Saying this was my first trip to a Canary Island may sound shocking to most Brits. The ‘sun-lounger’ package-deal type holiday is just not me, if you haven’t worked that out already. But I can see why we Brits love it. 10 days of warm (25-27 degrees) sunshine, 13 hours a day. In April. No, really, I haven’t made this up. And it’s only a 4 hour flight with a cheap-tastic airline.
If you want to just spend your time lying around near a pool or on the beach then I can also see why you’d pick Fuerteventura. But this island’s hidden gem beside’s it’s geo-tastic moon like landscape is actually everything else it has going for it and what most google-search results won’t tell you. It’s an active adventure holiday haven..
1. Water sports – Kitesurfing, Windsurfing and Surfing…
With 150km of stunning white sandy beaches and crystal clear warm water Fuerte makes an ideal destination for kitesurfing, surfing and windsurfing as well as diving, snorkelling and fishing. To the north of the Island lies the package-holiday town of Corralejo. It’s 10km golden beach housed by mountains of protected sand dunes and speckled by goats is the perfect place to get on the water. On Flag Beach, many learn and practice their board sportswith the reliable winds and a variety of water conditions meeting the needs of wind and kite surfers of any level.
5 years ago there were only a handful of surf schools but today there is an abundance of water-sport companies looking to teach you their sport. So if you’re looking for a quiet surf you may be disappointed, but if the swell is firing there are plenty of breaks to chose from as well as a variety of beach and point breaks to cater for varying abilities. The great news however is the temperature of the water – an easy 2/3 wetsuit or even just boardies if you’re heading in for a quick one or a swim.
The neighbouring islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote are well known for their cycling and training camps, but Fuerteventura less so. Whether you’re looking to ride on or off-road there’s plenty of choice for all.
The roads on the island are in top-condition. I’m not sure the locals would know what a ‘pot-hole’ is. Most of the roads on the island have accompanied and segregated cycle lanes yet traffic is also fairly low in volume too. And, as the second largest island in the Canaries at 100km long and 31km wide, it provides plenty of ground to cover and that’s before we consider how mountainous it is.
Talking of mountains… the mountain biking opportunities are also fantastic with an abundance of trails to chose from across the country. All are well sign-posted providing an opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the island, climbing volcanos and feeding chip-monks along the way. Our favourite ride being the circular route from Correlejo climbing up to Calderon Hondo (one of the best preserved volcanos with a 70m deep crater) before dropping down into the “surf village” of Lajares for an awesome burrito and chill-out in a hammock before heading back along the North Track via Majanicho to Correlejo.
The only bug bear may be the out-and-back approach to some rides (particularly road) or the dreaded “consistently-reliable” wind the water sport enthusiasts love. Some routes may also prove difficult to cycle, as we learnt in Betancuria; the ascent too steep and loose to ride; but provided a very fun and hairy descent.
There are plenty of bike hire companies on the island with very reasonable prices. After much research we picked Riders Surf n’ Bike in El Cotillo as they had bikes in a size to suit petite me and a decent spec required for the terrain.
3. Walking and hiking
The immense volcanic landscapes and pristine beaches earned the entire island the honour of UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status in 2009. In the northern region of La Oliva alone, there are 9 dedicated walking routes. As with the mountain biking, many of these routes the same, with clear sign posting and information on route.
The “Huellas de leyenda” (in the footsteps of a legend) guide came in very handy (download here), outlining all the routes, distances and features on route. Most of the routes are accessible to Joe Blogs, but walking boots are recommended due to the uneven and often steep surfaces. The views from the tops of the volcanoes however are worth the trek.
The most famous mountain of the Canaries Archipelago Mnt. Tindaya is apparently shut to the public. Although there is a sign at the bottom, it doesn’t explain why and nor is there anything to actually stop you from accessing the route nor any information on the main tourist websites for Fuerteventura… so we gave it a go! The climb / scramble was good fun and the views from the top worth it. Although it looks high and challenging from the bottom, it only took 20 mins to scale the 400m.
The only place we had planned to visit but due to an unfortunate puncture on the hire car that took us a day to deal with (!) we didn’t manage to get to was Lobos Island. Visible from the beaches of Correlejo, Lobos Island is accessible by a 15 min ferry crossing. The island was one of the first nature areas to be designated as ‘protected’ in 1982. With no vehicles or roads, the island would be perfect for exploring the flora-fauna and to get away from the hectic tourist towns on the main island. Just remember to take some lunch with you as there’s only one restaurant to feed the hungry.