Tenerife South Airport Spotting Guide

43% of the Canaries total population lives on the largest island of Tenerife.  It has been a popular destination for tourists since the 19th century although the main boom in tourism occurred in the second half of the 20th century, and especially since the 1980s when the sunnier south of the island was developed.

The island has two airports with Tenerife South, (formerly Reina Sofia), accommodating the majority of the tourist traffic, and Tenerife North, (formerly Los Rodeos), mainly managing inter-island and other domestic flights.

Tenerife South airport was inaugurated in November 1978.  The airport is situated on the southern tip of the island in the municipality of Granadilla de Abona.  It is located just to the north of the town of Los Abrigos and to the east of the tourist hotspots of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas.  It is the second busiest airport in the Canaries after Gran Canaria, and it handled 58,461 aircraft movements and nearly 10.5 million passengers in 2016.

The airport handles holiday traffic from across Europe, with the UK, Germany and Scandinavia providing a large proportion of these flights.  Most passengers arrive and depart on Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 family aircraft, although TUI (Thomson), Jet2 and Condor also fly 757s.  There are A330s from Aeroflot and Thomas Cook Scandinavia, and occasional Volotea 717s, Binter ATR 72s and the odd bizjet make a welcome change from the norm.

There is a rough dirt track which runs north from the town of Los Abrigos and then east along the southern boundary of Tenerife South airport before turning south again, routeing around the tomato farms covered in white plastic sheeting, back to the main TF-643 road west of the junction for La Tejita.

Written by Clive Grant, Marcus (visted January 2017)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 08/26
3,200m x 45m

(10,499ft x 148ft)

Terminals Terminal
One terminal is used for all flights.
Spotting Information Ladder Not necessary
Car Although Spot no.1 is less than 1km from the town of Los Abrigos, a car is really needed to get to the best spots.  Runway ends can also change suddenly which makes a car even more necessary.
Restrooms In Los Abrigos cafes and restaurants
Drinks/Food Supermarkets and cafes in Los Abrigos
Hotels Apartamentos Isla de Oro in Los Abrigos is probably the most convenient place to stay.
Season Tenerife is an all year round destination, although it’s busiest during the summer and winter peaks.  Daylight hours are shorter in winter, although the light is better.  There is also less chance of heat haze in winter, especially for traffic on the taxiway.  The winter also provides a greater variety of traffic.
Runway Usage  08 As the main trade winds are from the north-east, Runway 08 is the one used most often.
26 Although not used as often as Runway 08, sudden changes in wind direction are not uncommon, requiring the use of Runway 26.

Spot#1 – Landing spot – 08 arrivals
WHERE Starting in the town of Los Abrigos, go to the far eastern end of Calle la Gaviota and at the end of the road turn left onto the dirt track. The first 100m is probably the worst bit of the route, so take care, especially if driving.
WHAT Choose your spot to get the angle you prefer for landing traffic on Runway 08.
TIME All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 80-200mm


Spot#2 – Boulder mounds – 08 arrivals
WHERE Following the dirt track east from Spot No.1, there are a number of boulder mounds just before you get to Crash gate P6.
WHAT 08 arrivals only. The mound nearest the fence is good enough to get landing shots with the mountains in the background, but if you’re confident with your rock climbing skills, the tallest mound further back gives more opportunities.
TIME  All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 80-200mm


Spot#3 – West point spotting tower – arrivals and departures 08, dep 26
WHERE Further along the track is a rather basic structure which provides views over the fence.
WHAT 08 arrivals and departures including traffic on the parallel taxiway (heat haze!). 26 departures. For traffic on the runway you’re likely to get the top of the fence in your photos from this spot.
TIME All day until late afternoon

