Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Photo: Dirk Vorderstraße (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Dirk Vorderstraße (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
How do you take your beaches? White sand or black sand? Smooth or rocky? Calm water or strong waves? Fun and crowded or quiet and hidden? Sunrise or sunset facing? There are so many options, it’s hard to choose. Luckily, on Fuerteventura, you don’t have to.

Fuerteventura is one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. A biosphere reserve covers much of the volcanic island. It’s nickname is the “Island of Eternal Spring” for its year-round perfect weather. While beaches line more than 125 miles of the coastline. The east coast is known for its fine white sand that blew across the water from the Sahara. The west coast has dark sand, steep cliffs, and volcanic formations. The two sides couldn’t be more different. But they’re both stunning.

Start your morning on Sotavento on the southeast coast as the sun rises. The 17-mile-long beach is one of the longest and most beautiful on the island. Blue-green water is dotted with early morning windsurfers, kiteboarders, and surfers. Fine light sand seems to stretch forever. Sand dunes offer nude sunbathers a little protection from the strong wind. While little seafood restaurants, which haven’t opened for the day yet, sit just beyond them.

Photo: Hansueli Krapf. This file was uploaded with Commonist. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Hansueli Krapf. This file was uploaded with Commonist. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
From Sotavento, head north to Corralejo. The northeastern tip of the island seems busier with resorts and second homes beyond the marina. But keep going until you find the Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo. The nature park’s long beach has golden sand, crystal-clear water, more wind-sport enthusiasts, and a little beach bar. Lobos and Lazaretto Islands sit just offshore. While small stone castles act as shields from the wind.

If Corralejo starts to feel a bit crowded, move to the other side of Fuerteventura. The northwestern section of the island is quiet and undeveloped. Unlike the east coast, the beaches don’t extend for miles at El Cotillo. Instead, lava rocks separate the white-sand beaches—the contrast is striking—into lots of mini lagoons. They’re calm and perfect for snorkelers and swimmers.

After spending hours playing in El Cotillo’s little bays, you finally head south to see one more beach. In Ajuy, bright blue water crashes into ancient caves and black sand, and cliffs drop into the rough sea. This is not a swimming beach. But it’s still gorgeous. Follow the paved path along the edge of the cliffs. Listen to waves batter the lava formations. Watch the sun disappear over the Atlantic. Then try to decide which Fuerteventura beach was your favorite. It will be the toughest decision you’ve made all day.

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