Corralejo (North of the island)
Once a small fishing village, it has grown into a lively colourful town. There are white sandy beaches where you can 'drop down' and soak up the Canarian sunshine. Most of the shops, bars and restaurants run along the main street which leads on to the harbour overlooking the sand dunes. These dunes (a protected nature reserve) lie just beyond the town and spread for miles along the east coast. You can still find some of the original houses in the town, simple and quaint but most have now been transformed into shops and restaurants. Corralejo caters for all ages and there's a wide variety of things to do, from water sports , tennis, Water park, glass bottom boat trips, ferry trips to Lanzarote and Lobo, Jeep Safaris, Island tours, Mountain biking, Motorbike tours etc…
Costa Calma (South of the island)
In 1984 Costa Calma had its first major tourist boom, despite its incredible white beaches. Today the resort is fully up and running with plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels. The main road into the resort is lined with palm trees and Canary pines. The highlight of Costa Calma is the long sandy beach of Playa Barca to the southwest. It's always easy to find a quiet, sheltered spot here even during peak season. Windsurfers are particularly fond of this beach because of the strong off shore winds during the summer months.
El Cotillo (North)
This small rustic fishing village is dedicated to the virgin of good travel (Virgin de Buen Viaje) these words can be seen painted on the cliffs in the old harbour. Cotillo is a peaceful place offering some good restaurants, bars, a few shops and more recently, lots of new accommodation. With fantastic beaches and lagoons lying south of the little harbour town, Playa del Castillo is one of the nicest beaches in this region. Further to the south are the beaches of Playa del Ajibe de la Cueva and the Playa del Aguila, both wild and remote. This area is truly the surfing and windsurfing Mecca of the island. South of the harbor is the Fortaleza del Tostón. This round shaped fort was built in the late 1790's to defend against invading pirates. The old harbour is the most picturesque part of town and it is here you'll find most of the bars and restaurants.
Morro Jable (South)
Once a small sleepy fishing village which only had 200 inhabitants by 1960, now has more than 8000 people including many foreign residents mostly Germans. Morro Jable has something for everyone with the miles of golden beaches and clear blue seas, shops, bars and restaurants. The old village still remains intact and there is a quaint harbour in the west of the town, used by local fishermen and yachtsmen where you can escape the hustle and bustle. Some of the beaches here are the longest and most beautiful in the Canary Islands stretching 35km and there's plenty to do for the water sports enthusiast from jet skiing to windsurfing. It´s also possible to take a jet foil from here to Gran Canaria.
Betancuria lies in a picturesque valley next to a dried up stream that flowed up until the 16th century. Founded in 1405 by the Norman conqueror Jean de Bethencourt, it has plenty of history. Designed to protect the capital from pirate attacks, in 1593 the pirate Jaban penetrated Betancuria and reduced everything including the Santa Maria church to a pile of rubble. The church was rebuilt in 1691. Betancuria was capital for quite some time until the local people started moving away from the town due to lack of arable land. In 1834 the capital was changed to La Oliva. On the main street running through the town is the Casa Museo Arquebiologico, with the famous cannon. The building encases a collection of important archeological finds. These include fertility idols, an idol frieze that was discovered near La Oliva, and many farming implements. The church has been fully restored and open to the public and there's also a church museum. At the Casa Santa Maria you can see local artists at work and purchase some of the hand made products from the local shop.
One of the oldest villages on Fuerteventura, was built in the 18th century. Antigua was once the capital of Fuerteventura but only for 1 year! The lovely church “Cruz de los Caldos”, built in 1785, dominates the town and is surrounded by trees and shrubbery. Antigua also has a fully restored windmill, now a cultural centre containing a craft shop with local handicraft and art for sale. The main economy is based on agriculture and fishing in the nearby port of Pozo Negro. Antigua is also famous for it's market.
Cofete sits in one of the most isolated corners of the island. The only access is by a small dirt track, not for the feint hearted but the views are fantastic! As you pass the highest point between the peaks of Pico de la Zara and Frail you are rewarded with spectacular views of the north and south of the island. Another place worth a visit in the area is villa winter - of Gustav Winter. This house stands on a fenced piece of land the same shape as Fuerteventura and the position of the building on the plot is the same as its location on the island. Originally designed as a manor house, the house of winters was intended to ensure land cultivation in that region. Many people used to live there in almost total isolation at a time when agriculture, animal farming and cheese making were only just developing.
