Winter Sun on Spain’s Unspoilt Surfing Island – Fuerteventura

by Garth



 

‘Strong Winds’

We decided on a Winter sun holiday to Fuerteventura in mid-November to chill out and relax, we also we hired a car for a week to explore the island’s best bits. Fuerteventura’s climate makes it an ideal all year round destination because temperatures don’t often fall below 21ºC making it similar to Florida, it’s nicknamed ‘The island of eternal spring’. The year round sunshine and loads of bargain flights from the UK makes it easy for thousands of Brits, like us to escape the dreary British winter weather.

Fuerteventura is the second biggest of the Canary Islands (after Tenerife) and the closest of the Canaries to Africa. Fuerteventura means ‘Strong Winds’ because of its exposure to the constant North East trade winds throughout the year. Unlike neighbouring Gran Canaria it doesn’t have a tropical landscape, instead Fuerteventura is arid and desert like, you won’t see many trees or much vegetation, just the aloe vera cactus which thrives in the wild on the island.

Fuerteventura is rich in sea life – turtles, sperm whales and dolphins are some of the most important marine animals here, in 2009 UNESCO declared Fuerteventura a Biosphere Reserve.

 

 

The resort of Corralejo

Fuerteventura has two main resorts – Corralejo on the North East tip (popular with us Brits) and Morro Jable in the south (popular with Germans).  Corralejo pronounced ‘Coral-echo’ is very touristy, a lively resort with lots of bars, restaurants and the usual tourist-tat shops and popular with families. On Saturdays there’s a flea market at the El Campanario Shopping Center.  From the harbour you can catch a boat to the nearby small uninhabited island of Los Lobos or go a little further to the neighbouring island of Lanzarote for a day trip. Fuerteventura is a duty free island, we took advantage of this and bought some excellent priced aftershave in Corralejo, the staff we incredibly helpful to make sure we got the best prices too.

Our lovely villa and pool at the Bahiazul Villas

Our lovely villa and pool at the Bahiazul Villas

We stayed just outside of Corralejo at the Bahiazul Villas in a villa with a private heated pool, which was just lovely and very chic, the first time we’ve ever had our own pool staying in a hotel complex. We loved the design and Garth thought the pool looked like a David Hockney painting. We’d seen offers for this place come up on regularly on the internet so we finally managed to bag a really good one out of season.

Even better at night for stargazing

Even better at night for stargazing

Chilling out in our luxurious villa - heaven!

Chilling out in our luxurious villa – heaven!

 

 

Parque Natural de Corralejo & Grandes Playas

The Parque Natural de Corralejo

The Parque Natural de Corralejo

Just before you arrive at Corralejo you will drive through 6 miles of desert like sand dunes at the protected Parque Natural de Corralejo. A beautiful expanse of long and soft sand dunes as far as the eye can, it looks like the neighbouring Sahara Desert. Be warned the sand can get very hot in the summer.

Corralejo's sand dunes

Corralejo’s sand dunes

Perfect sand dune patterns

Perfect sand dune patterns

The beach here is called Grandes Playas and is enormous and the best part of this beach are the quiet areas just off the dunes away from the 2 luxury resort hotels in the distance which are a bit of an eye-sore. The water is gorgeous – bright turquoise and the water crystal clear, the quieter areas have a mix of families, couples and naturists.

The warm Saharan winds from Africa on Fuerteventura’s East coast make it perfect for water sports – surfing, wind surfing and kite-surfing are especially popular, so much so the World Kite Surfing Championships are held every August. We stopped off to watch the kite-surfers who are amazing! especially when they appear to jump miles into the air!

Kite surfers on Grandes Playas with the uninhabited island of Los Lobos in the background

Kite surfers on Grandes Playas with the uninhabited island of Los Lobos in the background

Fuerteventura is really popular with wind and kite surfers

Fuerteventura is really popular with wind and kite surfers

 

 

Fuerteventura’s Volcanic Centre

Extinct volcanoes and old lavascapes have created this stunning terrain

Extinct volcanoes and old lavascapes have created this stunning terrain

Drive inland to the middle of Fuerteventura and you’ll discover the island’s amazing volcanic centre. Huge peaks of extinct volcanoes and old lavascapes make an impressive lunar looking landscape, it reminded us of  Iceland. The terrain is popular with hikers wanting a challenge, that’s not us!

Incredible panoramas from the Morro Velosa viewpoint

Incredible panoramas from the Morro Velosa viewpoint

Photo of Fuerteventura's volcanic landscape taken from the airplane

Photo of Fuerteventura’s volcanic landscape taken from the airplane

Get on the road and head up the Tegu Mountain to Morro Velosa (Mirador De Morro Velosa) for one of the best scenic viewpoints on Fuerteventura. Inside the lookout building you can learn about the geology of the island. Apparently this is one of the best places on the island for stargazing, however not sure we would fancy that (sometimes hairy) mountain edge drive at night! Note it’s closed on Mondays, but don’t worry the viewpoint at the Guise and Ayose Statues just before you enter Morro Velosa is equally as good. When you’re done taking photos drive onto nearby Betancuria.

