While there are several world destinations that make for an ideal November holiday, we have singled out Fuerteventura, Spain, for your bit of sunshine before that start of the festive season. And we have some superb, exotic reasons for that!
The sparsely populated, unspoiled island of the Canary Archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, Fuerteventura, politically a part of Spain, is located about a hundred kilometers off the African coast. It is the second largest among the Canary Islands behind Tenerife and a UNESCO declared biosphere reserve since May 2009.
The Quality Coast International Certification Program of the European Coastal and the Marine Union has certified the island as one of the most attractive cultural heritage, environment, and sustainability tourist destinations among 500 European locations.
With a pleasantly moderate climate all through the year, its nickname “the Island of Eternal Spring” fits like a glove.
However, there are times when a Sahara sandstorm known as “Calima” can blow in from the world’s largest desert, causing high temperatures, dry air, and diminished visibility bringing along with it fine red dust and sometimes even locusts.
The island’s wildlife comprises two surviving populations of the endangered Canarian Egyptian Vulture as well as wild dogs and cats. It is also home to Barbary ground squirrels, geckos, collared doves and several finch species.
So, let’s begin our exploration of this magnificent island from its capital Puerto Del Rosario
Puerto Del Rosario
Puerto Del Rosario was founded as a port in 1797, slowly gaining prominence as the central gateway to the island with increasing marine traffic and a growing population of settlers.
The place has witnessed several changes since the 1980s, all for the better, with historic buildings having been restored and a promenade created and sculptures and fountains installed to adorn the island’s seat of power. Administrative buildings are located near the City Park and palm-lined streets.
Puerto Del Rosario’s white and darkish gray neo-colonial style main church is dedicated to the Madonna of the Rosary.
In the extreme north of Fuerteventura is the ferry port and bustling holiday resort of Corralejo with a well maintained and much frequented seaside promenade.
A large scenic marina is indicative of the fact that it is the second home to many from the Spanish mainland.
This urban coastline, punctuated by small sandy beaches with colorful parasols, does not only afford great relaxation spots but have much to offer in terms of adventure as well. Practically all watersports are popular here, right from surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing to swimming and diving, not to forget sailing and fishing.
Parque Natural de Corralejo
Located northeast of the island, the Corralejo Natural Park is the best place to marvel at the largest dune landscape in the Canaries, its white sands directly meeting the turquoise waters of the Atlantic. In dramatic but harmonious contrast is the red and ochre volcanic landscape to the south.
The park can be reached via the FV-1 road which passes the national park between the capital Puerto del Rosario and the town of Corralejo.
You can enjoy the fabulous beaches on the dune side of the sprawling park or make use of your walking boots, climbing Montaña Roja (Red Mountain) in the volcanic landscape south of the park, offering picture-perfect views of Lanzarote and La Graciosa across the water.
Located on a plain surrounded by volcanic cones in the Las Palmas Province of Canary Islands, La Oliva is home to the most important building in the island’s history – the Casa de los Coroneles, the stately residence of the island’s commander back in the day. It was owned by the Bettendorf family and boasts a fine patio and a wooden gallery.
Another striking feature of the town, which served as the capital of Fuerteventura for 25 years starting 1835, is the gleaming white church with a dark stone tower.
Montaña de Tindaya
Not far away is the holy volcanic rock mountain of the ancient inhabitants of the island – the Montaigne Tindaya.
The potsherds and footprint images carved into the rock on the mountain’s summit tell the story of ritual acts that were performed at the site in times gone by.
Puerto Lajas is one of the several small fishing villages with little infrastructure along the northern coast, where time seems to have stood still in a nostalgic kind of way.
It is a peaceful, unspoiled area with a few stone houses lining a black sandy beach with a number of traditional fishing boats constantly preparing for a night at sea.
Tourist activity is almost non-existent here.
Ecomuseo La Alcogida
Ecomuseo La Alcogida is an open-air farm museum in Tefia, near Puerto del Rosario, consisting of seven old farmhouses with their original tools and agricultural equipment highlighting the region’s traditional country life.
