have you ever visited fuerteventura? i spent a summer holiday there when i was fourteen and must admit it wouldn’t have been a destination i would have thought of visiting again had it not been for thomas cook airlines, who invited me on a wonderful trip there last month with fellow blogging pals lucy, sophie, laila, dannii, yaya & lloyd.
one of spain’s canary islands situated in the atlantic ocean off the coast of morocco, fuerteventura has a breathtaking barren beauty, with guaranteed sunshine and negligible rainfall that make it a great year-round destination and a perfect spot for a winter sun break, just four hours from the uk. during our five days there we explored across the island, taking in its golden drifts of sand, sparkling shoreline, arid plains dotted with windmills and even visited a goat farm along the way!
here are for my top tips when visiting the island…
S T A Y
recently bestowed the title of ‘best european waterside hotel’ by condé nast johansens, the luxurious 5-star gran hotel atlantis bahía real sits on the north coast of the island in one of its most idyllic spots, where views of white sandy beaches with gently lapping turquoise waters are de rigueur.
the décor is strongly influenced by moorish and colonial styles, while palm trees surround the two tranquil lagoon pools where we spent a lovely morning relaxing in the balmy november sunshine.
it’s not hard to see why it the ‘best waterside’ title is so fitting; the hotel’s private beach offers spectacular views of lobos and lanzarote beyond, with a huge swath of brilliant utopian white sand sweeping down to the crystal clear turquoise ocean on its doorstep.
E A T
the gran hotel atlantis bahía real boasts five onsite restaurants, including the open-air coco beach lounge, which sits on the edge of the hotel’s secluded beach and was the setting for one of the best meals of our trip.
our delicious lunch buffet included local delights such as andalusian-style deep fried calamari with aioli, prawns in garlic sauce and traditional salt-baked canarian ‘wrinkly’ potatoes with green mojo dipping sauce, all washed down with an abundance of fragrant rose juleps.
it wouldn’t be hard to while away a whole afternoon sitting in the calming paradise of coco beach, cocktail in hand, watching the brilliant blue waves lap leisurely at the shore…
I S L A D E L O B O S
a 10 minute boat ride from corralejo is the island of lobos, named for the dense populations of seals – ‘lobos del mar’ (sea wolves) – who were the island’s only inhabitants when it was discovered by the spanish conquerors of the canaries archipelago in the fifteenth century.
the small port and fishermen’s cottages were a picture-perfect illustration of desert island hideaway bliss and draw colour inspiration from the turquoise green waters that surround the island. we took the path from the boat jetty through the wild, arid landscape to the small, sheltered sea lagoon of playa de la concha, which i remembered visiting with my parents all those years ago. in fact, back home i even managed to dig out this little throwback photo of my fourteen year old self posing awkwardly on the beautiful sandy beach..!
S N O R K E L L I N G
the highlight of the holiday was surely the sunday afternoon we spent relaxing on our catamaran and snorkelling of the coast of lobos.
the last time i snorkelled had been in the red sea off the egyptian coast in hurghada, and while the diversity of underwater species may not have been as abundant here, the waters were just as crystal clear and inviting, full of sea bream, parrot and puffer fish. our guide even dove down to spot an electric ray on the ocean floor as we explored the waters, testing our underwater photography skills with gopro cameras strapped to our wrists.
after the exhilaration of ocean swimming we all clambered back aboard to enjoy a delicious leisurely lunch of traditional spanish paella – what else? then there was nothing more pressing to do except lay back on deck and dry off in the warm afternoon sun – pure bliss!
L A N D S C A P E
fuerteventura’s landscape is awash with breathtaking contrasts. in the north there is an enormous expanse of white sands beside the turquoise waters of the atlantic ocean, while further south a red and ochre volcanic landscape emerges, dramatic and rugged; a semi-arid wilderness dotted with windmills, wild flowers, goats and cacti straight out of a western.
just south of corralejo is one of the most spectacular white-sand beaches in europe, a huge swathe of protected dunes stretching for six miles. contrary to popular belief we were told by our guide, the vast dunes haven’t blown over from the sahara but are instead created from tiny fragments of molluscs and sea urchins carried in by the tides. the stunning coastline and the spectacular volcanic landscapes that dazzled us throughout the trip are the reason why the island is now designated a biosphere reserve.
S T U N N I N G V I S T A S
the viewpoint of corrales of guise, located on the road between the valley and the village of santa inés betancuria in the centre of the island, offers simply spectacular views over the valley of santa inés, villages and valleys and rugged mountains.
dominating the scene are two imposing 4-metre high bronze sculptures which represent the kings of ancient fuerteventura before the conquest in 1402. ayose and guise ruled the two kingdoms which divided the island, known as jandia maxorata, which was separated by a defensive wall which is believed to have been located at the point where this viewpoint now stands.
P R E T T Y T O W N S
betancuria is the island’s first city, named for norman conqueror jean de bethencourt who founded it in 1405. located in one of the driest parts of the island the archaic city – once the island’s capital – is now a cultural attraction which includes an archaeological museum showing how its ancient inhabitants lived.
we stopped by briefly on our trip across the island to wander the sun-drenched alleys and courtyards, soaking up the charm of it’s 17th century church and courtyard alongside the patchwork of dry-stone walls, palm trees and simple, whitewashed cottages. it’s definitely a spot i’d like to revisit to discover the traditional arts & crafts market at casa santa maria where you can watch local artists at work and enjoy some of the local cuisine at the restaurant next door.
P O I N T B R E A K
the surfing mecca of the island, playa el cotillo is a picture-perfect exposed beach break that offers a consistent surf year-round.
looking down at the beach from the steep cliffside we saw nothing but the steely dark blue ocean crashing on the rocks below, spewing up bubbles of fluffy white foam. beyond that, fine white sand as far as the eye could see, dotted with dozens of eager surfers heading out to catch a break on the late afternoon swell.
i’ve never trying my hand at surfing (and would probably be awful) but watching the surfers down below i suddenly had the desire to rush out into the oncoming waves myself to experience the exhilaration and adrenaline rush for myself. this certainly would be an incredible place to learn the sport!
so what do you think; have i persuaded you that fuerteventura is worth a visit?
[icon name=”handshake-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] fabric of my life was a guest of thomas cook airlines in fuerteventura. all photography & views my own.