Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

Fuerteventura's Atlantic Ventura

View from the top of El Islote
Playa Cofete divided into two irresistible bays as seen from the top of El Islote.
Sicasumbre goat sculpture
Homage to the majores goats of the artist of the island majorero Juan Miguel Cubas.
solitary walk
Resident walks through an inhospitable expanse between the Jandía lighthouse and Puerto de La Cruz.
Towards Coffete
Winding road that leads from the southeast coast to the viewpoint over Praia Cofete and the southwest coast of Fuerteventura.
Southwest Coast & Cofete Beach
One of the most unspoilt corners of Fuerteventura, the south-western slope and the long Cofete beach.
El Puertito
View of the coastal hamlet of Puerto de La Cruz, better known as El Puertito.
rough pasture
Goats graze in the stony expanse of a corral.
Sails to the trade winds
Windsurfers glide over the turquoise Atlantic Ocean off Jandía.
West Atlantic
Waves unravel on the vast sandy beach of Playa Cofete.
the weaver
Filipe Marrero Frances, a craftsman who demonstrates the major art of weaving in the Santa Maria house-museum.
The green dryness of Cofete
One of the many lush cactus that sprout on the rocky slope of Cofete.
The Romans knew the Canaries as the lucky islands. Fuerteventura, preserves many of the attributes of that time. Its perfect beaches for the windsurf and the kite-surfing or just for bathing, they justify successive “invasions” by the sun-hungry northern peoples. In the volcanic and rugged interior, the bastion of the island's indigenous and colonial cultures remains. We started to unravel it along its long south.

We cannot escape them. From the first moment we leave Caleta de Fuste towards the south, the roundabouts are repeated which, in the arid and unobstructed landscape, fulfill their function of making insular traffic flow.

We are in low season.

Fuerteventura is the second largest island in the Canary Islands and the closest to Africa. The Moroccan cape of Juby is 100 km from its east coast. In the good fashion of the Sahara, just to the east, the sky remains blue. Even early in the morning, the great star warms our skin and activates our explorers' souls.

We pass Tarajalejo and La Lajita. We enter the kind of boot that encloses Fuerteventura to the southwest. The top of its barrel clashes with the scenery we left behind. It is filled with an isthmus overloaded with dunes and large ergs that prevent us from seeing the windward coast.

Unexpectedly, the FV-2 road we were following leads to a stretch of highway that progresses through the foothills of that realm of sand.

Jandia's Desert-Marine Vast

Here and there, we glimpse the marine panoramas of the successive Playas de Jandía. One of those glimpses reveals to us a peninsula too resplendent for us to ignore. Even if the next exit is suspiciously named Mal Nombre, we take it.

On the coastal road used before the advent of the highway, we find the Mirador del Salmo. From there, we unveil an almost pyramidal peninsula of sand that dissolves into an emerald sea and, at greater distance and depth, oil blue.

Windsurfers, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Windsurfers glide over the turquoise Atlantic Ocean off Jandía.

Off to the side, a zigzag armada of windsurfers e kite surfers furrow it. We are blown by the furious trade winds that the Sahara projects across the Atlantic, with such brutality that practitioners often can't stand them and crash with a fuss.

We enjoyed that surreal panorama and the nautical movement, which the great ocean and the mountains of the north of the island in the background made even smaller. Twenty minutes later, we were back on the road.

From Playa de Butihondo to the south, the concentration of seaside resorts and towards the interior of the coastal road increases.

Morro Jable – A Germanic Colony on the Asphalt Threshold

The Canaries – and Fuerteventura in particular – are home to scholarships that are almost holiday colonies in certain countries. The area we were entering was, beyond doubt, Teutonic. "Deutscher Arzt Zahnarzt”, announces a sign above a promenade on the waterfront, one of many others because we crossed paths.

The domain of the ergs was left behind. We were at the leeward foot of the island's last southern mountains. The Germans, but not only that, had installed there an almost conurbation of resorts, hotels, aparthotels and the like that left room only for the lighthouse of Matorral and the vast sands to the north and south.

At every bump in the road, every ascent and descent, we were confronted with new hotel and housing complexes. Some targets. Others, with colors as bright or brighter than those of the island's complex volcanic geology: brownish yellows, oranges, ochers and warm tones of this kind.

