Masca is like a cross between Shangri-La and The Lost World, and after the fabulous Teide Park it is Tenerife’s second most popular destination.
The village of Masca and the surrounding area was one of the last refuges of the indigenous inhabitants here, the Guanche, who lived in the deep caves of the main ravine, or barranco, before eventually being displaced by people from beyond the archipelago.
As this is one of the remotest parts of the island it seems a world away from the big resorts, and here you can get a real feel for what Tenerife was once like before holidaymakers started arriving.
Masca has managed to hang on to its unspoilt appeal because it has only really been accessible since the early 1990s.
The Road to Masca
Before then there were just a few paths wandering up the hill and the village was effectively cut off from the wider world. The main road leading there today is hardly average and far from a smooth driving experience so any motorist with a phobia for heights and sharp hairpin bends would be well advised to join a tour instead.
This is a seriously challenging drive up a narrow road that clings precariously to what seems like a sheer cliff face at times, and there are points where you have to crane over the steering wheel to see your way forward.
If it’s any comfort, accidents are pretty rare here, and statistically it’s one of Tenerife’s safest roads, probably because drivers are so terrified they don’t take any unnecessary risks and take it as slowly as possible.
If you’re up for a challenge the road trip to Masca affords some of the most fabulous views on the island. The majestic Teno Mountains lurch up on all sides, their rocky slopes dotted with small clusters of houses, and there are fine views across the great gorge to the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.
There are many places to stop off for a snack, with lots of isolated houses providing refreshments. Orange orchards cover the slopes so the juice at these stop-offs comes straight off the trees and into your chilled glass.
The Village of Masca
The village itself, when you finally get there, is a haven for hikers, with numerous attractive hostels oozing character and a small supermarket for stocking up on supplies.
If you feel like making the hike down to the pebble beach of Masca Bay you should allow about 3 hours, but it’s a popular hiking route and the seclusion of the bay and its attractive views are reward enough for the effort.
In the upper part of the village at Masca Lomo there’s an interesting little museum in a tiny traditional house, and you can pick up various trinkets at adjoining stalls.
Some Closing Tips on Masca
Masca is perfect for a day’s outing, but just be careful making the drive up there.
Don’t be tempted to park in passing bays as the road can get pretty crowded, and take it as slowly as you can.
Also, because of its great popularity Masca becomes crowded with jeep safaris after about 11am and there’ll be no chance of getting parking in the centre of the village. Get there in the early morning or after 3pm for the most leisurely drive and a chance of parking the car closer than El Palmar.
With economy car hire so readily available and affordable on Tenerife, Masca makes the ideal destination for a day out from one of the island’s resorts.