Puerto de la Cruz is situated on the coast of the Orotava Valley, on the north-facing slopes of the Island of Tenerife, the largest island in the Canaries. This Atlantic archipelago, lying 100 kms from Africa and 1,500 kms from the Iberian Peninsula, was known in Antiquity as the “Garden of the Hesperides” or “the Fortunate Isles”. Geologically speaking, they were formed in the Tertiary, emerging from the sea-bed as a result of a series of volcanic eruptions.
The Orotava Valley is a large depression of some 150 sq kilometres which descends as a steeply sloping ramp from the Island’s mountain ridge to the Atlantic. In the course of history there have been a number of explanations suggested for the origin of the Valley. The currently most widely accepted is that which considers the Valley to be an intercolline valley formed by eruptions along its margins, whilst the centre portion remained unaffected.
The eminent Puerto geologist Telesforo Bravo showed that the space at present occupied by the town centre of Puerto de la Cruz “ was claimed from the sea in two volcanic phases. The first, in ancient times… the lava flows moved down along the valleys of the Martiánez and San Felipe barrancos [ravines], each of which had a beach , and thus were formed the two large reefs, Martiánez and Mequinez (…) The subsequent volcanic phase which profoundly altered the bay mentioned above, filling it with lava and where the town of Puerto was constructed, took place in 1430. There were four lava vents, two of which, La Montaña de Las Arenas and La Montañeta affected our coastline. From the first one, torrents of lava leapt over the Montaña del Taoro, and flooded the bay from San Telmo to Punta del Viento, Santo Domingo, Penitente, as far as the Casa de La Aduana [the Customs House]. Between theses lava flows and the Mequinez reef there remained a wide channel which became the Charco de los Camarones [the Shrimp Pool], what is today the Plaza del Charco. The lava flows from La Montañeta covered the coast from the track to el Burgado as far as the left bank of the Barranco de San Felipe, running into the ocean where they formed Punta Brava”.
The most noteworthy topographic feature of the municipality is the Montaña de La Horca (also known as the Montaña de las Arenas) , with a height of 243 metres. The municipality covers an area of 890 hectares – almost 9 sq kilometres – which makes it one of the smallest in the Canary Archipelago. The present boundaries were fixed between 1840 and 1847 as a direct result of the cordons sanitaires established during a serious outbreak of yellow fever.
The coast at Puerto de la Cruz , as in much of the north of Tenerife, drops vertically into the sea, especially around the areas of Punta Brava and Martiánez. The geographic location is what determines the town’s benign climate. Its climate, steady and temperate throughout the year, with little fluctuation between maximum and minimum temperatures, was recommended as early as the XIXth Century by the British Medical Association. In fact, Puerto enjoys its own particular microclimate which Viera y Clavijo defined as :”healthy, cheerful, without offensive heat nor incommodious cold”. This phenomenon is the result of the confluence of a series of natural factors arising from its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer. Statistics show that Puerto de la Cruz has more than 1,900 hours of sun a year. Its steppe climate is hot with dry summers, typical of all the Tenerife coastline, particularly on the northern shore. It is characterised by the fact that it maintains relatively high temperatures, with little variation, throughout the year, and which fluctuate between a maximum of 22 degrees Centigrade and a minimum of 15, with an annual average of 18 degrees. The relative humidity is around 75 per cent. Annual rainfall is barely 460 mm, spread over an average 75 rainy days per year.