Travel Guide 2021
But also “Fuerte” is by no means flat as a flounder. To get a panoramic view, one should make an effort to the Betancuria massif with the peak of Montana Tegú. The view from the Mirador de Morro Velosa is unique. Long beach walks and recently also tours on great bike paths are a hit on Fuerteventura.
Fuerteventura – the “Sun Queen
The question is always the same: What does the holidaymaker need for a carefree beach holiday? The answer can be found on the Canary Island Fuerteventura: the blue sea, an endless sandy beach and of course sunshine galore! It is said of “Fuerte” that it is the “mistress of the Sahara”. There are undoubtedly good reasons for this, as the second largest island in the archipelago lies just 95 kilometres off the African coast. Every now and then, the sun hides behind a reddish-grey veil on Fuerteventura. Then the locals speak of the “Calima” and know that the hot storm is a temporary phenomenon and the pinprick massage the other day is a thing of the past. Fuerteventura is three things: steppe, desert and beach.
The unwilling spirit of a philosopher
This island is not a green paradise like many others in the archipelago on the threshold of Africa. It is rather characterised by its brittle charm, but those who walk along the beach with open eyes, enjoy the pretty little villages or are on the way on the beautiful new cycle paths, will see this island with completely different eyes than the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno once did. He described Fuerteventura around 1900 as a “naked, barren land of nothing but bones…” Now we know that the Basque was an unwilling and indomitable spirit and that in those days the military dictator Primo de Rivera exiled him to Fuerteventura because of a newspaper article.
Donkeys and oxen populated the streets
Miguel de Unamuno was already an old man when he was banished to Fuerteventura. He experienced the island as a lonely island, far away from any civilisation. Only about 7000 people were at home here, and the capital Puerto del Rosario was then called Puerto de Cabras – the port of the goats.
Donkeys, oxen, mules and dromedaries alone populated the streets, on which otherwise only water carriers were on the move, supplying the houses of the small town with cool water from the well. At the foot of the Montana Quemada, a monument was erected to Unamuno. Today, most tourists drive past this narrow statue carelessly. Unamuno managed to escape and spent the last years of his life in exile in Paris.
On the back of a dromedary across the beach
The “goat port” of yesteryear became a vibrant tourist stronghold in the 20th century – but dromedaries still exist on Fuerteventura. In former times they were used as beasts of burden on the barren fields and pulled the wooden ploughs. The animals from Africa were also very popular on the island because the volcanic soil there is often soft and because the dromedaries had no problems as callouses in the fields. But today, the “desert ships” are actually only seen where they are on excursions with holidaymakers. Rides over the beach of La Lajita are a wobbly and somewhat adventurous pleasure.
On “Fuerte” the air tastes of salt
Not only sensitive minds feel it very soon after arriving on Fuerteventura: here, the air tastes like salt, and if the hot wind tugs at the hairstyle, then there is no doubt: one has arrived on an unusual island. But one should not be deceived by the first look, as this island of the Canarian Islands is by no means hostile or even inhospitable.
Indeed, in some regions, there is practically nothing where the view up to the horizon finds a stopping point, but also the monotony finds here its end station: everywhere, where after the emptiness some green palms rise and where in the small villages there are pleasant hotels and inviting restaurants. Here man has put a stop to the impending apocalypse and given the eye the colour “green”.
In the morning the dunes are like freshly blow-dried
But Fuerteventura is first and foremost an island of beachcombers. It is the “sun queen” of the archipelago off the African continent. With a total of fifty kilometres of beaches, it is no wonder that many sun worshippers have chosen this island as one of their favourite destinations.
The sand there is fine. Sometimes it is pitch black, like the lava flows from the volcanoes. And then it presents itself golden yellow. When there is more than a light breeze, many stretches of beach look in the morning as if many hard-working helpers had raked the sand during the night. And behind the freshly blow-dried dunes, the sea beckons with crystal-clear water. Also families with their children find here their bathing El-Dorado, as the beach slopes almost everywhere shallowly to the sea.
Riddle about the meaning of the island name
There are numerous attempts to explain the meaning of the name “Fuerteventura”. The fact is that “Fuerte” in the Spanish language means something like “strong”. For a long time, linguists held the thesis that only the strong wind on the island could be an explanation. However, old nautical charts from the 14th century mentioned Forte Ventura. Some researchers have spread the opinion that the Guanches gave this name to their home. But until today, there is no final clarity about the origin of Fuerteventura.
The great view into the night sky
Today, not only sun worshippers travel to Fuerteventura but also stargazers. For this, one does not need huge observatories like on the Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma. On this island, one is content with a simple hut. It is located at the viewpoint Morro Velosa not far from the city of Betancuria and opens from the mountain Tegú an excellent view into the night sky. UNESCO has even designated this place as a “Light Sanctuary”.
