I am excited that I get to share with you my favourite Canary Island, Fuerteventura. I would say my favourite Spanish island, but that title still goes to Ibiza. But if you are looking for an almost moon-like island, with beautiful white beaches and stunning countryside, then this is the island for you.
This was my 3rd time here, but I got to do all of the things I had never done here before, like a trip to Los Lobos, snorkeling, and exploring the middle of the island too. If you like to be active on holiday, then Fuerteventura has it all, but still the option to sit back and relax too.
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We have flown with Thomas Cook Airlines many times, usually long haul, and we are big fans of their fantastic customer service and of course the great deals too. So when they invited me on a press trip to explore Fuerteventura and learn some more about travel photography, I knew that it was going to be a great and well organised trip.
Any kind of trip, whether for blog work or pleasure, always starts with a breakfast at Giraffe in the airport. It's the only place where you can get healthy options and for the first time in forever they were not sold out of avocado - that's a big deal for me. So, I went with the egg white omelette which came with an avocado salsa and I got some mushrooms and rye bread on the side. Unfortunately it took 40 minutes to come out (not the 15 that I was told), so I had to rush it and then leave half so I could get to my gate.
I missed my priority boarding (my own fault, well, Giraffe's fault), but boarding was all very smooth and easy. Unfortunately it wasn't a Thomas Cook plane I was on, but a Condor plane (their sister company), but it was clean and had lots of leg room, so that's all I was bothered about. I think they were having a bit of a bad day, as they didn't get their catering delivery, so they didn't have a fully stocked bar and were limited on soft drinks, but they were very apologetic and did the best they could, so you can't ask for more than that. 4 hours and 5 minutes went pretty quick and we landed safely. By the way, Thomas Cook Airlines have also just announced some new long-haul routes including Boston and L.A, which opens up the whole of the states to us in the UK.
The rest of the bloggers on the trip flew from Gatwick, so I met them all in baggage claim and we headed outside, where I took a photo of the sun straight away because, you know, it's been a long time since I have seen it. I will look back at that picture on cold and grey days in Manchester.
It's about a 40 minute transfer from the airport to Corralejo where we were staying, but with scenery like this is really didn't matter how long it took. Looking out the window, you would never have thought you were on a Spanish island, but more like travelling along Route 66 in the states. Being on a bus full of travel photographers, there were no complaints when someone asked if we could stop and get this shot. Picture this, 10 travel bloggers all standing in the middle of the road dodging traffic just the get this shot.
After dicing with death to get the perfect shot, we arrived at our hotel, Suite Hotel Atlantis Feurteventura Resort and we were quickly checked in whilst we sipped a cocktail. As we were a group, we got a private check-in, but even those we saw getting checked in at the desk were dealt with really quickly.
The first impressions of the resort were really good - clean, bright and very friendly staff.
All of the rooms at this resort are suites, so you will not be lacking in space. The rooms are simple, but they are clean and comfortable and have everything that you could need. I don't spend much time in the hotel room when on trips, so as long as it's somewhere I can get a good nights sleep I am happy.
The one issue I did have was with the internet. When it was connected, it wasn't very strong and it kept on losing connection too. Luckily, I always travel with my Tep Wireless portable wireless device, which means that I have WiFi wherever I am, not just in a hotel room. If you want to be connected to the Internet wherever you are, then get one of these. They are great value and I have never had problem with connection.
I had all this space to myself, which made a nice change for me. Travelling with Dave is great, but then I can't throw my clothes everywhere and make a mess. I won't subject you to the picture of my room after I "unpacked". I didn't unpack really, I just threw everything everywhere.
A walk in wardrobe almost tempted me to unpack properly, but we were only there for 4 days so it seemed like a bit of a waste of energy when there was exploring to do.
Now, the way for a hotel to really impress me is to give me free fruit. It was already about 4pm by now and I hadn't eaten since about 8am so I was really to eat. Not wanting to spoil my dinner, I pretty much devoured this basket of fruit.
I had a couple of hours before we were meeting up for dinner and whilst a nap was so tempting, I thought the more sensible option would be to head out and get some fresh air and have a bit of an explore. Having been to this part of Fuerteventura before, I knew where to go, but it was still just as beautiful seeing it all again.
