Most of the travelers who visit Fuerteventura seek cloudless blue skies; warm air suited to bikinis and sarongs; and perfect, rolling waves. To me, it was no different. I set out this month to try my hand at surfing and discovered a new way of meditation along the way.
I arrived in Fuerteventura without an agenda for my ten days. That gave this usually meticulous planner an unexpected thrill. Upon leaving the airport, already late in the evening, the chill of stale, air-conditioned travel air is replaced by a balmy breeze not nearly so hot as one would expect to be closer to Africa than to Europe.
The sunset reaches me on the bus. In the background, the mountains. And on the other side, the ocean. It was a pity the windows were too dirty to take usable photos, but sunsets are best enjoyed in person. I gaze at the waves that I can start riding already tomorrow and glimpse my reflection smiling at the sea and dying sunlight. I wonder again why I choose to remain landlocked instead of living next to this beauty.
After the sun finally drops below the horizon, total darkness wraps the bus as we roll across the island. Light pollution is surely not a problem and I look forward to seeing a full sky of stars.
Luckily the surf school sent me great directions so I easily found my way to their base camp in Corralejo, the north of the island. Although I arrived very late on a Sunday evening, the place was still very lively in the huge kitchen/dining room and outdoor community area with pool- and ping-pong table, slackline, and a small swimming pool. From the rooftop terrace, there was a beautiful view overlooking the village with a volcano in the back. Simply amazing.
My Fuerteventura Surf Camp experience with Planet Surf Camps
My first surf class first thing next morning. I met my instructor and classmates at the gear room, we packed wetsuits, boards, and ropes onto the minivan and headed to chase some waves. As this was a beginner group the surf instructor wisely picked the beautiful playa Cotillo for our introduction.
We had a warmup and some basic training on the beach before the moment finally arrived to jump into the water.
Under the watchful eye of our instructors, we wannabe-surfers tried to apply the moves learned on the shore. The cool water was a welcome offset to the hot morning sun. The seafoam sounded a light pitter-patter as I propelled myself around every time on the hunt for the next wave. It was a battle every time.
Once you taste the success of standing g on the board for even few seconds you are charged for the next attack. Catching a wave in the right moment is one the greatest feelings I know: cruising with the current, being led by wind and water, to go with the flow, to surf!!
The hours just flew by, only the tiredness of my body reminded me of the passing time.
That was the moment I realized surfing is a kind of meditation for me. Unless you clear your mind and try to exist together with the nature surrounding you, it is impossible to conquer the waves.
After that first grueling but exhilarating session on the waves, we headed back to the surf camp for some well-deserved rest. Upon request there were yoga classes, stretching and relaxing our weary body. I was usually tired enough to stay at the camp or just going for a walk at the nearby beach, in return packed my post-surf camp days full of activities to discover Fuerteventura’s natural beauties.
This video can better pass on the vibes in the surf camp and set objectives on the waves for rookie practitioners:
8 Useful things I learned along the way
As an encouragement here are 8 things surfing can teach you and why I find it an exceptional sport:
- Surfing requires a certain level of fitness, it is no coincidence frequent surfers have enviable bodies.nIt does not mean you can not give it a try if you do not practice sport regularly but undeniably you will tire out much faster. Practice makes perfect, the more times you can try the more success you will have just as with everything.
- Learn about nature. Actually back in the surf camp, we had a theory lesson on all the things you need to check before choosing a surfing spot and time, like the tide, swell, currents and of course the basics of unwritten behavior rules among surfers.
- The nicest thing is you have to work together with nature not against it otherwise you will never succeed. If you don’t obey the ocean’s rules you don’t stand a chance.
- Have you ever been at a beach heartbroken because the water was too cold and the weather gloomy and windy to jump in the water? Maybe such weather does not serve sun-worshippers but still pretty awesome for surfing. With this sport you can make the most of the big blue, the only thing matters to get the waves right.
- When you start surfing you are also joining a community, surfers are very open and helpful with one another. That makes it a perfect trip for solo travelers too. Right at this camp, I met a group from Barcelona, who have over 2000 members in their area and regular gatherings and trips are organized.
- Surf camps are ideal for solo travelers because through the surf lessons, group activities like BBQ, dining out and excursions and the friendly camp atmosphere, you’ll make new friends very easily. A lot of people come alone, some bravely for the first time, others because they already know the advantages of solo travel.
- You can enjoy surfing all year round, just need to pick the right location, there is an abundance of excellent surfing spots around the world. It can last you a while you tick off hundreds of places of your bucket list.
