Historical references to Los Cristianos date back to the 16th century, when it is described as a harbour by the Notary Hernán Guerra. Los Cristianos remained an important port for the south of Tenerife throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries but remained unsettled until the latter part of the 19th Century due to the threat of pirate raids as there was no significant population to warrant a castle or fort.
The first permanent settlement of Los Cristianos was in the 1860s when it was described by Pedro de Olive as “a hamlet in Arona, with three one-storey houses, a two-storey house and a hut.” It was officially recognised in governmental documents as being established in 1888 by 29 houses and a cave.
The population of Los Cristianos started to grow around the turn of the century with the advent of industry & trade. With the threat from pirates and privateers now a distant memory, Los Cristianos, with its natural harbour thrived as the import-export centre of the south of Tenerife. In 1909, the first Quay was built to ship the produce of a local distillery. It still remains today and is known as “El Puerto Viejo” (Old Quay). Other industries at the time included a resin factory, nearby salt mines and a fish salting factory.
Agriculture didn’t feature in the local economy until the land was irrigated by Teofílo Bello Rodríguez who in 1914 was authorized to run a pipe from his land in Vilaflor to land owned by his father in Los Cristianos. This fuelled further economic expansion, with the planting of tomato and banana crops, which required new labour to work the plantations.
In 1924 the growing population had growing spiritual as well as economic needs, so the residents commissioned the construction of the Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Chapel was demolished in 1987 and new larger parish church built was in its place in the centre of Los Cristianos.
In 1934 a larger port was constructed in the bay of Los Cristianos, which could accommodate larger ships, allowed for the development of fishing, and increased the importance of commercial shipping. A new and bigger port was built on the same site in 1975 and saw the inauguration of a daily ferry service between Los Cristianos and the neighbouring Island of La Gomera.
Around the time of World War II, a number of fortifications were built, with at least 3 small bunkers along the Los Cristianos coastline, possibly as defences against a planned British invasion. During World War II Spain was officially neutral, but considered Axis-friendly, as the Nazis had financed the phalangist victory in the Spanish Civil War. Some of these fortifications remain intact today.
Since 2015, the town of Los Cristianos is the headquarters of the Islamic Federation of the Canary Islands, which is the organization that brings together associations and Muslim communities of the Canary Islands.