I went for a long walk along the coastal path that was lined with these beautiful ocean facing houses. I found my dream house (below) and I sent a photo to Dave and he said "that wall needs re-tiling". Typical guy response!
My coastal walk was idyllic until my flip flop snapped. I know, who walks across this kind of rocky path with flip flops? So, there I was, a broken flip flop which now meant that I had to walk bear foot across all these rocks. Ouch! Luckily I found a path that went to the main road and I managed to find my way back. Walking bare foot along the road in England would fill me with terror, but this is seriously one of the cleanest places ever.
After I got over the trauma of "flip-flop gate", it was shower, change and out to meet the rest of the group for dinner. We were eating dinner in the hotel as they have so many different options. We went to the Spanish restaurant - "El Molino". Being a vegetarian now, my eating options when on holiday are always going to be limited, but the chefs were very accommodating and made me a vegetable pasta dish that was really tasty and packed full of veggies. It's a shame that I didn't get to have anything Spanish, with it being a Spanish restaurant, but everyone else enjoyed their meals.
I did get to enjoy the drinks though and we all indulged in this local drink of honey rum. You don't mix it with coke or anything, but you drink it straight. It's a really smooth drink - I bought a bottle to bring home and it went down very well at a party we had.
I think they felt sorry for me not being able to enjoy all the Spanish food, so I got to take this flower back to the room with me. How awesome is it, it looks like a bird!
Breakfast is always my favourite meal when on holiday. There are always vegetarian options and it's the easiest meal to be healthy with. I wasn't sure what the rest of the day would look like in terms of food, so I made sure I had a filling breakfast. I know that looks like a shot glass filled with wine at the bottom, but it's honey. Honest.
Today we had a long day ahead of us as we headed inland to explore the little villages and get a taste of local life. I much prefer to get away from the crowds and see the places where the locals live, rather than just stick to the resorts.
If you didn't know already, Fuerteventura is known for it's sand dunes. Mounds and mounds of dunes as far as the eye can see and you would be forgiven for thinking that you are in the middle of the desert, and not just a couple of miles away from a popular tourist resort. These dunes are often used in films, so although you might not have been yet, you have probably seen them on the screen.
One of the first things you noticed about Fuerteventura is how windy it is, so it's not a surprise that watersports and kite flying are popular here. We were actually there during a kite festival and they put some serious thought in to their kite design. We saw witches, dragons and giant fish flying across the sky.
Apart from the wind, the other thing that was noticeable was the heat. Fuerteventura is a fantastic winter resort as even in November it was in the high 20's. The breeze was very much welcomed because of this. I have actually only ever been in winter, as I think summer might be a bit too hot for me. If you are looking for some winter sun, don't think that you have to go long haul, as it's only 4 hours away!
Dotted around the countryside in Fuerteventura are lots of windmills, which provided us with some great photo opportunities and it was a good way for me to play around with my camera settings and see what it can really do. We were joined by a professional photographer who was there to give us tips and also help us change settings if we needed to.
This part of Fuerteventura is called Antigua (no, not that island) and it's totally different to what I have seen of Fuerteventura before and also so different from what people picture when they think of this island. I really think people are missing out by just sticking to the resorts, so either go on an organised trip or hire a car get out there in to the island.
As we climbed up in to the hills to our next official stop, we had a quick stop for photos at Mirador Morro Velosa which is an incredible look-out point over the island. It was nice to see it during the day, but we would be back here later that night to photograph some stars. That will be in a separate post, as I didn't want to bombard you with too many photos in one post.
It's a popular stop with lots of different tour buses all filling up an already busy road, so I would recommend getting there early to beat the crowds. There is nothing worse than groups of tourists getting in the way of your selfies ;)
We had a little bit of time before we needed to be at the next village, so we went to a local farm where they make cheese and have lots of different animals. This made me VERY happy, as any chance I get to spend with animals I will jump at. Plus, they had loads of goats and I am a little bit obsessed with goats. If you have seen videos of jumping goats, or goats in pyjamas, then you will know what I mean. None of these goats were in pyjamas, but there were just as adorable.
They had lots of adorable little piglets too.
This goat were certainly not camera shy.
I then made friends with the camels. I was trying to get a selfie with this one and it got a bit too close and tried to bite my head. It serves me right really.