 

 

The Old Town Of Betancuria 

Betancuria situated in a mountainous region of Fuerteventura

Betancuria situated in a mountainous region of Fuerteventura

Betancuria is the island’s former capital (until 1834) It’s very compact and easy to do in an hour or so.  It’s traditional and picturesque with white washed homes and cactus filled pretty gardens. The star attraction is the 17th century Cathedral Iglesia de Santa María Betancuria, which costs 1.5 Euros to enter.

It’s a sleepy place where we wandered around the cobbled streets, there’s some nice craft shops and cafes. We stopped for lunch and tried various Canarian tapas dishes including Fuerteventura’s famous local goats cheese – Queso Majorero.

The charming former capital Betancuria

The charming former capital Betancuria

The lovely little Cathedral Santa Maria in Betancuria

The lovely little Cathedral Santa Maria in Betancuria

Pretty streets

Pretty streets

Betancuria is the perfect place to try some Canarian tapas

Betancuria is the perfect place to try some Canarian tapas

Impressive cactus plants

Impressive cactus plants

 

 

Betancuria View Point

Another great viewpoint after you leave Betancuria is Mirador Las Peñitas where you’ll see farmer’s fields – a green oasis in the middle of the desert.  You may even see some cute chipmunks (Barbary Squirrels) the local government ask tourists not to feed them food as they don’t want their population to grow.

Amazing views from Mirador Las Penitas

Amazing views from Mirador Las Penitas

A green oasis in the middle of the desert

A green oasis in the middle of the desert

Garth at the Mirador Las Penitas viewpoint

Garth at the Mirador Las Penitas viewpoint

 

 

Traditional Windmills of Fuerteventura

Old flour windmills are dotted all over Fuerteventura

Old flour windmills are dotted all over Fuerteventura

Dotted all over the island you’ll spot old windmills – the icon of Fuerteventura. They were once used to make ‘Gofio’ flour 200 years ago.  Gofio is a Canarian flour made from roasted grains – wheat or maize.  We drove through the small village of Lajares which has two windmills close to each other if you want to easily photograph some.

 

 

El Cotillo

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El Cotillo was our favourite place on Fuerteventura. It’s one of those charming old sleepy seaside villages that feels more like Greece than Spain with its signature blue and white painted buildings. It has a pretty harbour that has character and feels laid back. The best thing are the harbour restaurants serving the freshest catches of the day. Grab a seat on the terrace at one of the best – La Vaca Azal a Fuerteventura institution.

A former fishing town, El Cotillo was an important port on the trade route between Maderia and Fuerteventura.  It has a small ‘castle’ – Torre del Tostón built in the 1700s, this defence tower had cannons to protect the coast against pirates.

"Lots

Looking more like a Greek fishing village than a Spanish town

Looking more like a Greek fishing village than a Spanish town

Tasteful paintings for sale

Tasteful paintings for sale

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"Doors

 

 

El Cotillo’s Beach & Lagoons

A very short drive North of El Cotillo (or a leisurely walk) are some beautiful clear water lagoons and a white sandy beach at Playa De Los Lagos.  The black volcanic rocks set against the white sand make it a spectacular setting. People have made natural wind breaker walls from loose volcanic rocks, so if you’re lucky grab one of these spots to escape the wind if you plan on spending all day on the beach.

"Crystal

Phil at Playa De Los Lagos

Phil at Playa De Los Lagos

Phil watching the colourful kite displays

Phil watching the colourful kite displays

Fantastic kite displays at Playa Chica

Fantastic kite displays at Playa Chica

Keep walking and you’ll reach the beach of Playa Chica which had some amazing kite displays. It’s the biggest of the beaches here so gets a bit busier.  The kites people were flying were really impressive, all shapes and colours, our favourite was the giant octopus! Kite flying on Fuerteventura is so popular they even host their own annual International Kite Festival.

 

Caleta del Marrajo

The gorgeous lagoons at Caleta del Marrajo

The gorgeous lagoons at Caleta del Marrajo

Caleta del Marrajo

Caleta del Marrajo

Drive a little further North of El Cotillo towards the Faro lighthouse and there are even more stunning lagoons at Caleta del Marrajo. These little lagoons is where the water gets trapped in low tide, lovely small beaches of fine white sand, black lava rocks and crystal clear turquoise waters makes this place perfect! It’s more remote so there’s less people – a mix of naturists and clothed people nobody seemed bothered either way.

 

 

Local Food & Mini Salty Jacket Potatoes

Fuerteventura is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean so seafood is everywhere, Vieja (Parrot Fish) is the most common fish on the island. Whilst the main meat here is goat, as they are pretty much the only animals on the island, you’ll find goat stew – Puchero Canario on menus.

