Fuerteventura February 2017

.

The Royal Palm Hotel was our base for the week

Introduction

What follows is a commentary on our stay on the island of Fuerteventura. It's not intended to be comprehensive, but flags up a few things that might be useful to have in mind if visiting the island.

We stayed for the first week in February 2017 and were lucky enough to enjoy warm (max 22 degrees celsius) and sunny weather. Unlike our experience on Lanzarote, there was no chilling wind, only light breezes that helped us from not getting too hot when walking. However, on exposed parts of the west coast there could be a light, cool wind when standing on exposed cliffs.

Arrival

Our hotel, the Royal Palm, was located near Butihondo which is at the south-west end of the island. From the airport, where we picked up our hire car, it took an hours fast drive reach the hotel. Generally speaking, the roads are excellent. They range from modern dual carriageway through to minor roads which are well surfaced. There are many off-road tracks, though a four wheel drive vehicle would be a sensible option for these.

Adults only

This wasn't an expensive holiday. For flights and half board it was about £520 per person. However, looking at the photos of the hotel you could be forgiven for thinking it looked up-market. Indeed, we came away with very favorable impressions of the facilities, catering and staff. There were no children which probably helped give it a more tranquil atmosphere.

Levels of experience

There was no getting away from the fact the the hotel was large, indeed vast by our standards. So, under normal circumstances we would shy away from choosing a place like this. But, it was only after booking and reading reviews that we realised what we were letting ourselves in for.

With a little trepidation on our arrival, we were relieved to find a modern, spacious and airy interior to the building. Typical of many of the large hotels, from the outside it presented an 'international' architectural style that left you feeling it could be anywhere in the world. However, on entering this gave way to an interior with a refined, tasteful modern elegance that played well to our taste. Having said that, many of the reviews had been critical of the hotel's size and extent (leading to people losing their way). And, while it is large, we found it easy to navigate. Though that was easier to achieve once we had worked out that the hotel was built on three levels down a slope ending at the cliff top.

Calm and quiet

Our impression was that the hotel was not quite full, but there were still plenty of people about judging by the numbers using the restaurant. The size and layout of the hotel meant that people were well dispersed and there was never a feeling that anybody was having to compete for space. Indeed, it was always very easy to find quiet places to sit and enjoy a drink in the sun or shade.

There were two main areas that had external pools and, as the photos suggest, these didn't appear to be overused. There was a good sized internal pool in the spa facility that the more serious swimmers were making use of. Moreover, while the photos were taken in the earlier and later times of day, the poolside areas never looked overly busy between those times.

No need to throw towels over sunloungers before breakfast to 'bag your spot'. Indeed, it's not allowed!
Looking down onto the third level which was positioned above the cliff face and beach. This area was the most popular for those that wanted to chill out by the poolside. It was a smaller, more intimate area that probably added to its attraction.
Looking down onto the beach which is accessed through a secured gate and pathway (see right of photo). As can be seen, the beach was used but not overly so. Many people enjoyed a walk along it at low tide, though at high tide access either way was restricted. Whilst it is regarded as a beach for nudity, it wasn't easily evident.
All external areas, including the pools, were well cared for by a team of maintenance staff.
One of the bar areas where it felt we had the place to ourselves.
Service by staff was always prompt, helpful and friendly.
The airy and spacious reception area.
One of the atriums and the four floor levels of the hotel

Room 1055

With spooky predictability, we found that our room had a view over a car park. Or, to be more precise, an area of desolation that was 'enhanced' by the odd container, vehicle and debris. Obviously, a site for the next hotel.

If visually, this didn't have a lot going for it, it got a little worse once we found that our room was located just above the loading bay for delivery lorries. This meant enjoying the 5.00am (?) loading of wheeled laundry cages as they were rolled into the back of a large lorry. Add to this, various banging, thumping, whining and crashing of activity below us at late and early hours. It could have merited a request to move rooms, but instead, we just chose not to get obsessed with it.

For people who would find this intolerable, it would be worth making sure you didn't get placed in room 1055 or any of the two rooms or so either sde. So, with hindsight, I think we would have been better off booking a superior room (at extra cost) instead of what was practically a bargain basement room. Having said that, we are confident that staff would have re-allocated us into another room if we had requested that. Furthermore, the room we had was of a high standard, spacious and with a large comfortable bed.

A consolation with the position of our room was that it captured sunrise.

Out and about

If you are the sort of person who likes chilling out and using the hotel's facilities for most of the time, you will be well catered for. But, if like us, you get stir crazy after a couple of hours then you will need a form of escape. Ours was a hire car for the week.

Without a hire car you would be reliant on organised coach trips (against my religion ;-), taxi or by foot. And, if using the latter, it's a far from scenic walk to the nearest area of interest. This is a result of the planning of these hotel developments, which while being done to a good standard within the footprint of the hotel and its grounds, is merely an island within a sea of wasteland that's waiting for the next concrete fantasies to rise from the ground.

If you don't mind driving abroad, and we don't, a car will get you to most parts of the island. What follows are just a few highlights of the places we visited.

Traditional windmills can be seen in a few places. This one is a well preserved example and benefits from not having buildings around it.

