Saturday, 13 January 2018

Fuertaeventura.....Everything feels better under the sun

One of the many beaches along the coastline 
When the temperatures were struggling this December end, heading off to this sunny paradise felt like a blessing.  Fuertaeventura - as its exotic name suggests is one of the biggest Grand Canary islands. With its all year round sunshine and superb beaches, it is a sure hit among UK tourists - evident from all the tanned faces and bodies that accompanied us back on the UK flight.

The place though ruled by Spain is nearer to Africa (about 100 km away). In an attempt to boost its tourism potential, it houses cosmopolitan pockets like El Cortillo, Caleta de Fauste - a haven for tourists with great food, shopping options and accommodation - all a towel's throw from the beach.

However we preferred staying inland in Betancuria - a historic town on the island. A fairly quiet place with some fantastic mountain views, yet close enough to the nearby major town of Antigua.

The picture postcard town of Betancuria with its beautiful market square was a treat for the eyes. Steeped in history, it has a centuries old convent that draws a lot of tourists. What we liked is its market square and with its enticing shops - enough to keep you there for a good while.

We spent a week on the island and realised it had something for everyone. For those wanting to lie on the beach there is plenty to choose from, boisterous ones like Caleta de Fauste or La Pared, or quieter ones like the El Cotillo with lagoons, ideal for kids.

For those seeking more than the beaches, there are hiking trails and viewing platforms from where you get a breathtaking view of the island. Places like Morras De Valles is a steep, winding drive right up the top of the hill. It is worth it though, you can enjoy the view while sipping a cuppa at their hilltop cafe.

We enjoyed a few hikes on this island. Mountain Tindaya, Corran Mountain are some that we loved. The slopes are rocky and not steep. It made it easier for the younger ones in the group and they had a great time scaling it.

The northern part of the island, Correljo, has some picturesque sand dunes. The weather was friendly - hot with a cool breeze and it felt great walking on it, feeling our feet sink into the sand.

Apparently, there was camel riding and other activities, but it felt so good to be there, away from the cold, damp English winter that we spent an afternoon just walking around and capturing its beauty on lens.

There was a salt museum which explained the history and how salt made its way from the sea onto our kitchen shelves. An enlightening experience for our kids who assumed that were made in supermarkets! The only downside was that the entire display and the video was in Spanish, leaving us English speaking tourists flummoxed. The pics made sense, but a translation would have been more helpful. The kids were fascinated by what they saw - how salt was caught in these square pools of water and then taken out in the ledges that separated the pool. It was funny watching their faces crinkle when they tasted it in its raw form! 

Considering that the population is more concentrated in the coastline, the roads that run through the island are in amazing condition, making it easier to get across the  length and breath of the island. We made good use of the maps given out at the airport. Each day, we would pick a point of interest and just drive - stopping for pictures on the way. The island is littered with beautiful places tucked away. The joy of its discovery was nothing short of a treasure hunt!

One place we really liked was the Sica Sumbre astronomical viewpoint that offered a viewing platform lined up with information boards.

It was packed with information about the planetary positions and also gave an insight into the origins of its nearby town of Betancuria. It was a good walk, climbing up the slopes of the Mountain while taking in the beauty of the valley. 

One of my favourite places on the island was the Caves of Ajuy, a small fishing village located about 7 km away from Pajara. We loved walking along the coastline, exploring the limestone caves and its natural beauty. The caves made through natural formation of the waves hitting the shore are a sight to behold and there are good constructed paths alongside that makes it possible to get to the caves easily and safely.
We spent time just looking at the waves lashing at the shore, collecting stones and snapping pics for souvenirs.

It was great spending a week on the island exploring these natural gems, and thanks to kids - it was always rounded with a trip to the beach. It felt good going back to our accommodation at the end of each day - learning about the island that bit more.

Despite signs of recession - with its half finished buildings and graffiti near the big towns, - it had an unspoilt feel to it or atleast the non commercial parts of it.

There were a quite few lighthouses to explore on the island. Since a young member of the group was keen on going to one, we visited the one pictured above, on the northern part of the island near Corralejo. Although we couldn't get in, it had a great trail around it, well marked with its geological and marine information boards as we walked along, collecting rocks on the way.

Any trip to the beach is incomplete without its sand castles. My five year old boy was more interested in building one while the others chose to go for a dip in one of the beaches in Calata de Fauste. By the time they returned, he was ready with his work of art. He was very proud of it and was reluctant to leave it behind. This picture is his souvenir from the island.

What we realised:
  • This island is not all about its beaches, there are lots of places to explore. 
  • Although we hired a car, public transport is available to get around the island.
  • Go hiking with sensible shoes and lots of water and you will be rewarded with some fantastic mountain views.  
  • The people are very friendly and the local language is Spanish. Google helped us vegetarians a lot especially when it was tricky to tell if a food product had meat/fish in it.
  • Although the temperatures were mild, we found that it could get breezy too. One needed a hoodie/cardigan at times especially if staying in the valley.
  • Apart from the main touristy bits, it is a sleepy island with not much happening even on some inner mountain roads. We are not sure if that was due to its sparse population or because of New Year period. It made our life easier though...zooming past towns without worrying about traffic snarls. 

Sun, beach and downtime in the middle of winter - superb!

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