Meet Jack; my boyfriend and Fuerteventura fanatic! Having shared many of his holiday stories with me over the course of the last year, Jack has put the Canary Island of Fuerteventura on my radar and has well and truly convinced me that there is far more to the island than all inclusive resorts and sandy beaches. I thought it was about time to persuade him to put pen to paper and write something about his own experiences of Fuerteventura – so here it is, Jack’s real side of Fuerteventura!
We’ve all done it. At one point in our lives we’ve all been tempted by a deal in an all-inclusive, or simply stayed by the hotel’s pool when we’ve been on holiday. Some places unfortunately then simply become yet another hot place where it is possible for a British person to go out and get a tan, as opposed to a brand-new experience. Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to spend my summers on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura due to a family villa located on the island. The villa is situated to the north of the island in a small rural town, and is isolated from the tourist-magnets that are found in Corrlejo or further south. This means that since the age of 7, I have been able to fully immerse myself in the culture, the people and the cuisine, and consider it my home-from-home.
As a genuine ginger, hot climates and I really do not agree. I for one am that man who wears a cap at all times to protect my balding-spot (which Victoria likes to tease me about quite a bit) as well as lathering myself up in factor 50. Fuerteventura, being on the same latitude as African countries, is extremely hot, and when inland, there is no sea-breeze. One year it even managed to reach 45 degrees… in the shade! Despite this, the heat is crisp and dry, making the heat bearable before 13:00 and after 16:00. During this intense heat, the local shops all come to a standstill, and begin their siesta. They will then not reopen until 18:00 at the earliest, and will run until surprisingly late hours. In more urban areas, this does not occur because they know that the British will be mad enough to visit the shops during this midday heatwave.
Timings are something that does take some getting used to when in Fuerteventura. On the island, we have been fortunate to befriend a family who have essentially become part of our own family. They are made up of a local lady who was born and raised on the island, and an English man who travelled over to teach English. They have two children, both of whom are of similar age to my siblings and speak exceptional English. This means that we can fully immerse ourselves into the culture, and discover places that any other tourist would not. This year, I was taken to the Summer Festival in Cortillo, a small fishing village on the West Coast. I was told to meet our friends at their house for 01:00, something that as an English person seemed very bizarre, as usually I would be thinking about heading home from a party at this time, and made me wonder if I wasn’t perhaps as down-with-the-kids as I thought… We eventually arrived in Cortillo half an hour later, and the venue was totally dead. It consisted of a large concrete square, with different cocktail bars and burger vans located all around it. In the centre was a huge stage which looked like something out of Glastonbury, and on it were people who I can only describe as the funniest Enrique Inglasias tribute-act I’ve ever seen. Trusting my native friends, I bought a mango-mojito (would definitely recommend) and went to join the 10 people who were also at the party at this point in time. At around 02:00 however, the atmosphere changed, and I was transported to a busy nightclub in Ibiza. Literally hundreds of local people of all ages, ranging from 5 years old to 80, joined the party and got properly stuck-in. I was later informed that in the Spanish culture, parties generally do not start before 02:00, which was very different to what I had experienced in England during my days at University.
Traditions and events are very important to cultures, and getting involved in them as much as possible can truly transform the experience. A few years back my grandfather and I heard about a walk that goes from our village to the nearby city of Correlejo. This is about 10 miles, and is done in the middle of the day, where usually I am unable to swim in the pool, let-alone walk a fair distance. However, determined to go with this tradition (and have a pint in the new bar in Correlejo) my grandfather and I decided to go with it. When we joined the walking party, we were greeted with the locals dressed in their traditional outfits. These were jet black, and seemed like we had been transported to the early 20th century. I was armed in shorts, a shirt and flip-flops, and I was experiencing a new level of heat when I was walking. How they managed to walk in their outfits I have no idea, but would certainly like to try it out one day. Walking in Fuerteventura takes up more time than expected when on holiday. By our house is the mountain Escanfraga, which at the summit is nearly 600m tall. Each year, I make it my mission to climb up this mountain in the raging heat in order to simply experience what honestly is one of the best views I’ve ever seen. The climb is exceptionally steep, and at some points you genuinely have to enter goat-mode and scale rocks. Failing to realise this first time, I went up in my flip-flops, and surprisingly made it up and down in one piece.
Being a marine-biologist by trade, I have a soft-spot for scuba-diving. The Canary Islands are well renowned for their marine life and diving, supporting animals from fin whales to hammerhead sharks. Having dived since I was 14, each year I set a goal to explore somewhere new, and to go diving as much as possible. My dive school is run by people who live in the village, and so the instructors are well-known by my family. Before I set off each year, I let them know I am coming and ask them to find a new place for me to dive. Each year, they deliver a gem of a marine environment which likely has not been dived on by a mere tourist. This means that you can really discover the island’s marine life, and see things that you wouldn’t be able to see unless you were a local. This year I was fortunate to swim with sea-horses, something that even my instructors who dive every day say are exceptionally rare around the island. Following with this theme, knowing locals also means that you can find the prettiest, quietest beaches, which are not swarmed with tourists running around to get the best view of the ocean. It means that you can relax in the sand, and enjoy just a little bit of paradise.
Speaking of marine life, this brings me to the main advantage of knowing the island well; the cuisine. The small town of Villaverde sports arguably the best restaurant on the island called Casa Marcus. Due to its setting, it is relatively remote, and only a few tourists manage to find it. The place is in essence a tapas restaurant, filled with beautiful dishes.
Fuerteventura specialises in goat’s cheese, and this restaurant takes full advantage of this. My favourite dish comprises of deep-fried aubergines, smothered in honey and goats cheese, something that can only be enjoyed at certain restaurants. Unfortunately, the tourist restaurants on the island do not offer authentic Canarian cuisine, and instead actually focus on either seafood, Italian or English (why??) cuisine. Other places that surprise me constantly include the local bars, who serve typical junk food. However, these are all done to such a high-standard you’d think you were in an Oxford-Street restaurant. Perhaps the best part about the bars is the beer price, where a pint of their local brews Tropical or Dorado will only set you back €2.00 in most places. This theme of cheap food continues throughout the island, with a large meal at a top restaurant rarely topping €15 a head.
This blog post really isn’t long enough to discuss everything about this wonderful island. Obviously, I’m very bias as this is the place where I grew up in the summer, where I decided to study marine biology at University and ultimately where Victoria and I decided to begin our relationship. If anything, wherever you go, be sure to try and find local people and talk to them. If you find a bar that is only inhabited by locals, go in it, as it will always be good. More importantly, if you ever get the chance, visit Fuerteventura and the Canary Islands and see for yourself what a lovely place and culture it really is. Expect a proper Girl on the Move review very soon!
Did Jack inspire you to visit Fuerteventura? Are you currently planning a trip there? Want to know more? Please leave a comment in the box below! I’d love to hear from you!