Volcano on Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura is nearer to Africa than Europe
At approximately four hours' flying distance from the UK, the Spanish island of Fuerteventura is the ideal choice for an affordable holiday at time of year. Tan fans are best to avoid January and February as these are the coolest and cloudiest months. The rest of the year, the island offers almost continual sunshine; more than two thousand hours per annum.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
No Longer an Island of Solitude
The island was originally known as Erbania and then ‘Fort Aventura’- supposedly derived from the exclamation ‘Quelle forte aventure!’ meaning: What a grand adventure! This was reputedly said by one of the island’s fifteenth century conquerors.
The second largest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is the least populated but this is changing fast: sixty thousand tourists visit every month, bringing employment and prosperity to the inhabitants. Fuerteventura is also known by the Spanish as ‘Isla de soledad’ (Island of solitude). Although this is somewhat ironic nowadays when.coastal areas are being developed at an alarming rate, attracting entrepreneurs from the mainland and beyond. Tourism is thus booming here much like the Majorca of the 1970s. Although there is a lot of construction, completion is swift and all development is done in the name of progress. Canny investors realise there is potential for year-round letting and know they can gain fast returns on their initial investments.Tourism is now the only future. If it were not for the desalination plants, tourism too, would not be possible. Water is still an expensive commodity as anyone with a swimming pool will tell you. Private residences are metered but this is a vast improvement on the pre-tourism Fuerteventura of only thirty years ago when most of the islanders had to walk miles to the nearest well.
The main areas of development on the island are the central resort of Calete de Fuste. With its horseshoe-shaped man-made beach and Correlejo to the north, another up-and-coming tourist centre. There is safe bathing here for children and excellent facilities for a family holiday.
The Kids Will Love a Camel Trek Up the Mountainside
If you have children then a camel safari is not to be missed. The dromedaries were brought to the island from nearby Africa as their robust constitution enables them to thrive in the arid desert conditions. A ‘safari’ can be combined with a visit to the nearby zoo and lush botanical gardens which is home to over two thousand species of cacti and indigenous plants.
Canary Island Guide
A View Over to La Graciosa - Thought to be the Inspiration for Treasure Island
Geography and Climate
Formed as the result of intense volcanic activity beneath the ocean floor twelve million years ago, Fuerteventura surged up through the Atlantic Ocean to become the oldest island of the Canary Archipelago. It is almost the only place in the world where evidence of this ancient geographical upheaval can still be observed, due to the scarcity of vegetation. Volcanoes can be seen in their primordial state and remain uncovered in grass. Bathed in the warm sirocco winds from the Sahara the island is a haven to many plant and animal species of European and African origin. With over ten designated nature conversation areas, the fauna and flora of the island can be preserved. Apart from the aloe vera plant, used for health remedies and skin complaints, nothing can be cultivated with any degree of success. The climate is too arid and inhospitable: the five inches of rain that falls each year can hardly sustain grass let alone any viable crops. Tomatoes were grown until recently but even cultivation of these has now been abandoned.
Fuerteventura is not as mountainous as its more verdant neighbours: Tenerife and Gran Canaria. It therefore absorbs little moisture from passing clouds; the resulting barren landscape is either something you will love or hate. Don’t come here if you like greenery - most likely the only place you will find it is on a golf course!
The island is one of the most distant outposts of Europe; its terrain is more like that of Morocco which lies just 95km to the east. You can only describe it as a little piece of Africa in Europe. In fact Fuerteventura's original inhabitants are said to have come from Morocco and were mainly of Berber origin rather than of Spanish descent.
Tourist Information Video
What to do on the Island of Fuerteventura
If it's nightlife you're looking for, there are plenty of restaurants specialising in both Spanish and cosmopolitan cuisine and the usual selection of British and Irish pubs.
For those with an adventurous spirit who want to see more of the island's natural features you can visit most of the more desolate spots by hiring an off-road vehicle. Here dramatic sand dunes or ‘Jables’ as they are known 'travel' across the coastal roads and blow inland to give a desert-like appearance. You can have your photo taken standing next to the dunes (taking care not to include the hotel in the distance) and tell your friends back home you were lost in the desert.
With its vast expanses of unspoilt areas it’s easy to imagine a dinosaur or two plodding across the ancient arid, plains of Fuerteventura between volcanoes. These wild and remote places are a photographer's paradise despite the lack of greenery. Prehistoric rock formations take on a reddish orange hue as the sunlight plays upon them, breaking through the low early morning clouds. Then when the mists clear and the light grows brighter, the turquoise sea which is never far away becomes a vivid contrast to the perpetually shifting sands.
Fuerteventura boasts significantly more beaches than its neighbours and is proud host to the annual world wind-surfing championships. Naturalists, kite-fliers and sun-worshippers come here in their droves but are hardly noticeable on the never-ending stretches of sand.
If you are looking for a more energetic way to spend your time here there is scuba-diving, snorkelling and paragliding on offer.
Cars ran be ferried over to the neighbouring island of Lanzarote between Corralejo and Playa Blanca and a glass-bottomed catamaran sails regularly to and from Puerto Del Carmen, one of Lanzarote's most popular resorts. It is well worth the two hour journey for the boat trip alone. If you are lucky you might see dolphins and pilot whales as they swim gracefully through the Straits of Bocaina, between the two islands. An abundance of silver-scaled fishes can be seen from the viewing area below decks. You'll also have a chance to see the island of Lobos which is uninhabited and preserved as a nature sanctuary. Even without a car it's possible to get around Fuerteventura with relative ease. There is a reasonably priced and regular bus service connecting the major resorts and you can visit the main points of interest on a full-day coach trip.
Typical Canarian cuisine such as salty potatoes, tapas and goats cheese can be sampled at isolated restaurants in the mountains which command magnificent views down towards the coast.
Local handicrafts too can be found in these more remote areas, such as intricate lace-making which is sadly in decline but preserved for posterity in several thriving workshops and museums. Prices are perhaps a little higher than mainland Spain but that is countered by the fact that the discerning tourist will have ample opportunity to discover somewhere unique.
Fuerteventura has a great deal to offer the visitor, perhaps not as much as some of the better known Canary Islands, but with its dramatic landscape and wide open spaces it promises to deliver a unique holiday experience.
© 2016 Stella Kaye
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