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 80-250mm


Spot#4 – Crash gate P7 – 26 arrivals and departures
WHERE Continuing east along the track you will come to Crash gate P7.
WHAT 26 arrivals and departures. Although this spot could also be used for Runway 08 traffic, there is no need as other spots are better, particularly as you need to shoot through the crash gate latch here.
TIME All day until late afternoon.  Also, for 26 arrivals taking the first exit, the light is good here till later in the evening.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH  70-250mm


Spot#5 – Mid point spotting tower – all arrivals and departures
WHERE Thanks to the Canary Islands Spotting Group, (cispotting.net), roughly half way along the runway is a spotting tower which works well for whichever end of the runway is in use.  It’s also closer to the fence than the West point spotting tower so you should normally be able to avoid getting the fence in your photos.
WHAT  All arrivals and departures including traffic on the parallel taxiway (heat haze!).
TIME All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is a bench on the spotting tower but there is no shade and there are no facilities so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH  70-250mm


Spot#6 – Crash gate P10 – all arrivals and departures
WHERE Continue on the track until it turns away from the fence at Crash gate P10.
WHAT All arrivals and departures including traffic on the parallel taxiway.
TIME All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.  Also, you need to shoot through the latch in the crash gate so this spot is not ideal, especially as Spot No.5 is nearby and much better.  However, on a hot day it may mean you can get lift off shots on Runway 08 from here when traffic may still be on the ground passing Spot No.5.
FOCAL LENGTH  70-250mm


Spot#7 – Touchdown point – 26 arrivals and departures
WHERE You have to be both adventurous and very keen to get touchdown shots to trek to this spot.  You need to walk along the narrow path from Crash gate P10 with a steep drop on one side, stopping before you get to the red and white striped ‘pill box’ structure on the other side of the fence.  Also, when you get there you need to shoot through the mesh of the fence, so it’s far from ideal.  Still, it might be worth it for the odd photo of aircraft burning rubber on touchdown.
WHAT 26 arrivals and departures
TIME All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so he light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH 70-250mm


Spot#8 – Landing spot – 26 arrivals
WHERE On the eastern airport perimeter road. Continue on the TF-643 and turn left into the Carretera al Hermano Pedro before you reach the city of El Médano. Just park next to the road.
WHAT Landing traffic on Runway 26 only.  You can choose your spot according to the angle you prefer for landing shots.
TIME All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need .
FOCAL LENGTH 80-250mm


Spot#9 – Los Abrigos – 26 departures, 08 arrivals
WHERE If you’re staying in Los Abrigos and you don’t mind using a long lens, there are several places from which to take airborne shots, including the eastern edge of the town.
WHAT 26 departures and 08 arrivals.
TIME All day until late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. Shops and cafes nearby
FOCAL LENGTH 400-500mm


Spot#10 – Restaurante El Mirador, Los Abrigos – 26 departures
WHERE Another option  if you’re staying in Los Abrigos is to sit out at one of the cafe restaurants like El Mirador with your camera and long lens at the ready.
WHAT 26 departures only.
TIME All day till late afternoon.

Summer – At sunrise the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good till a bit later.

Winter – Towards sunset the sun will be in line with the runway so the light is not so good.

MISC. At least you can have a coffee or beer whilst your waiting for the next departure.
FOCAL LENGTH 350-500mm
Spot#11 – Arrivals 08
WHERE If you are coming from the southern spots drive trough the villages Los Abrigos (Spots 9-10) and drive northwards on the TF-65 which leads to the Autopista TF-1. Taxe the next right into the TF-645 heading to Atogo. After a few minutes you will find the entrance to another dirt road which brings you to the approach path of RWY 08.
WHAT Choose your spot to get the angle you prefer for landing  traffic on Runway 08. Line up and departures can be shot from different positions. You are on a higher level and can photograph over the fence so no ladder is needed.
TIME From afternoon till sunset in the summer only! Holding Point for 08 dep from late noon till sunset.
MISC. There is no shade and there are no facilities at this spot so bring what you need.
FOCAL LENGTH depends on where you stand but 50-200mm is fine


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