Among the two million or so tourists who arrive at the airport every year, there are always amateur astronomers who don’t miss the chance to look out for the stars at 28 degrees north of the equator. But also some hotel managers have installed telescopes on the roofs of their houses or they offer night excursions to their guests.
Cueva del Llano – a view into the underworld
Beside the view to the stars, Fuerteventura also offers excursions into the underworld. The Cueva del Llano is a cave created by a lava flow near the village of Lajares. It has always been known on the island that it is equally appreciated by geologists and ecologists, but for a long time, the Spanish military stood in the way of a touristical use. Because the cave was alienated as a warehouse for explosives.
The lava tube has a length of approximately 650 metres and was apparently already populated many hundreds of years ago, as archaeologists found here traces of the Majoreros, who lived there long before the birth of Christ, developed their own culture and were only exterminated under the rule of the Crown of Castile.
The Rock Maiden in the “Valley of the Palms
One of the most interesting destinations for an excursion from the beaches of Fuerteventura into the interior is the natural experience in the Barranco de la Pena. The “Valley of the Palms” is the one with the most water on the otherwise rather dry island. Here, the farmers have painstakingly created terraces on which potatoes and numerous vegetables now grow.
A small stream is the giver of all life. A beautiful hike touches the small village of Vega de Rio Palmas with the rock maiden in the pilgrimage church of Nuestra Senora de la Pena. Every third weekend in September, a procession takes place here, carrying the statue of the Virgin from the church to a chapel.
Forget time and space when walking along the beach
The cliché of overcrowded beaches can only be smiled at in Fuerteventura. Those who are looking for solitude on this Canarian island will find it between the towering dunes and the Atlantic Ocean. Some beach sections can only be reached via bumpy paths, but almost every detour from the main roads is worth it.
The sea never gets colder than 17 degrees all year round, and anyone walking across the expansive Playa de Corrajejo will forget time and space. This is not the world of the hustle and bustle but of the romantics. Specially in the south of Fuerteventura, one will search in vain for a lively nightlife. The more lively places of tourism are without exception located near the airport north of the capital Puerto del Rosario.
Jean de Bethencourt – Ruler of the Canary Islands
Betancuria is always praised as the most beautiful place of the island. It is located at the geographical centre of Fuerteventura and bears the name of the Norman conqueror Jean de Bethencourt, who founded this place in 1405. The French nobleman had been declared ruler of the Canary Islands by the Castilian King Henry III. The mighty cathedral of Santa Maria in Betancuria was destroyed several times – among others by pirates – but always rebuilt.
Today it presents itself in the Norman-Gothic style and has an underground ravine that connects the church with a gorge. Over time, many inhabitants left the place, which is now a kind of open-air museum. In this central mountainous area of the island, rainfall is more frequent.
The biggest windsurfing school in the world
The best surfers in the world meet every now and then in front of Fuerteventura. This is a hotspot for this type of water sport, as the constant wind provides the surfers with excellent conditions. This is especially true for Sotavento on the south coast, where kitesurfers also gather. At Playa Barca, in front of the “Hotel Sol Gorrones”, the Swiss René Egli opened a windsurfing school in 1984. He started with twenty boards and today runs the world’s largest surf school. Also very popular as surfing spots are the sections at Flag Beach and Glass Beach in the north near Corralecho, because there the wind almost always blows “sideonshore”.
Cofete – where all roads on “Fuerte” end
One of the most extreme retreats on Fuerteventura is at the windy southwest tip. In Cofete, apart from the thunder of the waves and the howling of the wind, there are only many goats and exactly fifteen inhabitants. There are no shops and only one small restaurant. Here, the few people who have chosen to live in this isolation are alone with themselves and the sea.
Unless a holidaymaker actually gets lost in this area. This is also where all sat nav connections end, and Cofete has not been on any official map since 1960. Nevertheless, the place got some street lamps some time ago, about which the locals were very surprised. This all adds to the magic of this unusual island.
At the end of the world – Cofete and the loneliness
At the wooden tables of Cofete’s restaurant, a few residents are spooning on their fish soup or studying the notes on the counter with sayings from holidaymakers who have made it this far. The somewhat tattered menu tells us that they also serve goat meat. A few metres away, on the beach, turtles are released into the wild from time to time from the breeding station in Morro Jable.
If you talk to the few inhabitants of this lonely village, you get the impression that everybody feels comfortable here. Perhaps also because they are convinced that they live in a place that is like other places would like to be: Full of magic and urban romance.