One of the largest towns on the island, it owes success to the fact that all of the islands tomatoes were once exported from here. From the harbour it's possible to view all of the streets and small alleys that are built into the hillside. Here, you can watch the local fishermen at work or stroll along the beach promenade. The town has a beautiful fountain with six sea horses spouting water, situated in the middle of a shady oasis of tall palm trees beside the 20th Century built church.
La Lajita Zoo
Located between Tarajalejo and La Cuesta de La Pared ,essentially a small fishing village with a handful of excellent fish restaurants and bars in the village but the main attraction is the 'Oasis de Los Camellos' zoo. A small selection of animals, horse rides, parrot shows and a bar set under the shade of palm trees and camel safaris and a Cactus Garden situated next door.
Upon entering the village is the football stadium that was built in 1990. The town also has a 'lucha canaria' area, a form of wrestling that's very popular throughout the Canary Islands. The main attraction has to be the local laceshop 'Artisania Lajares' where you can watch the local women making lace and embroidery. In the southern part of the town are two windmills next to the church. One of these windmills was still in use up to 20 years ago, and the owner and his wife still live there.
The political centre of Fuerteventura from the early 17th to mid-19th century, some of the original buildings are still standing today. In the centre of the town stands the main church “Parroquiade Nuestra Señora de Candelaria” a pretty little church with a square bell tower visible for miles around, and a finely carved wooden door. Inside the church you can see the mudejar ceiling, a large painting of The Last Judgment, a baroque altar painting by Juan de Miranda (1723-1805), and some fine trompe 1'oeil work. The grandest part of town is the townhouse, “Casa de los Coroneles” (house of colonels) which was where the military governors of the islands used to reside. Above the main entrance is the family coat of arms and wooden balconies decorated with carvings. It has been said many times that the building has 365 windows, but this comes mainly from comments made by the poor who expressed their opinions on the wealth of the people who were living in the house claiming they had "as many windows as there are days in the year". This is currently under restoration.
Situated on the north west coast of Jandia, La Pared gets its name from the stone wall which allegedly ran from East to West coast of the island dividing Fuerteventura in two halves (Maxorata and Jandia). The town's only water supply comes from the natural caverns in the mountains. There´s not a great deal in the village, but you can find some great restaurants in the area, also a golf practice course with tee offs covered in artificial grass, and a horse-riding school. A great place to spend a family day out is at the restaurant Bahia Mar with panoramic views of the coast, a fully equipped swimming pool with water slide, and children's playground.
Islote de Lobos
The protected nature reserve of Islote de Lobos is just a short boat ride from Corralejo, an experience of serenity and privilege is the Protected Nature Reserve of Lobos, home to plants and birds not to be found anywhere else on the planet. Lobos was home to dense populations of seals - 'lobos del mar' (Sea Wolves) but today it is home to different seabirds that nest in the cliffs and rocks. The European Community Commission has now included Lobos in the Spanish areas of special protection for birds. The highest point is the Montaña La Caldera (The Cauldron Mountain) at 127mts. Other notable features are the dilapidated Los Edificios Volcánicos (Volcanic Buildings) on the north coast, Los Hornitos (The Little Ovens), El Salador de El Faro (The Lighthouse Saltmarshes), el Jable de La Cocina (Jable of the Kitchen), el Malpais del Interior (the Inner Badlands) and la Hoya de Las Lagunitas (The Valley of the Little Lagoons).
The little village of Pajara is very picturesque, once voted the 6th prettiest village in Spain, it has a large amount of pretty trees and bushes, lawns and a freshwater swimming pool. Just outside the Town Hall sits a fine old disused 'camel driven' waterwheel, and close to that is the leafy church square. The church (Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Regla) was built between 1687 and 1711 and is one of the most beautiful on the island, with its ornately decorated doorway. The Virgin standing at the altar was brought to the island by a wealthy emigrant. Not far from Pajara is the small quiet town of Tuineje. It was close to here in 1740 that 37 farmers armed with just five muskets and various agricultural implements battled against a 50-man English pirate troop that were carrying guns and cannon. The battle took place on the Montaña de Tamacite and surprisingly, even with their lack of weapons, the local people won the battle attacking the English before they had time to reload. Thirty Englishmen and five local Fuerteventurans' (or Majoreros) were killed that day, and two captured the cannon that can still be seen in front of the museum in Betancuria today. This scene has also been immortalized in a painting in the church 'San Miguel Arcangel'.