- And lastly, it teaches you persistence, true willingness to continue to try in the face of the enormous challenge of breaking the waves in, a continuation of effort and striving in the face of series of failures which is one of the key characteristics of successful people
5 Can’t-Miss Fuerteventura Highlights
The island is minimum a couple of hours flight from Europe so if you are already here make sure spend some time off waters as well, here are some recommendations to help you plan.
1. Visit a volcano in Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura along with all the other Canary islands has a volcanic origin.
So, what else to do on a volcanic island but to climb a volcano! None of the volcanoes on Fuerteventura have erupted in 5000 years so we had our pick of peaks to summit. We chose to hike the closest volcano, Calderon Hondo. This one has an open crater on the side due to erosion so we visited the volcano’s once was inside and for our biggest surprise, we met some very curious squirrels. Carrying on upwards it was an easy climb, the only obstacle we had to overcome was the growing wind as we approached the top, but the view recompensed us plenty.
2. El Cotillo, a fishermen village worth exploring
Next day we visited the former fishing village of El Cotillo, next to the beach where we had previously surfed. The village is still largely undeveloped and has excellent fish restaurants to satisfy even the pickiest foodie with fish a laid-back, authentic vibe.
The major attraction is the remains of a Cuvier’s beaked whale which was washed ashore during military maneuvers 11 years ago.
The impressive skeleton is on permanent display as part of a 15-year initiative which started shortly after the turn of the millennium when Fuerteventura Council began a project that aims to exhibit unique whale skeletons all over the island on the so-called “Cetacean Pathway” or Senda de los Cetaceos in Spanish.
The objective is to draw attention to the threats to the oceans and their inhabitants, and our responsibility to protect them. This is the latest skeleton to be exhibited along Fuerteventura’s coastline.
3. Corralejo Natural Park
Another unmissable sight is the Parque Natural de Corralejo, the unique nature reserve of the island stretches along on the east coast of Fuerteventura for ten km long from Corralejo.
This area is made up of a large area of golden dunes which can even make you think you are in a desert if you are turning your back to the ocean.
However it can be especially breezy here, hence its popularity with windsurfers and kiteboarders on beaches like the El Burro or Playa Del Moro. Another sports activity you can easily tick off your bucket list if you are visiting Fuerteventura.
4. Jandia and Morro Sable Southern Fuerteventura beaches
Nevertheless, if you really want to feel lost, just cross the island to reach the Southern tip of it and in less than 2 hours it will look like you arrived in the Caribbean.
The fantastic coloring of the water and the sand here just want you to stop time and stay here forever with your gaze on the horizon. Just as the rest of the island, also suitable for watersport lovers, more to wind giving a more romantic feel to the activity with such eye-catching scenery.
Remember to carry water with you as these beaches do not have a very developed infrastructure with cafes or any kind of vendors.
5. The squirrel situation and falling for the local cuisine
We took the road in the middle of the island back which lead us through some more Mars-like scenery occasionally broken up by small villages or aloe vera plantations.
The climate offers the best conditions for the cultivation of this super plant. Look for local products with a high concentration of pure Aloe vera. Off the beaten track closer to the shore, we ran into a small horde of squirrels who were similarly eager to come close, begging for some food.
Being at the topic of food, the Canary Islands’ specialty is papas arrugadas, wrinkly potatoes, cooked in their skins with saltwater and served with mojo picon sauce which exists in green and a spicier red colored version. You can accompany your potatoes with some fresh grilled fish but also available many of the classical Spanish snacks. This island is also famous for its tomatoes and goat cheese.
Bonus! A Ferry trip to a neighbor island is in order
In case you have more appetite for adventures the island of Lanzarote – the next one in size within the archipelago – is only a half an hour ferry trip away. Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and La Palma aren’t far either.
Offering another Natural park in abundance of volcanoes or some unique caves carved by the latter natural formation, Lanzarote is called the island of thousand volcanoes, with the latest volcanic activities happening only two centuries ago, when two third of its territory was overflown by lava, evolving the current surface. Due to similar characteristics as Fuerteventura, this island is also great for all kinds of surfing for which I surely need to return here with more time on my hands. Traveling never gets old.
I am surely leaving Fuerteventura with very fond memories on and off the surfboard. In case you are longing for a more exotic surf destination, or just know already this gem of the Canary Islands, then head to Bali or Morocco for a different kind of experience, Planet surf will make sure you have a home away from home. As their motto goes: Surf more, travel more, worry less. This was surely not the last time for me.
Disclaimer: Our writer was invited to enjoy a week at Planet Surf Fuerteventura surf camp. However, all the opinions are her own.
Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to A World to Travel.