Ajuy and Playa de los Muertos

This is a cove situated midway up the west coast and is reached on a road (FV-621) from Pajara. It's main claim to fame are some sea cliff caves. But part of its attraction is the heavy sea swell and crashing waves on the rocky shore and pebbly beach.

There are a couple of basic beach-side restaurants (one much more basic than the other!) from which to have a drink while enjoying the sight of the turbulent surf. Parking is relatively easy. This is also one of the places that the Fuerteventura Chat can be seen. The island is the only place in the world that it exists.

A small splash in comparison to some of the huge breakers that were coming in.
It never felt busy with people wherever we went
The path leading back from the sea cliff caves
An observation point overlooking some of the caves on the other side of the inlet.
It's hard work, but someone has to do it!
Looking south west down the coast.

Playa del Matorral

Located between Jandia and Morro Jable, this beach sandy beach is expansive. The lighthouse is the dominant land mark and is the place where one of the board walks goes down to the beach. On the landward side is a palm lined boulevard fronted with shops and cafes.

The board walk leading to the lighthouse
Sunbeds and parasols screened by wind breaks are found at regular intervals along the beach. When this photograph was taken not many were in use, but their numbers imply the beach gets many visitors during the busy season.
A life guard hut. It was manned with two guards.
Where the board walk ended on the beach there was a restaurant where we enjoyed a coffee.
Where is everybody else? We didn't mind.
Having warm sunny weather makes anywhere seem nice. Though that's not too difficult here!
The palm trees add a tropical feel

Playas de La Pared

This is the nearest west coast destination accessible by road from our hotel base. It's off the FV-605, north of Costa Calma. As can be seen from the photo, it has a fine black grit beach.

There are three or so places to get a drink or a meal and to enjoy the sunshine. At lunchtime it can be popular, particularly on weekends with the Spanish islanders. Having said that, it wasn't bustling with people and had a nice feel about the place.

There isn't anything by the way of attractions, but the beach is visually intersting.
There can be a sea breeze on the west coast.
Once the coffee has been ordered it's time for people watching.
The black beach is a nice foil for photographing people.
Cliffs rise above the beach on both sides of the small cove. This is on the south side looking south west down the coast.

Betancuria

The ancient capital of the island was a delightful surprise. Whilst the rest of the island can't lay claim to buildings of any great architectural merit, Betancuria proved to be the exception. It's historical buildings might only comprise a small area, but what it lacks in size it makes up in interest. As the photos show, there is a handsome vernacular style which has sadly not been replicated at other sites around the island.

It was quiet when we visited which made it a pleasant experience.
The church tower dominates the skyline.
Blindingly white walls reflect the sunlight.
Another view, another photo.
There are steps, but not many.
This would be a good place to have a drink and something to eat in the towns restaurants.
Betancuria is on the coach tour itinerary, so it might get busy at times.
Everything about the historic centre gave the impression that it was cared for.
A happy visitor!
As to be expected, there were small shops catering for tourists.
Just about been there, seen it.

De Jandis Natural Parque

The parque is located in the far south west of the island and was within easy reach, by car, from out hotel. It was the best area for level walking we found. Essentially a rocky desert area, it is crossed by tracks that can be easily followed.

We parked just off the road to La Pared, at the east end of the parque . It felt safe to leave the car and walk off. While we occasionally saw other walkers in the far distance, it always felt we were on our own and could enjoy the atmosphere of the place.

Turning off the tarmac road onto one of the main tracks gets you to suitable spots to leave your car.
A small community of dwellings in a compound is to be found further down the track towards the coast. This though, was the only habitation for miles within the parque.
The main track had way markers.
Setting off in the earlier part of the day meant an extra layer of clothing.
Ten minutes later it was down to tee-shirts.
Walking was easy, though some sections of the track got stony under foot.
Despite being unobtrusive, the wildlife of area was good. In particular, there seemed to be a good population of Black-bellied Sandgrouse.
Those little stones always manage to find their way into shoes!
Despite the dry looking conditions, the flora was rich and widespread.

Tarajelejo

One of the frustrating features of many of the coastal resorts is the way in which the large hotels have been allowed to commandeer the beach frontage and access to it. This means that it's hard to find nice promenades from which to enjoy a walk or quiet sit on a bench.

Tarajelejo was one of the few places to have a promenade and it was nice to enjoy a walk along it. At the time we were there it was relatively quiet, but had a nice vibe to it and looked as though the local authority had given some thought to its layout, design and up-keep.

The facilities along the beach and promenade were good.
Despite a few other people making use of the frontage, it felt as though we had the place to ourselves.
The temperature was perfect.
Sitting at the one of the few cafes there were.

And finally...

Fuerteventura has a lot going for it. Though admittedly our opinion is coloured by the wall to wall sunshine that we enjoyed throughout the week. Add to that the fact we had a hire car and could explore all corners of the island, it was difficult not to get the most out of our stay.

We preferred the island to Lanzarote. Fuerteventura has a softer, warm coloured landscape compared to the harsher, blacker volcanic looking parts of Lazarote. A week's stay felt about enough. Any longer and we would have begun repeating our experiences.

The island had a quiet feel about it that suited us.
Typical landscape of the interior of the island.
Created By
Mike Hodgson
Appreciate

Credits:

Photography and text by Mike Hodgson

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.