Sassy little camel. Actually, not a little camel, a huge camel!
The next stop was the village of Betancuria, which was probably one of my favourite parts of the trip. A really pretty and tranquil village where tourists were few and far between and the locals were just going about their daily life. Like most villages like this, the church is the centre of it all and it didn't disappoint.
We spent an hour or so exploring the little side streets, admiring the cute houses and flower lined balconies whilst we soaked up the sun.
Some of the bloggers that were on the trip with me - a fun group and some of the best photographers I have met. I had serious camera envy!
Can you believe it, but this is the town hall. I want to live in a place where the town hall is as understated as this. It's just a much more simple way of life, and something that I very much crave.
I make it my mission on any trip I am on to find cats to befriend. I am always successful in finding cats, but not all of them want to make friends. What can I say, I am a crazy cat lady and miss my cats when I am away from them.
I would have happily sat underneath these trees with a cocktail and a good book, but there was still lots more of this beautiful island to see.
But, before we saw more of the island we needed to fill our bellies. And fill them we did! We stopped off at a very pretty little restaurant called El Horno which was packed full of locals even at 3pm.
There was some local goats cheese already waiting on the table for us and that's always a good sign of things to come for me. This cheese was rich, creamy and had a really distinct taste. I would have happily eaten just a plate of that too be honest.
I am not usually a fan of anything deep fried (which I am thankful for as it's one of the only unhealthy things I don't love), but these were battered and fried aubergines drizzled with honey and they were divine. Just the right touch of sweetness.
Sadly, once again, the vegetarian options were a little lacking and there was some confusion as to what a vegetarian actually was, but they were accommodating and put together this huge salad for me. I am always happy with a salad and to be honest I filled up on cheese anyway, so it wasn't a problem.
Then there was dessert. A dessert platter no less! This was to share and it really hit the spot. My favourite part of it was the fig and honey ice cream - it's not a flavour that I have tried before, but it is something I will be looking out for again.
We headed back to the hotel for some free time, which was much needed. Although press trips are amazing, it's not a holiday for us as we still have to work. I locked myself in my room for a couple of hours to get some work finished and then I headed to the pool for a bit to relax.
The Suites Atlantis hotel is very much a family friendly hotel and they have all the facilities to support that, including a couple of different pools. All the kids looked like they were having fun, and it's definitely somewhere I would come back to as a family.
Having tried one of the a-la-carte restaurants the night before, we went to the buffet the second night. I am a big fan of buffets, not just because I love food but because there is always a salad bar. This has to be one of the best buffets I have seen at an all-inclusive resort and we have been lucky enough to go to a few. It didn't have a crazy canteen vibe that some do and there was a lot of choice. Strangely, or maybe not strangely, the 2 photos I have of it are of a giant bowl of chillies and the chocolate fountain. I clearly have my priorities straight.
There were a lot of healthy options there though, so I was very impressed.
The next day we spent on a boat going to the island of Los Lobos and doing some snorkelling. But, that is going to be going in a separate post too, as I have lots of fish photos!
On the third night we got to try another a-la-carte restaurant and this time it was the Asian restaurant, Rambutan. There was lots of veggie options here and there put out some separate sushi for the veggies and vegans. There were also some live cooking stations where you could get noodle dishes made up. Most of it was very salty, but I expect that from Asian restaurants in general.
If you are looking for a party island, Fuerteventura isn't really the place. But, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a good night life. Things tend to be a bit more relaxed here and the focus is on the plaza that is lined with bars and live music in the centre. We headed to one of the British bars that had a Thomas Cook night out there with some quizzes and games. If you don't want to submerge yourself in to the local culture, then there is still lots to do.
I enjoyed a couple of gin and tonics, but this one looked a bit radioactive.
The next morning we had some free time before we all met up again for lunch, so I had a leisurely breakfast and met a new cat. There are a fair few cats at this hotel but I never see this as a bad thing. I took some ham out for them and this one very much enjoyed it.
We were staying fairly near to the hotel I stayed at last time, so I knew there was a shopping centre near by that I could maybe do a bit of early Christmas shopping (this was last November by the way, I am not that prepared for Christmas 2016), pick up some stuff from the supermarket and climb the clock tower.