The village, which was inhabited until as recently as the 1970s, was restored in the 1990s and the farmhouses named after their original owners.
The museum boasts a bakery specializing in aniseed bread, a pottery, a carpenter, and an embroiderer. It is also home to a number of farm animals.
Antigua – The historic town of windmills
Located on the flat geographical center of Fuerteventura, Antigua’s historic and artistic heritage is evident in its architecture. The defining feature of the town, however, is the remains of many windmills, a testament to its agricultural past.
A not-to-be-missed attraction of the town is the Windmill Museum of Antigua which demonstrates how grain was milled in times gone by.
Another must-see is the traditional mansions that once belonged to wealthy families such as the Casona del Portón.
Salinas del Carmen
On the east coast of Fuerteventura, a few minutes’ drive from the Caleta de Fuste hotels, you will find the fishing village of Salinas del Carmen famous for its Salt Museum.
And as the proof of the pudding is in eating it, the proof of the village’s fishing legacy is in tasting the catch of the day served from noon onwards at the Caracolitos restaurant.
The best time to see Salinas del Carmen in all its modest glory is early in the morning, just after sunrise, when the village, with its simple fishermen’s houses and the small church at the edge of the village, is bathed in a mesmerizing golden glow worthy of many pictures to relive the experience again and again.
Of course, the must-see attraction at Salinas del Carmen is the Museo de la Sal or the Salt Museum. Dating back to the early twentieth-century saltpans were the cost-effective way of mining salt to cater to the demand of the local fish processing plant.
With the closure of the plant – the biggest buyer of the salt – went the demand for the salt forcing the authorities to convert the salt pans into a museum maintained by the income it generates.
True to its name which means “black well,” Pozo Negro is a tiny, sleepy fishing village in a dark, gravelly bay surrounded by a sparse hilly landscape, some twenty minutes by car from Caleta de Fuste.
Tranquil in its remoteness, away from the crowds of holidaymakers, Pozo Negro’s main draws are the two small restaurants known for their fantastic culinary specialties and a pedal board view of the local fisherman at work in the dreamy surroundings.
Located in the valley of Pozo Negro, in the east-central region of Fuerteventura, is the archaeological site of La Atalayita dating back to the time of the Mahos natives.
To most, it will appear as a barren godforsaken place but not to history lovers, who are sure to enjoy the archaeological treasures the place has to offer.
Here archaeologists have reconstructed Igloo-like pre-Hispanic buildings made of boulders of lava quarried from the adjacent lava fields.
The surroundings are covered with archaeological findings, mainly shards of decorated pottery, stone tools, and skeletal remains of Stone Age inhabitants.
La Lajita Oasis Park
Situated between Tarajalejo and Costa Calma is the town of La Lajita, most famous for its pride and joy, the Oasis Park, home to a botanical garden and the only zoo on the island of Fuerteventura.
It is also the only zoo in the entire Canary Archipelago with hippos and African elephants among its other inhabitants which include lemurs, giraffes, flamingos, and various species of reptiles.
A Camel Safari is the best way to witness the wild animals up close as it travels from the top of a mountain into the heart of the 200,000 sq meter park.
The park also boasts several shows, including an interactive show with snakes and crocodiles where visitors are allowed supervised petting of reptiles and amphibians; an endearing parrot show; an amazing bird of prey exhibition; and an entertaining sea lion show.
In a protective hollow surrounded by mountains in the Province of Las Palmas in southwest Fuerteventura, is the tranquil town of Pájara with its magnificent Nuestra Señora de Regla Church and Mexican portal.
At the end of the 16th century, the area became prosperous because of its fertile soil conducive to the cultivation of tomatoes and potatoes.
Once home to one of the most important ports on the island, Ajuy is a small fishing village on the wild west coast of Fuerteventura where visitors come from different parts of the island to enjoy the black beach, the nearby caves, and last but by no means the least, the famous fish restaurants.
Mirador De Morro
Mirador De Morro is situated between Valle de Santa Inés and Betancuria at an elevation of about 650 meters above sea level. It is the best vantage point on the island offering some of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring views, provided the weather allows for good visibility.