Last month I returned from a yoga holiday in Fuerteventura and felt it more than deserved a review as the place (as well as the yoga) helped heal my soul and soothe the mind. Often linked with cheap family holidays, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it but it was nothing short of beautiful. Golden drifts of sand blown in from the sahara, ripple towards the sparkling clear blue shore. Goats are herded across arid plains dotted with windmills. Moon like volcanic landscapes mimic the surface of the moon and the long-dead volcanoes pierce the cloudless sky.
Just 50 miles from Saharan Africa, the island of Fuerteventura has a breathtaking, barren beauty. Despite the volcanic terrain, it has some of the best beaches in the Canary Islands – miles and miles of largely deserted sand. Guaranteed sunshine and negligible rain make it a great year-round destination, and there is no time difference after the four-hour flight.
Resort development is restrained, compared with neighbouring islands, but there is still plenty to keep couples, families and water sports enthusiasts happy. Corralejo and Caleta de Fuste are favourites with the british but there are few big hotels with tourist preferring local apartment rentals, preserving the authentic look of the place.
The east coast offers safe swimming, while the wild, west coast is renowned for its surf breaks. There are sheltered coves in or around all the main resorts. On more exposed beaches, consistent trade winds produce world-class windsurfing conditions. If sunbathing becomes a little too bracing here, it is possible to pitch camp in the semi-circular, dry-stone wind shelters scattered along the shore. The island can be toured in a day and the excellent roads make driving easy. The parched interior is littered with interesting hamlets.
For the purposes of this piece I will concentrate on Correlejo as that was my base and it is a great base for travelling the whole island in terms of value, beauty and vibe. Although, travelling the whole island from here is more than possible.
This was the home of my yoga retreat and where I want to boast about the most. The lovely beaches and a wide range of hotels and restaurants make it the island’s largest resort, Corralejo is popular with British visitors.
I’ll be honest, the theme pubs and tatty gift shops of the brash main strip give a bad first impression. However, the restaurants, the majority being italian owned are all pretty good and there are lots of low priced supermarkets and regular markets to stock up on goods.
Off the main strip, around the old town harbour, you start to feel the true vibe of this hippy surfer town with the laid back pavement cafes and fish restaurants drawing couples and families alike. Yes there are some rowdy people as they are on holiday and with beer at only one euro and great wine at 2 euros a glass, people will indulge. However, groups of rowdy friends are noticeably absent as this isn’t a place of fishbowls and shots, keeping the laid back vibe going.
The sea waters is great for paddling but the waves mean this spot is a favourite for surfers so be wary and bring rock shoes to protect your feet. The sand dunes of the coastline are beautiful and you will feel like Lawrence of Arabia as you sit and look out to the sea. I also recommend viewing the strange rock formations and abundant bird life of the tiny isle of Lobos- a 20-minute boat-ride away.
Correlejo is safe and peaceful. I spent many hours sitting on the beach with a book or writing and I was left alone. Everyone I met was friendly and inclusive which made my heart feel good.
Where to eat
Vivi Pizza – Victor Grau Bassas, 4 | Frente Policia for truly amazing italian pizza
Sanus – great vegan and veggie place that serves up delicious healthy choices
Gildas – Calle Delfin esquina Mari y Miguelin Morera, Frente hotel Avanti, 35660, Corralejo – Both this and their sister restaurant offer the BEST tapas in town
Rompeolas – Calle Delfin 1, Muelle Chico, 35660, Corralejo – Best fish restaurant overlooking the sea and much more upmarket for a special dinner.
What to do
Lobos Lobos is a haven for ramblers and birdwatchers: well-marked trails lead to the summit of an extinct volcano, cacti flourish in an almost lunar landscape and the cliffs support seabird colonies. The main beach is a crescent of white sand. There is no shade, so take a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. If you want to try snorkelling then this is the place as there are Rays, parrot fish, barracuda and much more. Dolphins are also spotted in the waters. A circuit of the island takes three hours. Take a picnic, or reserve lunch on arrival. El Puertito Restaurant, among the fishermen’s huts, has astonishing views across the bay.