Puerto del Rosario
Founded in 1797, the town has been the capital since 1860. Named Puerto de Cabras (Port of goats) until 1957, the town developed into an important port during the 19th century. The church in the centre of 'Puerto' is dedicated to the patron saint 'Virgin del Rosario'. Puerto is an industrial area and does not really cater for tourism, although many people still visit the town to do some shopping in the large Los Rotondas Centre. Recently the harbour promenade was rebuilt. The harbour area is the oldest part of town and it is from here you can find all of the small alleys lined with old Canarian style houses. There is one place worth a visit, the home of the former exile poet Miguel de Unamuno, which is now a museum.
In the small village of Tefia, La Alcogida has been rebuilt. Described as an Eco museum based upon an old Canarian village giving an insight into how life was before tourism. There are eight small houses including a main farm house where you can see examples of old ovens, milling wheels and live demonstrations of lace making, basket weaving, pottery, cheese making, carpentry and a blacksmith. The 'village' grows its own Canarian crops. The population of the island was halved after the 2nd World War due to a 7 year drought. Camels were extremely important to farmers as work animals and there is still a camel breeding farm on the island, selling camels all over the world for their strength and durability.
Once regarded as a very religious place this village, the protected zone of Tindaya sits at the foot of the 401m mountain of the same name and considered sacred with more than 100 carvings of 'feet' (podomorphs) in the smooth rock. These strange carvings which sit at the very top of the mountain, were only discovered in 1978. The feet are said to ward off evil spirits, and on a clear day it's possible to see Mount Teide, the highest mountain/volcano on Tenerife. Old inhabitants used to see Mount Teide as the residence of the devil and all the carvings face in that direction.
Vega de Rio Palma
This valley and its village is one of the most beautiful areas on the island. The impressive church (Nuestra Señora de la Peña) was built in 1666 and is surrounded by greenery. The white and clay coloured buildings perch on the edge of the stream with little terraced fields in between. Until the 16th century, there was a mountain stream that flowed through the village. In the 15th Century, Jean de Bethencourt and his army marched up this stream. Today the area is totally dried up and only during the winter months when there is the odd downpour does the stream fill the reservoir. Just beyond the dam is the tiny white chapel (Ermita de Virgin de la Peña). At the altar hangs a painting showing the discovery of a statue of the saint that now stands at the main church. This statue was brought to the village by Jean de Bethencourt. Shortly afterwards the church was totally destroyed by 'Jaban' the pirate in 1593 but the statue was hidden so well that it was only rediscovered in the 17th century.
Fuerteventura, like the rest of the Canary Islands, was inhabited by primitive pagan people before the invasion of Europeans. Most Canarians call their ancestors 'Guanches' although strictly speaking this refers to a specific tribe from Tenerife. 'Mahorero' is still used today to describe the people of Fuerteventura and comes from the ancient word 'mahos' meaning a type of goatskin shoe worn by the original inhabitants. Analysis of prehistoric remains seem to indicate that these people arrived from North Africa, and this is mirrored by many linguistic similarities between pre-hispanic place names, words and the language of the Berbers in North Africa. Fuerteventura was known as Herbania, possibly a reference to it’s abundant plant-life in ancient times, although hard to believe looking at it’s barren landscape but more likely from the Berber word 'bani' meaning wall. A low wall spanned the narrowest width of the island, from La Pared over to the east coast, dividing it into two kingdoms. The north, Maxorata was ruled by Guize and Jandia in the South, by Ayoze. Although ostensibly ruled by these two kings, they in turn took advice and guidance from a mother and daughter team of two priestesses, Tibiabin and Tamonante. It is believed that it was a polygamous society, with each woman having an average of three husbands. They lived on fish, shellfish, goats’ meat, milk and cheese, and ‘gofio’ a finely ground toasted barley flour. They lived in caves or semi-subterranean dwellings, a few of which have been discovered and excavated, uncovering some examples of early tools and pottery. They were a spiritual race. The highest mountains provided the setting for pagan rituals and ceremonies. Engravings and religious symbols found on Mount Tindaya indicate this was one such sacred mountain.