Surrounded by sea, with more than 150 excellent beaches - some of which are the longest in the Atlantic - and with an interior of rolling plains and hills Fuerteventura offers a wide range of activity-based vacations for both individuals and families.
The volcanic mass of Fuerteventura rises sheer from the sea bottom which in places is more than 1 kilometre (3,300 feet) deep. With a water temperature ranging from 16 to 25 degrees centigrade and visibility up to 50 metres ( 150 feet) the island has some of the best diving conditions in the archipelago and there are many dive spots suitable for both beginners and advanced divers. Well equipped dive centres and schools in the main centres of Corralejo, Caleta de Fuste and Jandia offer PADI training courses in a variety of languages – including Japanese.
The underwater landscapes of lava sculpted into fantastic shapes, with caves, grottoes and sandy stretches teem with fish. Barracuda, Parrot fish, squid and octopus are amongst the many species that can be seen in the clear waters – and on drift dives the lava walls encrusted with corals and anemones are a perfect habitat for large moray eels and groupers. The Isla de los Lobos, a protected natural area surrounded by shallow clear water is a popular diving area just off the town of Corralejo. Spotted rays, dolphins, pilot whales and hammerhead sharks are often sighted here. On the rugged west coast large underwater caves and overhangs in the volcanic rock provide some of the best diving on the island, but this area, with strong currents and high seas, is for the experienced diver only.
The many beaches on the east coast and some of the sheltered rocky coves of the north coast are ideal for snorkelling. In the rocky pools and lagoons water temperatures can rise to 25 degrees, and with the clear visibility, bright colours and many fish species divers compare snorkelling Fuerteventura favourably with the Caribbean. Islanders often carry fins and a mask in their cars as a matter of course, sometimes catching octopus and squid ( only on Saturdays and Sundays in controlled areas) for the weekend paella. Moray eels, grouper, squid, octopus, brightly coloured star fish, and the ubiquitous parrot fish are a common sight for snorkelers around the island.
The northern coast of the island close to Corralejo and the pretty village of Cotillo has some of the best and crispest waves of the Atlantic. The warm waters mean that lightweight wetsuits are sufficient– although some hardier souls surf in Bermuda shorts. Surf schools offer courses for beginners in the safe waters off the shallow shelving beaches where beginners can hone their skills before venturing out to take on the bigger rollers. A good wave is more or less guaranteed year round – although the best and biggest are in autumn and winter. There are some long rides available – one of the favourites being to catch a wave of the northern side of the Isla de los Lobos and to ride it for the entire length of the island. It does entail though a long walk or paddle back up the coast!
Wind and kite surfing
The eastern coast of the island, with strong north easterly trade winds has the perfect combination for kite and wind surfing, for both expert and beginner. The Playa Sotavento at Costa Calma on the southern end of the island is world renowned for its three kilometre long lagoon and strong winds which funnel through a gap in the ridge onto the beach. World windsurf and kite championships are held here every year, but the well equipped centre provides courses and equipment for all levels of experience, and the beach has lifeguards in attendance every day.
In the north of the island the shallow shelving beaches at Corralejo beneath the sand dunes are also popular with wind surfers and kite riders.
Beach and deep water fishing is very popular in the island. Casting off the beaches and rocky coastline fishermen regularly catch barracuda and sea bass, and local people, using live crabs as bait often bring in fine parrot fish known locally as La Vieja. The deep waters off the island are a favourite amongst game fishermen, with big marlin, swordfish, tuna, bonito and wahoo being landed during the game fishing season which runs from April to November. Fishing trips from boats can be arranged at most of the marinas along the east coast.
Walking is growing in popularity throughout the island, and a series of marked paths are now being planned, which will enable walkers to trek from one end of the island to other – a week long walk of more than 155 kms ( 100 miles). The plains and hills are crisscrossed with ancient paths, so best walk with a guide if possible. There are several walking companies which offer guided walks through some of the most beautiful parts of the islands, from the dunes of Corralejo to the rugged high volcanic cliffs above the wild and beautiful Cofete beach in the south. In the middle of the island a popular trek takes walkers through the old historic town of Betancuria – the first European settlement in the Atlantic – along a green valley watered by distinctive windmills of the 1930s introduced to the island by returning immigrants from the USA. Close by, in the pretty village of Vega de Río de Palmas, a path leads to a rocky ravine where the tiny chapel to the Virgen de la Peña is perched on the side of a rocky ravine. Her saint’s day in September is celebrated with a Romeria or procession which draws islanders from all over Fuerteventura. Other walks in the south take trekkers up from the beach of Cofete to the lofty mist shrouded peak of Mount Jandia, at 807 metres the highest on the island. The historic volcanic core of Tindaya near La Oliva has excellent views to Lanazarote, and sometimes even Mount Teide on distant Tenerife. Here, the distinctive podomorphs – foot-shaped carvings left by the original settlers on the island more than a thousand years ago can be found on the summit. Walkers must have a permission from the Environmental Agency (Medio Ambiente) and have to be accompanied by a park guard.
With good empty roads, guaranteed sunshine and few steep gradients , cycling is a poplar activity for visitors and islanders alike. Bikes can be hired from the major centres in Morro Jable, and Corralejo, and recently opened dedicated cycle and mountain bike tracks lead to most of the island’s most spectacular locations. Cycle hire companies usually arrange day rides, taking riders to interior locations for downhill rides to the coast. Most rides end on the beach, or follow the coast so that cyclists can always have a cooling dip during the day. A very popular 25 kilometre ride runs from Corralejo to Cotillo on a dedicated cycle track above by rocky coves and deserted beaches on of the most beautiful parts of the northern coast.
A stable near the central village of Triquivajate offers riding on the island and caters for beginners and more experienced riders. With wide open unfenced terrain and little or no traffic to be encountered on the inland country tracks and roads, conditions are ideal. Once a month riders go out for 6 hour rides across the rocky plains by the light of the full moon.