Corralejo has dive sites to suit both novice and master. Expect to see sea urchins, anemones and plenty of colourful fish among the volcanic rocks. Dive Center Corralejo (928 535906, www.divecentercorralejo.com) offers single dives from £29.20 (including kit).
This is the perfect place to learn to surf and many people come from all round the world to do so as it’s so cheap for lessons. www.quiksilversurfschoolfuerteventura.com offers a six day course for £200
Yoga www.azulfit.com offer daily beach yoga 8-9am. It was wonderful saluting the sun as it rose – just £10 a lesson
Other places in Fuerteventura
El Cotillo This sleepy, west-coast village is an atmospheric place that remains largely untouched by tourism. A stubby fort guards the harbour where fishermen tend their nets. Camper vans in the sun-bleached backstreets hint at the surf beaches to the south. The main draw is the lagoons – a group of pristine sandy coves just north of the village – where locals go to sunbathe and swim.
La Oliva This hamlet, 15 minutes inland from Corralejo, was once the island’s capital. The grand houses are crumbling but you can imagine their beauty years ago. The 18th-century church has unusual décor and houses a collection of contemporary painting and sculpture in a converted house and cool underground gallery.
Caleta de Fuste – This purpose-built resort is a 10-minute drive south of the airport. Inland, the road climbs through a desolate landscape of rust-red plains and high mountain ridges to tiny settlements with whitewashed churches and pockets of palms. Working museums demonstrate agricultural practices and the island’s arts and crafts.
Lets be honest, this isn’t a soul soothing place and is popular with families wanting a bit of action – camel rides on the beach, screaming kids in the shallow waters etc. Although it lacks the atmosphere of resorts with fishing village origins, it has excellent facilities (if that’s what you’re after) in the form of shopping malls with bars and restaurants.
English is the predominant language here and there are more family groups than in Corralejo.
Sotavento – The island’s most dazzling beach has a tidal lagoon and stretches for 13 miles along the south-east coast. The International Windsurfing Championships are held here in July. Sun worshippers may prefer the more sheltered charms of Jandia.
Jandia – This pretty resort grew up around the fishing village of Morro Jable. Sealed roads end here and a four-wheel drive is needed to explore the wild tip of the Jandia Peninsula.
Jandia beach, a glorious two-mile swathe of white sand, is backed by a broad promenade. The hotels and bars of the new development merge with the narrow streets of Morro Jable to the south. A lighthouse dominates the quiet, north end of the beach. Lifeguards patrol the sand and there are banks of sun-loungers and several beach cafes.
I flew with Ryanair and Thomas Cook, costing £110 return in June. Fuerteventura is accessible from most UK airports and there are plenty of transfer companies i.e. www.hoppa.com to take you where you need to go.
I don’t drive so was reliant on the kindness of others, local buses and tours to get around the island but I recommend hiring a car even for just one day to get around the remote spots. Avis (0870 010 0287, www.avis.co.uk), Hertz (0870 844 8844, www.hertz.co.uk), Europcar (0870 607 5000, www.europcar.co.uk) and Suncars (0870 500 5566, www.suncars.co.uk) all have rental agents at the island’s airport, as does Cicar (928 86 05 77, www.cicar.com), a local company.
Food and drink
The excellent fish and seafood is often accompanied by papas arrugadas – wrinkly potatoes – and mojo – a piquant chilli sauce. Other Canarian specialities include kid goat in every imaginable culinary guise, and a hearty chickpea stew thickened with gofio. Majorero is the island’s award-winning goat’s cheese. Oh and the wine, even the cheapest Rioja is divine and cheap – it would be rude not to try it right?
The website www.fuerteventura.com has lots of useful information.