Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands, with 150km of beautiful white sand beaches, a warm climate and a constant breeze. Did you know that its name translates to strong wind?
Early references to the name fuerte (strong) ventura (wind) date back to the Italian-Mallorcan cartographer Angelino Dulcert in 1339. As well as the French conquistador Jean de Béthencourt who is reported to have exclaimed “Que fuerte ventura” when he conquered the island in 1405.
Wind & Waves
The wind brings tourists to Fuerteventura to enjoy kiteboarding and windsurfing holidays. Peak season for these surfers is during the windiest time of the year from May to September. At the end of July, the world’s best boarders arrive in Fuerteventura to compete in three World Championship events at Sotavento including the PWA Windsurfing Freestyle World Cup, PWA Windsurfing Slalom World Cup and GKA Kitesurfing Strapless Freestyle Grand Slam. There’s a great atmosphere on Playa Barca during the competition, where you can ride the waves alongside the elite and party on the beach with them at night.
The Playa Sotavento lagoon is an ideal spot to try out windsurfing or kiteboarding during your holiday, this shallow stretch of water is 4km long, so there’s plenty of space to practise your manoeuvres. Another popular area for windsurfing and kitesurfing is at Flag Beach near Corralejo. Around half of this 6km white sand beach is designated for watersports and there’s normally a good cross shore wind available from March to September.
For land based kite lovers, I’d recommend visiting Fuerteventura during the second week of November for the International Kite Festival. This event is celebrated in the stunning Natural Park area of the Dunas de Corralejo. These white sand dunes and beautiful blue sky are a fabulous backdrop for the hundreds of brightly coloured kites flown by enthusiasts from around the world. We’re not talking about average toy shop kites, the size and designs are quite amazing, the sky is rainbow coloured with up to 700 kites in flight at the same time.
The early inhabitants of Fuerteventura were known as Majoreros, they used to crush and grind cereals by hand using large stone pestles and mortar. After the European conquest, the islanders started to build windmills to reduce the amount of hand labour required in producing gofio, their staple food made from corn. The existence of these windmills can still be seen when travelling inland across the island. I love exploring these picturesque buildings that litter the landscape, there’s a visitor centre I can recommend if you’d like to see a restored example up close.
The Molino de Antigua museum is situated in the centre of the island, set in beautifully paved and mature gardens, you can still see the rudder which was used the turn the sails into the wind. There’s also a bar and shop where you can buy artisan craft products made in Fuerteventura.
For hikers there is a 7.5km circular walk that departs from Antigua, the route passes through Tacha Blanca, Valles de Ortega and La Corte. Whilst walking the SL FV Ruta 15 footpath, you will discover various types of windmills in the Valles de Ortega.
The mills are referred to by two different names, Molinos and Molinas. The easy way to tell them apart is by their shape, Molinos are tall and round with two storeys, whereas Molinas are more modern, low and square in shape. The latter design meant that the heavy sacks of cereals didn’t have to be carried upstairs to the first floor before grinding.
Gofio is the milled grain that Canarian’s were raised on, it was the basic food of the Guanches and resembles wholemeal flour. This product is used for both sweet and savoury dishes and was a staple food, especially in times of famine. It’s an acquired taste, I much prefer the sweet version made by Los del Gofio, their recipe has cheese, raisins, almonds, coconut, banana, and avocado added, which is sweetened with sugar and honey, then the best bit as chupitos of banana liqueur and honey rum are mixed in! The savoury version I’ve tried was prepared at the restaurant table, the dry gofio was mixed with ladles of hot fish stock until a smooth consistency was reached and then we were given pieces of raw onion to scoop up the mixture to taste. It was a bit of a strange combination that worked, if the gofio is not sufficiently moist it just sticks to the roof of your mouth!
For anyone looking to visit Fuerteventura who may be worried about the wind on this island, please don’t be – the constant breeze of the trade winds is what helps to keep the island cool during the hotter months and there’s always a sheltered spot to be enjoyed somewhere.