinamada.

If you fancy a meal and a drink before you go on any further there is the excellent Tesegre restaurant and bar. You can get a good meal for two people and still have change from 13€. This restaurant is open every day of the week.

It is an easy walk or drive to Chinamada from Las Carboneras and on the way you pass one of the cave dwellings in the area, which is number 31 and set into a cliff face overlooking the road. It is a taste of things to come!

Chinamada cave house

Cave house in Chinamada. Photo by Steve Andrews

Cave house in Chinamada. Photo by Steve Andrews

La Cueva restaurant

Chinamada's La Cueva bar and restaurant. Photo by Steve Andrews

Chinamada's La Cueva bar and restaurant. Photo by Steve Andrews

Dragon Tree

Chinamada Dragon Tree. Photo by Steve Andrews

Chinamada Dragon Tree. Photo by Steve Andrews


From descriptions on the Internet and elsewhere Chinamada may sound like a remote and quite primitive place where people live in caves, cut off from the outside world, and living by subsistence farming in the high mountains. The reality is very different with a road going all the way to the hamlet.

Yes, the residents do live in caves that have been converted into houses but they all have electricity, street lighting outside and rubbish collection bins. There are satellite TV dishes, there are well tended gardens, driveways, metalwork gates and everything else you would expect of modern but rural houses.

As for the tiny village itself, Chinamada has a very recently-built-looking square with a tiny church, and, past the houses, there is even a bar restaurant for locals and visitors. This eating place is aptly named La Cueva, which in Spanish means "The Cave."

So although Chinamada is a very remote mountain hamlet and the people who live there really do live in caves, it has all been brought very much into the modern world. Chinamada is very much connected with the outside world of Tenerife today and is easy enough to get to. It is well worth visiting because it is very unique and nothing like the traditional images of Tenerife's tourist resorts and beaches.

Chinamada also has a very fine and quite large example of a Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco ) which overlooks the road. This may well be one of the surviving wild Dragon Trees that still grow in some locations in the Anaga mountain range and coastline of the extreme north of Tenerife. Its trunk and roots twist their way at the base as they cling into the rocky bank the tree is growing in.

The road into Chinamada ends there but a footpath continues for 4.4km and is clearly signposted to Punta del Hidalgo which is a remote seaside village on the Tenerife northern coast right next to Bajamar, a resort popular because of its natural swimming pools. The pathway skirts a steep ravine, goes along the top of some cliffs and finally descends down into its destination. It is there that we are going next on our journey.

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Hiking in Tenerife - A Walk to Chinamada

Footpath to Punta del Hidalgo

Path to Punta del Hidalgo and its Dos Hermanos rocks. Photo by Steve Andrews

Path to Punta del Hidalgo and its Dos Hermanos rocks. Photo by Steve Andrews

View over Punta del Hidalgo

Looking down on Punta del Hidalgo. Photo by Steve Andrews

Looking down on Punta del Hidalgo. Photo by Steve Andrews

Chinamada to Punta del Hidalgo

The path to Punta del Hidalgo is well worth taking and is mainly a descent down to the sea level far below. It is an easy enough footpath for anyone who is reasonably fit and takes around three hours to complete.

Along the way you will have some splendid views over the ravine and the mountains and on the other side of the pathway you will reach the cliffs that overlook the sea. There is a "mirador" viewing point with a wooden bench for anyone who feels tempted to take a break there and spend some time looking out over the ocean waves.

Botanists and anyone who is interested in nature should keep an eye out along the route for endemic wild flowers that grow in this area. There are a few species of Viper's Bugloss, or Tajinaste as they are known in Spanish. The very rare Echium simplex with its tall white flowering spikes is one of these. This area above Punta del Hidalgo is one of the only places it is still found in the wild.

There are some rocky overhangs and caves too that you will pass. The twin peaks of the Dos Hermanos rock formations are a landmark in the distance that shows where Punta del Hidalgo is. The name translates as "Two Brothers" and they overlook the beach at Punta del Hidalgo and the road where your journey ends and a regular bus service can take you back to La Laguna.

The whole trek from Las Carboneras to Punta del Hidalgo is a highly recommended walk and is mostly on the flat or going downhill. Those who feel more adventurous and would welcome the challenge of the climb uphill can of course go the other way and start off in Punta del Hidalgo.

By the way, Punta del Hidalgo has made the news in the past because of its association with UFOs and aliens. Mysterious lights have been reported there and even a landed craft. You most probably won't see any extraterrestrial spaceships or encounter any alien beings on your visit, but you will be able to see why the location could easily inspire such sightings!

Punta del Hidalgo

© 2012 Steve Andrews


Steve Andrews (author) from Tenerife on March 25, 2012:

Thank you for your comments, Marissa and Kathy!

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on March 24, 2012:

Tenerife looks like a gorgeous place to visit, such beautiful pictures, and I had no idea those cave homes would even have such modern amenities as satellite TV! :) Excellent hub! :)

Marissa on March 24, 2012:

This is breathtaking. It is a nature lovers paradise.

It makes me want to go there for a holiday. Oh well, some of the island reminds me of New Mexico which is a very beautiful state. I lived there for a year.

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