Declared a "biosphere reserve” by UNESCO in 2009, Fuerteventura’s pleasures are mostly natural: stunning beaches, beautiful mountains, sunshine, and warm hospitality … even for the smallest among us. Julia Smile reports on her family’s experience on this island of simple pleasures.
When it’s cold and rainy and the days are getting shorter and shorter at home, there is still a place, only a few hours flight away, where you can take off the bulky clothes, jump into the ocean and get a tan: Fuerteventura, the Canary Island where nature takes center stage.
Getting there and Getting Around
There are direct 5-hour flights from Schiphol to Fuerteventura (ideally they will coincide with little ones’ nap times).
Fuerteventura cannot boast a well-developed transport system, but it's very cheap to rent a car. Having done some research online, we picked Autoreisen and it was perfect – no queue at the airport (unlike the others) can mean so much when traveling with kids.
As for driving on Fuerteventura, it’s pretty simple: there is one main 'highway' – all the other roads are dirt! Our sedan did the job well, but be aware that to reach some of the island’s remote beaches you may need a 4-wheel drive.
Fuerteventura is not a big island – 100km long and 31km wide. If you stay more or less in the middle, both ends are easily reachable by car; there is no need to relocate mid-trip in order to see the whole island. We rented an apartment in Costa Calma, a calm and secluded place, with a windsurfing school at the beach, and were very pleased.
As one would expect on an island, seafood is a staple of Fuerteventuran cuisine; another common item was goat (cabra), usually roasted or stewed. Both of these are usually served with "canary potatoes": small wrinkled looking potatoes boiled and served with mojo picón. Paella is also very popular and our favorite restaurant, El Caletón at the Faro de Punto Jandia, served huge ones!
Having said that, there is plenty of chicken, pork, local cheeses, stews, omelets – something for everyone in the family. The food is tasty and the service is as friendly and patient as can be, especially as we occasionally needed extra time to find those toddler-friendly items.
Be aware that most restaurants are closed during "siesta" time, so be sure to check the opening hours in advance.
Many of Fuerteventura’s beaches have fine white sand and shallow, safe areas for small ones to swim. Indeed from day one our toddler loved to jump in the waves, and to play with the sand and stones. You, on the other hand, may well jump out of it as quickly as you jump in, because the water, while warmer than the North Sea during the summer, is not quite tropical.
Be aware that on many beaches there is no shade: don't forget sunscreen, hats, and/or cover-ups. In the evening it gets quite chilly at the beach, so be sure to take some additional layers if you plan to stay a bit later.
Morro Jable beach Playa del Matorral is a huge beach with an open-air museum that is like an oasis. Its only exhibit is the skeleton of a sperm whale, stranded on one of the beaches of Fuerteventura and monumentalized here. Your kids (and you) will be awestruck.
Corralejo is a popular tourist town and beach with dunes.The dunes are beautiful, fun to romp around in, and the soft, fine, white sand feels pleasant underfoot. To protect themselves from the strong winds prevalent here, people dig holes in the sand and lie in their little cubby. We were lucky enough to find a natural little hill behind which it was quiet and warm.
Faro de Punto Jandia is the southernmost point of the island, also very windy but very beautiful. Definitely worth a visit for its natural beauty and superb restaurants – including our favorite (see above)!
Fuerteventura is not only about beaches. You can get some beautiful views from the mountains too.
Pico de la Zazra: If you have older kids or teens, hike to the highest peak of the island (807 m) and view Cofete Beach from above. Stunning views and quite an easy hike, 2,5 hour up and 1,5 down. If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, a backpack carrier can be a perfect solution – they usually have a big pocket under the baby seat where your essentials can be carried. Pack a lunch and make a day of it!
There are many possibilities to explore by boat – whale and dolphin spotting, glass bottomed tours of marine life, catamaran cruises, or excursions to the pristine island of Lobos for hours of adventure. Many resorts run their own tours, but Oceanarium Explorer and Isla Lobos are a couple of non-resort options if you long to get off the island for a while.
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Julia Smile is an expat mother who is traveling with her family and writing about these exciting experiences in her blog. Her other passions include reading and dancing. You can find more about Julia and her family travels at her blog frogsinthebox.com. This article is based on a post found there.