Spain Guide

 

Fuerteventura Spain

Fuerteventura is one of the Spanish Canary Islands, located just 100 kilometres off the coast of north Africa. It's the second biggest of the islands, after Tenerife, and has the longest beaches in the archipelago. The island is a paradise for sun, beach and watersports enthusiasts. It's not the place for all night ravers but Fuerteventura (or Fuerte as it's affectionately known) is perfect for families and couples seeking a relaxed winter sun holiday.

The island is widely believed to be the oldest of the Canary Islands. It's strange form a cross between a leg of mutton and Marge Simpson's hairdo! was created out of a series of volcanic eruptions many thousands of years ago.

The first tourist hotel was built here in 1965 followed by the construction of the airport at El Mattoral heralding the dawn of a new era for the island. Fuerteventura, with its 3,000 sunshine hours a year, was placed firmly on the world stage as a major European holiday destination.

 

The island is on the same latitude as Florida and Mexico and temperatures here rarely fall below 18C or rise above 24C. There are no less than 152 beaches along its coastline 50 kilometres of fine, white sand and 25 kilometres of black volcanic shingle.

The summer Trade Winds and winter swells of the Atlantic make this a year round surfers' paradise. Sailors, scuba divers and big game fishermen are all drawn to these clear blue Atlantic waters where whales, dolphins, marlin and turtles are all common sights.

Much of the interior, with its large plains, lavascapes and volcanic mountains, consists of protected areas which can be best be explored in a 4x4 or (for the more daring) with a cross country motorbike.

The island's colourful past can be traced in a variety of ancient buildings, monuments, archaeological sites and museums. The first settlers are believed to have arrived here from North Africa the word Mahorero or Maho 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.

They lived in caves and semi subterranean dwellings, a few of which have been discovered and excavated revealing relics of early tools and pottery.

In 1405 the French conqueror John de Bethencourt took the island and gave his name to the capital, Betancuria on the west coast (Puerto Rosario took over the mantle as island capital in 1835). The name of the island itself is believed to have come from Bethencourt's exclamation "Que forte aventure!" (What a grand adventure). A less romantic explanation is that the name simply means "strong wind".

Whatever the truth of the matter, Fuerteventura still offers the modern day visitor plenty of adventure. Here you can go shark fishing, kitesurfing, explore beautiful blue lagoons and volcanic hills.or just lie back and soak up the sun on some of the best beaches in Europe.

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