I remember the last time that I climbed this clock tower I was terrified. It was in the middle of my weight loss and my phobia of stairs was at its peak. I was scared that if climbed too many stairs I would have a panic attack and die or something. But I took it slow and made my way to the top and saw it as one of my biggest achievements.
This time, I practically ran up the clock tower like it was no big deal, but it was a big deal, as it just shows how far I have come.
The view from the top is definitely worth it, as you get panoramic views of this beautiful island, with Los Lobos in the distance.
I had a little peak in the sports store and fell in love with pretty much every pair of shoes there, but I really don't need any more running shoes at the moment. Do I?!
One of my favourite things about travelling is going in to the local supermarkets and checking out the local produce. Everything is just so much fresher than ours and there are so many more colours. I bought some fruit to snack on and some Canarian sauce as well as some chocolate to take home to Dave.
I can't resists a smoothie bar, especially when they are advertising one that had gin in it. Gin smoothie?
We met up for lunch at our hotel's sister hotel, the Grand Atlantis Bahia Real. This hotel is 5 stars and worth every star. It has a totally different feel to our hotel, which is more family friendly, and this one is much more focused on adults and relaxation.
The views from the reception area are just beautiful and I wanted to dive straight in the to sea. The sea is a little rough, so you have to be a confident swimmer to get in.
They have a beautiful beachside restaurant called Coco Beach Lounge which extends out in to the sea a little to give you gorgeous views whilst you enjoy some delicious local food.
We started off with a cold soup, that was kind of like gazpacho, but it wasn't. It was delicious though.
If I had to eat just one thing on this trip, it would be Canarian potatoes. I have eaten a ton of these every time I have been to the Canary islands and I would happily eat a ton more. These little salty potatoes come with a side of Mojo Rojo and Mojo Verde, which are the green and red sauce. The green sauce is more herby, whereas the red sauce is more paprika and spicy. I am obsessed. I am going to be sharing a recipe for these potatoes very soon.
We also enjoyed a cocktail or two. I mean, look where we are! It would be rude not to.
We got back on to our little mini bus and headed off to the west of the island to El Cotillo which is a beach area famous for it's surfing spots and stunning sunsets. This was another opportunity for us to get some great tips from the professional photographer on how to capture the sunset and how to handle the changing light.
This is such a beautiful part of the island and really reminded me of the Californian coast. So, if you want to see California, but don't want to travel that far, then consider Fuerteventura.
This guy was just too cool for school has he sat on his motorbike waiting for the sun to set. One of the other bloggers asked him if we could photograph him and he happily obliged.
We sat down on the beach for well over an hour waiting for the sun to set. Watching the birds dip in and out of the water, watching the surfers catch a wave and soaking up the last of the day's sun. It's moments like this that I am truly thankful for my job and I realise just how blessed I am.
We had a free evening that night, if people wanted to head in to town to go to a restaurant, but sadly I had loads of work to catch up on so after a quick stop at the buffet I headed back to my room to contend with a mountain of emails.
Sadly, it was time to go home the next day. Our flights were not until later that afternoon, so we had the morning to relax and headed to the 5* sister hotel the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia to chill out and enjoy the spa if we wanted to. I couldn't be bothered to use the spa and then get changed again after, so I sat around the pool and started on some photo editing for this post.
This hotel really does have a totally different feel to it. It's very grand and upscale and there is a lot of attention to detail. We are actually looking at going back to Fuerteventura soon and staying at this hotel too.
Poolside here is very different from our hotel, with no children running around, so it was the perfect way to end a busy trip. Under the sun, surrounded by palm trees.
Sadly we didn't get to eat at the hotel again, so we picked something up at the airport instead. I always get so angry at how poor the healthy eating choices are in UK airports, as everywhere else in the world manages to get it right. I found a salad bar that charges by the plate and filled it up. Heaven!
Having been to Fuerteventura before, I thought I knew what to expect but this island really surprised me. The rugged coast line, the pretty little villages, the friendly locals that will do anything to help and a laid back vibe that you don't find on the other Spanish islands. If you are looking for an island that has something for everyone, that take a look at Fuerteventura, where you can fly to with Thomas Cook Airlines.
Let’s stay in touch!
**I was a guest of Thomas Cook on this trip, however all opinions are my own**