on-line contest

What's New

Most Popular



FUERTEVENTURA, CANARY ISLANDS - BEACHES, SURF, DUNES AND ALOE VERA

Story and photos by

The name Fuerteventura means "high winds." They're not kidding, we thought as we chased our hats down a street on the second largest island in the Canary Archipelago.

Sandcastles on Corralejo Beach
Sandcastles on Corralejo Beach
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Surfers flock here, drawn by the wind-buffeted waves, kite schools and dry weather. Located just 115 kilometers (71 miles) west of the African coast, Fuerteventura averages 362 sunny days each year.

During its circuit of the Canary Islands, our Variety Cruises ship Harmony V took us to Corralejo on the north tip of the 1,700-square-kilometer (660-square-mile) island. Armas ferries depart from here to Playa Blanca, Lanzarote (crossing time: 25 minutes).

Miles of beaches

Colorful ceramic fish surrounded the marina, filled with sailboats, yachts and fishing boats. Whimsical sandcastles embellished the wide golden beaches bordering the harbor.

Corralejo's beaches are just a few of the beautiful stretches of sand lining the island's 340-kilometer (210-mile) coastline. With warm temperatures of 22-degrees C (72-degrees F), many strollers wore sandals and shorts even though it was mid-February.

Tourist Office

The Corralejo Tourist Office is located next to the bronze Monument to the Fisherman near the port. The helpful staff, who speak fluent English, gave us a map of the streets and the Old Town.

Corralejo Tourist Office and Monument to the Fisherman
Corralejo Tourist Office and Monument to the Fisherman
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Corralejo's outdoor cafés, seafood restaurants and pizzerias shelter patrons with see-through wind-blocks. Sitting outdoors to eat and people-watch is a favorite pastime.

So is strolling along the pedestrian walkway and sitting on park benches to soak up the sun and picturesque views. In 2009, UNESCO made the entire island of Fuerteventura a World Biosphere Reserve, because of its unspoiled beaches and scenic landscapes.

Corralejo Natural Park

Continuing our walk to Avenida Nuestra Señora del Carmen, we discovered the modern Las Palmeras shopping mall and a market in the parking lot by Acua Water Park. Open Tuesdays and Fridays, it's a good place to see local fruits, vegetables, flowers and Majorero cheese, made from goat milk in the Canary Islands.

Passing pretty yellow, white, pink and blue rental apartments, adorned with flowers, cacti and balconies, we reached Corralejo Natural Park. Nine kilometers (5.6 miles) long, its sand dunes and small shrubs extended for as far as our eyes could see.

Corralejo Natural Park
Corralejo Natural Park
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Fuerteventura tour

Passengers on the Harmony V can sign up for a four-hour tour of the island. It starts in the pretty village of Betancuria, the original capital of the aboriginal Kingdom of the Canary Islands and later, capital of Fuerteventura until 1834.

Aloe vera
Aloe vera
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

After viewing the arid volcanic landscape from Morro Velosa outlook, designed by César Manrique, participants visit an aloe vera factory. Visitors can cut open the succulent leaves, taste the pulp and sample numerous aloe vera products.

Aloe vera information

Some of the facts that we learned about the cultivation, harvesting and processing of the plant were surprising. For example, we learned that aloe vera is not a cactus, but a species of lily.

Although there are more than 300 species, the variety that grows in Fuerteventura is the Aloe Vera Barbalinsis Miller.

Aloe vera moisturizing cream
Aloe vera moisturizing cream
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Shops throughout Fuerteventura, as well as the factory, sell a wide variety of aloe vera creams, lotions, gels, soaps, shampoo and natural cosmetics.

The locals proudly note that Columbus, who stopped in the Canary Islands to stock his ship with supplies for his journey to the New World, included aloe vera in his provisions.

The tour ends at the dunes of Corralejo Natural Park. Hang on to your hats.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Contact GLP Worldwide for brochures, bookings and information about Variety Cruises Canary Islands trips.

More things to see & do in the Canary Islands:

Las Palmas Gran Canaria Tour to Teror and Santa Brigida

Valle Gran Rey Walking Tour - La Gomera, Canary Islands

La Laguna, Tenerife - Shore Excursion Walking Tour

La Gomera - San Sebastian, Garajonay and Mirador del Palmarejo

Los Cristianos Tenerife - Beaches, Marina and Restaurants