The Canary Islands are one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers and it isn’t difficult to see why. Although Spanish, the close proximity to the North African Coast of these Atlantic islands gives them amazing year round sunshine and cultural influences that are more than a little exotic. Fuerteventura the second largest of the islands although developed in places has a wild and natural beauty that has seen it designated as a ‘Biosphere Reserve’ by UNESCO.
The landscape is shaped by the long extinct volcanoes, with inland areas dominated by wide open spaces that are dotted with traditional villages, herds of goats and windmills that take full advantage of the Atlantic winds, golden beaches fringed by dunes are vast enough to feel secluded even at the height of the summer season – Fuerteventura is a mass of contradictions, traditional island life meets beach culture and embraces it to create something uniquely special.
Corralejo in the north of the island is one of the largest resorts and with its miles of beaches has excellent watersports, although developed the resort does have some more secluded spa beach hotels; although the Barcelo Corralejo Bay is close to the local beach it is also just 2kms from the sweeping sand dunes that the area is known for, billed as a spa resort this hotel has all the facilities for a perfect relaxing break – comfortable rooms all with terraces or balconies make this a perfect hotel to just sit and watch the world go by.
Caleta de Fuste is a more historic town with its 18th century tower and old harbour and although it is rising in popularity it currently maintains its old town charm with boutiques, great seafood restaurants and a local market. The Sheraton Fuerteventura is a fabulous modern hotel with the added bonus of a 18 hole golf course and full spa facilities and is highly recommended for all discerning travellers.
The local specialities are numerous but rely heavily on game and fish – pescado salado (fish cooked in salt) is found on most menus as is the rich Canarian garlic sauce; the best way to eat Spanish food is to find a good quality tapas restaurant where you can sample lots of small dishes all based around the local specialities and seasonal produce.
Casa Princess Arminda in Betancuria not only serves some of the best tapas in the island but it also boasts on of the loveliest locations, dining on the terrace as the sun slowly sets is an experience in itself. For somewhere livelier head to Carralejo to one of the many restaurants that the town has to offer, from Argentinian steak restaurants to tapas bars and fresh seafood this vibrant town has plenty of choice for everybody.
If you translate the name Fuerteventura it can be interpreted as ‘strong winds’ and this is what this island has, the west coast has excellent windsurfing opportunities with trade winds that whip the ocean into a frenzy, sunbathing along these exposed beaches is aided by the drystone shelters that protect from the most bracing of the winds – sunbathers should be aware that the intensity of the sun is masked by these winds and caution should be taken when spending time outside.
Head to Betancuria in the north of the island, the old capital set in a beautiful valley has some great attractions that offer something different to a day at the beach; Inglesia de Santa Maria is a beautiful church rebuilt in 1691 after pirate attacks, the baroque altar is particularly spectacular, just across the road is the Museo Artisania, this living museum has workers creating artisan crafts as well as an opportunity to try the great local cheese – this is the perfect part of the island for those that like to see the traditional culture of their holiday destination.
July and August are peak season, the number of visitors is increased by the island popularity amongst holidaymakers from the Spanish mainland this does push the prices up but for most families is the only time that they can travel. For those that have the luxury of being able to travel outside this peak period Fuerteventura is great to visit during the autumn and early winter months, the days are still long and hot but the evenings are pleasantly cool giving a welcome break from the intensity of the day.