Of course staple Spanish tapas dishes are on menus, however you will see local tapas dishes including:

  • Papas Arrugadas – mini salty jacket potatoes served with Mojo Verde (green sauce) or Mojo Picón (spicy red sauce)
  • Majorero Cheese – local cheese made from goats milk, there’s also a smoked version which has a buttery texture and a nutty taste.
  • Gofio Amasado – A dish served on all the Canary Islands – a weird oily dough slice, that’s sweet and salty
Our favourite - a Spanish tapas lunch of ailoli, tortilla, ensalada rusa, chorizo, bread, wine and beer!

Our favourite – a Spanish tapas lunch of ailoli, tortilla, ensalada rusa, chorizo, bread, wine and beer!

Canarian tapas dishes

Canarian tapas dishes

Papas Arrugadas with Mojo Verde

Papas Arrugadas with Mojo Verde

 

 

Dark Skies

Fuerteventura's dark skies over Corralejo

Fuerteventura’s dark skies over Corralejo

Experimenting taking dark sky photographs over the beach

Experimenting taking dark sky photographs over the beach

Fuerteventura is one of the best places in the world for dark skies. The island has no pollution, the skies are often cloud free and has low light pollution because of the small population (75,000 people). It means skies are really dark and perfect for photographers wishing to capture starry night photos.  In recognition of this Fuerteventura received the Starlight Reserve Certificate in 2015.

 

 

Cofete Beach

The wild and remote Cofete Beach

The wild and remote Cofete Beach

We decided to drive all the way South and go right off the beaten path to see Cofete Beach, named as one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe by Tripadvisor. You won’t find many people here on this incredibly wild and unspoilt beach. It’s remote and windy but that’s the attraction.  It’s too dangerous to swim here because of currents and the height of the waves.

Getting to Cofete is quite a mission

Getting to Cofete is quite a mission

It’s quite a journey to get there and is not for the faint hearted. Cofete really is right off the beaten track, and the only way to get there is via a long dirt track, and we mean really long – 13 miles, so factor in lots of time to get there, a 4×4 might be better than our Nissan Micra we hired!  Make sure to take in the breathtaking view of Cofete and stop at the small observation spot before you descend to the beach.  Sadly we didn’t make it down to the beach as we left it too late in the day and were worried about driving all the way back in Corralejo in the dark (It takes 2.5 hours to drive from one end of the island to the other)  

There’s no doubt one of the main attraction of Fuerteventura are the beaches, they come in all sizes and there’s over 150 of them spread across 120 miles of rugged coastline. What really struck us was how unspoilt they are, so you won’t be short of options or fighting for space. The sand also comes in all colours too – white, gold and black.

Playa Las Lajas just one of the many quiet black sand beaches

Playa Las Lajas just one of the many quiet black sand beaches

 

 

Phil and Garth’s Top 5 Fuerteventura Tips

Phil and Garth's Top 5 Fuerteventura Tips

  • Tip #1: Take beach umbrellas for some shade if you’re heading to the remote lagoons.
  • Tip #2: Jump on a water taxi to Lobos Island – an excellent spot for snorkelling.
  • Tip #3: On beaches – green & yellow flags means it’s safe to swim, a red flag means it’s not safe.
  • Tip #4: The rainy season is October to March. We only had a couple of rainy days in November.
  • Tip #5: Tap water isn’t recommended for drinking, so buy cheap water at the supermarket instead.

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7 comments

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7 comments

Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) 23rd March 2019 - 1:23 am

Those kites! That’s pretty amazing, but then so was your posh villa. 🙂 We really enjoyed this look at Fuerteventura. We’d heard of it because of the windsurfing, but didn’t realize it was a popular vacation spot, also. You’ve definitely got us ready for some quality beach time – hopefully in the Canaries one day soon! Also, as David mentioned, awesome work on the logo in the sand – love that!

Reply
Anna 21st March 2019 - 7:34 pm

I´ve enjoyed your post soooooo much! I´m a fan of Canary Islands, but so far only visited Fuerteventura once ( as a day trip from Lanzarote)! I´ve basicly seen Corralejo and Playa Aguila, but I wish I could go back one day and explore more – your photos are always so inspiring! #feetdotravel

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Sharon 18th March 2019 - 11:26 pm

That pool looks delightful! I would spend hours there! But there’s so much to see out and about, too. I love the sand dunes, and then the beaches. This is a new place to me (not a Brit), so it’s fun to read about Fuerteventura!

Reply
Shona 17th March 2019 - 11:56 am

Eternal spring sounds perfect to me. I’ve not yet explored the Canaries so will add Fuerteventura to the list.

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Cynthia / Adventuring Woman 16th March 2019 - 10:48 pm

Love everything, from your gorgeous private pool villa to the dark skies and the remote beach. The volcanic landscape immediately made me think of Iceland as well. What a great winter escape! #feetdotravel

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David 16th March 2019 - 8:37 pm

That logo in the sand! I’ve been curious about the Canaries for a while and Fuerteventura looks interesting, far more like Greece than I’d ever expect. Perhaps next winter I’ll have to check it out.

Reply
California Globetrotter 15th March 2019 - 9:28 pm

Whooa what a beautiful place! I’m running low on places I have never heard of, so this is a new one for me! What a great combination of sand dunes and beaches! #FeetDoTravel

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