THE POOL at the Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora is nearly three football fields long. That might sound like an exhausting distance, but this isn't really a place to get your laps in. Because of the way the pool is set up, in various undulating sections, you approach it as you would an afternoon amble from one neighborhood to another. You float past the scene at the poolside bar, drop by a water-aerobics class, stop and relax awhile on a submerged shelf that is contoured like a lounge chair, so you can lean back with only your face out of the water. Then, when the sun gets to be too much, you paddle to the shade of an in-water cabana, where you might strike up a conversation with a comely European vacationer and idly wonder whether your family would really miss you if you never came home.
The pool is built for lazy afternoons at this Vegas-style resort situated a safe distance from the madness that is the southern coast of Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands. Tenerife has long been known as a place where German and British tourists go for foam parties and wet T-shirt contests, but the Gran Meliá is an upscale respite from all that. The resort is located in the town of Alcalá, which attracts vacationers mostly from the Spanish mainland.
If you want to venture farther out on the island, and you're just not in a foam-party state of mind, one curiosity to visit is the Pirámides de Güímar. This collection of black-rock terraces is thought to date to the 19th century, although explorer-author Thor Heyerdahl believed the terraces may have ties to the island's ancient pre-Hispanic civilizations. Frankly, it's hard to know what to make of the Pirámides, beyond that they look sort of cool. For instance, the brochure at the visitors' center says that "the existence of the Güímar stepped pyramids began to be recognized as a consequence of the publication, in the early nineties, of an article in a Tenerife daily newspaper." Um...what? No matter. Tenerife is a playground. No one visits it to take things all that seriously.