Arucas was founded in 1478 on the site of a pre-Hispanic Canarii village. It got rich quick thanks to sugar cane cultivation before fading when the sugar industry move to the Caribbean in the 1600s. Arucas rose again with cochineal cultivation in the 1900s: Cochineal are small insects that live on cactus plants and produce a bright red dye.
Most of the current town centre dates from the cochineal era and the church was built with bugl money just before chemical dyes destroyed the industry after the First World War.
The dark-coloured but surprisingly light San Juan Bautista church dominates the Arucas skyline.
Built entirely of local stone by master masons over 10 years from 1909, it was originally much paler but the facade has changed to a dark grey. Get inside if you can for the carved stone columns, beautiful stained glass windows, the works of Canarian painter Cristobal Hernandez de Quintana, and an extraordinary carving of the Reclining Christ by Manuel Ramos.
The area surrounding the church is all cobbled streets and fine old houses and is a steep but worthwhile place for a stroll. Afterwards have a coffee in the church square or on charming Calle Gourie and pop into the Casa de la Cultura to see the pretty patio and its big dragon tree.
The main street runs from the church to the municipal park with a kid's playing area, plenty of flowers and some lovely working examples of the stone water channels that used to irrigate the entire area.
Past the park down the hill is the Arehucas distillery with tours of its bottling plant and barrel room running during the morning. Tastings are included in the price and you can buy bottles in the inevitable gift shop at the end of the tour. The most expensive bottle sets you back over 80 euros but a bottle of the local Arehucas, the island's most popular rum, is about 10 euros.
A steep walk or a short drive up to the top of the Montaña de Arucas volcano gives you a lovely overview of the area and its banana plantations. The drive from Arucas town down to the coast takes you through the banana plantations. Stop at El Puertillo for a seafood lunch by its little beach or a dip in its lovely natural pools.
For more highlights of Arucas town, visitits tourism website in English here.