One of the most enjoyable ways of getting to know Fuerteventura is by taking a road trip. The island is a joy to drive. Many roads are quiet, long and straight, giving drivers the time to enjoy the curves and colours of the exotic volcanic landscape which unfolds in front of them.
I like to explore driving routes in various parts of Fuerteventura on different days so I can take the time to enjoy the interesting things I encounter along the way.
Following a driving route in north Fuerteventura
The route is planned over coffee in Fuerteventura's capital Puerto del Rosario, one of the oldest towns in the Canary Islands. Personally, I prefer its more descriptive former name, Puerto Cabras (port of the goats).
It's an honest, working town with a handful of pretty golden beaches and a quirky sculpture trail. With more than 100 works dotted around the streets Puerto del Rosario is somewhat of an open air art gallery. A couple of favourites are found along the promenade; luggage belonging to a Majorero (local) about to depart for a new life; goats with rock bodies and metal faces frollicking in the grass.
The coastal road north from Puerto del Rosario travels like an arrow through flat malpaís (volcanic badlands) until Montaña Roja fills the windscreen. As well as being a Fuerteventura version of Ayers Rock, its colours can change as the sun arcs across the sky, the 'red mountain' is a landmark giving notice the scenery is about to undergo a remarkable transformation.
Immediately after Montaña Roja I enter one of the most visually mind-blowing landscapes in the Canary Islands, the Dunas de Corralejo; over 2500 hectares of gloriously undulating sand dunes. They stretch for miles ahead whilst on my right the golden shore is lapped by turquoise water.
Beyond the dunes is the resort of Corralejo. I head for the area around its harbour. The old quarter there is made up of narrow streets lined by low rise, whitewashed buildings which are home to stylish bars and good tapas restaurants. It has a pleasantly laid back vibe and is a picturesque spot to enjoy a lunch of delicious local cheese followed by cabra (goat meat).
Wheels are temporarily swapped for a hull as a fifteen minute boat ride away is the enchanting Isla de Lobos, named after a colony of monk seals (known locally as wolves of the sea). Sadly there are no longer any seals, but the island is fascinating to explore anyway, capturing an essence of all of Fuerteventura in one easily walked package.
Back on the road I follow the FV101 inland, leaving it to head west through bohemian Lajares to reach the coast at El Cotillo where a constant breeze and never ending supply of impressive Atlantic rollers creates an irresistible combination kite-boarders can't resist.
A road out of town leads to the Faro del Cotillo, a lighthouse built in 1897 which is home to the Traditional Fishing Museum. As well as providing an insight into local life the museum has a mini tower with hypnotic views along the coast in both directions.
After a stroll along the sandy paths leading from the Faro through wildly beautiful Punta Ballena I take the road back inland to La Oliva, an agricultural settlement dating from 1500. If you pass through on a Tuesday or Thursday morning there's a good little artisan craft market selling souvenirs, fruit, vegetables, wines, local cheeses and honeys. The main attraction in La Oliva is Casa de Los Coroneles, an immaculately restored 17th century colonial mansion which is now a museum and a good source of interesting snippets about the area and Fuerteventura.
From La Oliva I follow the FV10 south, passing through a volcanic world where colours veer from emerald to burnt orange and herds of goats wander freely.
Before the road curves east to return me to my starting point there's one final curious landmark to see, Montaña Tindaya; a 400m high mountain considered sacred by Fuerteventura's original inhabitants, the Mahohs.
I've read there are carvings of human feet on Tindaya's western slopes, chiselled into the mountainside by the Mahohs. The strange feet are apparently aligned with the sun, moon and Mount Teide on Tenerife. I've heard about the feet carvings, but I've never actually seen them as most of the sacred mountain is out of bounds.
I wander the paths around Tindaya's base reflecting on a road trip which has taken in an ocean of sand dunes, historic towns, art in the street, an island nature reserve, wild and wonderful coastlines and a mysterious sacred mountain - all of which were only on one driving route covering part of the north of Fuerteventura. There's still the rest of the island to explore.