Bocacangrejo, Tenerife – The Rainbow Village Full Of Surprises

Bocacangrejo, Tenerife, was always going to be an irresistible day-trip detour for us – we do love us a rainbow town!

There’s never NOT a vibe when neighbourhoods collectively decide to get their paint brushes out, and we were definitely keen to see it. So, on our way back from the fabulous UNESCO town of La Laguna, we plotted our route via Bocacangrejo to check out its kaleidoscopic peculiarities. But it wasn’t just the bright buildings that made it a Tenerife highlight for us… Let’s just say, it did not disappoint!

Checking Out Bocacangrejo in Tenerife

It’s not too uncommon to see fishing villages painted in rainbow hues and hear tales of fishermen finding their way home via its eye-catching identity. (My personal favourite is Villajoyosa, near Alicante, if you wanted to read about it) But how Bocacangrojo differs is that these multicoloured cave-houses are built well and truly into the cliff face and the black volcanic rocks just make these rainbow homes pop even more!

And, ironically, the painted homes of Bocacangrejo weren’t even the result of near-fated fishermen. The idea started when resident artist, 74-year-old Rafael Marichal, had a recent idea to bring a bit of joy to the enclave.

As the namesake of the Boca Cangrejo volcanic eruption of 1492, famously seen by Christopher Columbus as he circumnavigated The Canaries, this tiny little village is now attracting more and more visitors. And whilst this isn’t going down too favourably with every resident, Rafael is more than happy to greet the out-of-towners and tourists with a little insight into his work. He’s also known to hand out free bracelets too.

You may have already seen the famous Bocacangrejo hearts on Instagram, there are certainly a few visitors here for the novelty of taking a photo. But the scene is broader than that. Lobsters and crabs, seashells and religious artwork, all with a reason and all spreading joy.

But is Bocacangrejo just about the paintings?

No. What we loved equally when we visited was how this compact little neighbourhood is shoe-horned into the ancient volcanic rock that originally would have been the endpoint where the Boca Cangrejo eruption met the sea. It’s quite incredible how these little dug-outs have been transformed into actual tiny homes, and the modesty and simplicity of life here. Often just one humble room, and yet you get the feeling the locals are well aware of their good fortune. Rumour has it that the first settlers inhabited this place to hide from the Franco regime during the Civil War. The caves are only accessible by paths, not roads, and it was a good place to settle until calm arrived. Today it’s home to many of the descendants of those original settlers, and attracts a handful of informed bathers and local kids when school’s out.

The Crabs At Bocacangrejo

Another fascinating feature of this unusual little fishing village has to do with the name Bocacangrejo, or ‘Crabs Pit’. From the vantage point of the pedestrian walkways, a snatch of movement started to catch our eyes. There on the black volcanic rocks were hundreds of ‘Samarines’, black crabs, scurrying about in the low tide looking for lunch. There might be a smattering of seagull-smashed crabs upon the rocks, but for the most part these camouflaged crustaceans avoid disaster and go about their daily business. They are quite unique to the crabs we are used to here in the UK, with their black shells and just a dash of red and blue on their claws, and they are a sight to behold.

Have Lunch At Kiosco

With views out to sea from nearly all of Bocacangrejo we were a little disappointed there wasn’t a little bar taking advantage of this for a quick cerveza. However, there is a gem of a place right at the top of the village on the main road… Kiosco.

Open for lunch, or just beer, Wednesday to Sunday 1-4pm, expect a limited menu of local dishes done to perfection and a bill that can only be paid in cash. It may not have a great view (you can just make out the ocean above the rooftops) but it’s worth a visit for the rice Marisco (seafood broth) and crispy sardines.

Bocacangrejo was certainly one of our favourite hidden gems in Tenerife but we hope it doesn’t become too popular with visitors and the vibe is spoiled.

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