In any case, we have always considered Morro Jable a mere reference, a crossing point towards the coastal stronghold that we esteemed in the imagination as the most unspoiled and impressive in Fuerteventura.

Road to Cofete, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Winding road that leads from the southeast coast to the viewpoint over Praia Cofete and the southwest coast of Fuerteventura.

To get there, we say goodbye to Morro Jable and the asphalt. We followed a road of gravel and stone that soon snaked and climbed up the mountain.

Little by little, we ascend from leeward sea level to the crest of the small mountain range that divides the bottom of Fuerteventura's boot in half. We passed goats given over to their food and new colonies of stiff and verdant cacti.

A tanker truck from the Ayuntamento de Pájara keeps us for some time, which waters the road to soften the abrasive surface and reduce the dust released.

The Surreal View of the Southwest Coast and the Sem Fim Beach of Cofete

Curve after curve, with the possible haste, there we reach the unmistakable top of the Cofete viewpoint. From that high, once again exposed to the furious trades, we were dazzled by the rawness of the protected scenery of the Jandia Natural Park, on the opposite slope from the one we had climbed.

Cofete Beach, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

One of the most unspoilt corners of Fuerteventura, the south-western slope and the long Cofete beach.

From then on, as far as the eye could see, a long, ocher, striated slope descended with unexpected gentleness from the successive volcanic peaks until it surrendered to the sand that separated it from the ocean.

Launched from the north, this Atlantic proved to be much wilder than the one that bathed the island to the south. We still glimpsed what we thought was the southwestern boundary of the sandy isthmus we had crossed off the freeway.

We completed the tightest and most dizzying section of the road without incident. Then we descend to the sandy foot of the mountain.

The entire huge beach at the base of the slope used that name Cofete. Not just the beach.

It was preceded by Casas de Cofete, a half-walled, squatted mini-village, with a mere 25 inhabitants – several goat breeders – with a cemetery and – much more useful to visitors coming from the urbanized side of the island – a small bar that served canes, majorero cheese and other specialties. But, we were there by Cofete beach.

Playa Cofete, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Waves unravel on the vast sandy beach of Playa Cofete.

We parked. We unnumb the legs. We contemplate the raw beauty of that wild coast. We run to the sea, do some dives and, on the way back, relax in the sun.

El Islote: Cofete Divided into Two Irresistible Halves

Shortly after, we started a long walk that took us almost to the opposite end of the beach. We only stopped at El Islote, a large rock at the edge of the surf, accessible by a spit of sand that marked a border. We went up to that rough Islote.

From the top, we learned that the tongue of sand divided part of the endless Cofete into two almost symmetrical bays, rounded and seductive. In one, emerald waters swayed.

On the other, a sea more like turquoise. Lying between them, an “escaped” and tanned nudist enjoyed that bathing gift. At long distances, couples passed by who could not resist bathing. That's what we did again.

El Cofete beach from the top of El Islote, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Playa Cofete divided into two irresistible bays as seen from the top of El Islote.

As the morning progresses, we walk the 4km back to the car and drive back to the south slope. We stretch the way to the toe of the island's boot, marked by the Punta Jandía Lighthouse. We appreciate and photograph the town picturesque Puerto de la Cruz, formed by what could be large blocks of white legos.

Puerto de la Cruz. the picturesque puertito White

Seeing it, candid, straddling the blue ocean and the volcanic mountains of Dantesque, we understand why the residents of these parts have such affection for it and call it Puertito.

Puerto de la Cruz, Canary Islands, Spain

View of the coastal hamlet of Puerto de La Cruz, better known as El Puertito.

By that time, it was already arriving from the back of Fuerteventura. We backtrack to Morro Jable. We re-enter the island's main massif. We go into its arid and mountainous core, aimed at Pájara.

As might be expected, we cannot get there without marveling and stopping again.

We were going up the FV-605 road to these when, in one of those meanders, the dramatic shapes of the Cardón mountain take us by storm. We parked nearby. An adjoining balcony reveals a desert in pastel tones, carved with vels, humps and depressions that preceded a more distant mountain range.

Fuerteventura's Window into Space

Out of nowhere, a crow lands in front of us. It croaks at us, as if claiming ownership of its domains. Whoever they were, the Fuerteventura authorities had made sure to link them to other galaxies.

Crow at the foot of the Sicasumbre space observatory, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Raven by the side of the road, at the foot of the Sicasumbre space observatory.

A short trail takes us to a summit. On this top, we find the Mirador Astronómico de Sicasumbre, a ground-to-ground base installed there because Fuerteventura is part of the Starlight Reserve, as it has one of the best nights on the Blue Planet to watch the stars.

It was still a good few hours before sunset. We settle for admiring the somewhat extraterrestrial afternoon scenery around us and the artist's sculptures of goats majorer Juan Miguel Cubas.

Artwork at the Sicasumbre Space Observatory, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Homage to the majores goats of the artist of the island majorero Juan Miguel Cubas.

We reach the small historic town of Pájara in the middle of the afternoon and with little life. We spent a quarter of an hour on the unusual tripartite façade of its Iglesia de la Virgen de Regla and the garden square that surrounded it. As soon as we could, we headed for Betancuria.

When the Norman Crusaders Arrived to Stay

The first inhabitants of the Canaries and Fuerteventura arrived from North Africa. After several Portuguese and Spanish expeditions to the islands in the 6th century, Fuerteventura hosted two Guanche tribal kingdoms (indigenous of Berber origin) divided by a XNUMXkm wall. The southern kingdom of Jandia extended to La Pared. Maxorata, the rival, occupied the rest of the island.

In 1402, the Normans Jean de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle, in command of just 63 sailors resisting a desertion, arrived and altered the order that had long been in force. They made Lanzarote their base. From Lanzarote, occupied other islands. Fuerteventura was the closest.

After overcoming some initial hardships, they obtained support from Castile and, in 1405, completed the conquest. They then founded Betancuria on the west coast, the island's first European settlement.

Betancuria, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

White and largely secular houses of Betancuria, the first capital of Fuerteventura.

After complex papal validation, the European colonial rule of Fuerteventura was effected. The population increased but fortifications against Berber enemies and pirates proved insufficient.

In 1593, a Berber invasion razed the city. Even partially rebuilt in 1834, Betancuria lost the status of capital to Puerto del Rosario. It entered a doldrums and decay from which it only recently recovered.

“That's almost everything from a German!” later the receptionist at the Ecomuseum de la Alcogida assures us. “He was the one who got interested, bought and recovered most of the buildings and made the city the attraction it is today”.

Betancuria: the Colonial Genesis of Fuerteventura

In fact, visitors to Fuerteventura really interested in its history and culture only have one way: to pass through Betancuria. As we enter there, the square of the Cathedral Church of Santa Maria and the alleys around it are hit by a soft sun. Taking into account the normal rush hour flow, in high season, they remain very passable.

Cathedral church of Santa Maria in Betancuria, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Casal walks through the churchyard of the Cathedral of Santa Maria, in Betancuria.

We enter the Santa Maria house-museum. We enjoyed a video that shows the toil of a goat farmer in the harsh environment in which he lives and herds them. Next door, Felipe, a man who is already his age, works on a loom. We look at him and ask if we can photograph him.

At first he is shy, but as soon as we start talking, we unleash a mutual will and a chatter almost as intricate as the threads and laces of Pastor Majorera's blanket that told us it would take twenty days to complete. “You know I taught an actress in the movie “Exodus” (Ridley Scott, 2014) that here was filmed weaving?”

Weaver at the Santa Maria house-museum, Betancuria, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Filipe Marrero Frances, a craftsman who demonstrates the major art of weaving in the Santa Maria house-museum.

"Seriously? That was your biblical mission!” we answered him, even if amazed by what he was telling us, in a half-joking tone, and generated a shared laugh. “You were supposed to be there in my land (Tuinaje) it was the 13th of October.

They were going to see a real party! We organized the Fiesta Jurada there, you know?

We staged that time when pirates attacked us and we resisted by all means and a few more.” It is not just your challenge that urges us to return.

Fuerteventura turned out to be an old island world in which we left almost everything undiscovered.



Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

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