The North, Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura translates as “Strong Winds” and is the closest you can get to the conditions of Maui on a cheap charter flight. The north of the island has less wind than the south, but picks up a swell with some great surfing and windsurfing to be had. There is a very high local standard of windsurfing so you won’t be alone on a mast-and-a-half day, nor will you be short of inspiration when it comes to freestyle. However, on our trip we saw all levels and certainly progressed ourselves.

Fact File

Windy Season All year round but more wind in summer, more swell in winter.
Average Wind Speed 15-25Knots
Flight Time (From UK) 4 hours
How To Get There

Europeans love their two week package to the Canaries and consequently there are dozens of charter companies offering flights from national and regional airports. We travelled from Birmingham with MyTravel Airways. Our flights cost £150 each and we booked about 2 weeks in advance. However beware, they don’t have a clear cut policy on windsurfing kit and initially tried to charge us £150 each. In the end we paid £30 each a double board bag and a quiver bag and explained that one bag was the boards and the other the sails. Make sure each bag weighs UNDER 32kg. (This is very important!)

Possible Flight Companies:

Note: Do check the policy of the airline on windsurfing kit before buying your ticket.

PACKAGE DEALS

Sportif have been sending clients to Sotavento for 23 years! They currently send 25 sailors every week. Their prices start from £477 staying at the 4 star Sol Gorriones for 7 nights, half board, flights AND car hire as there is no transfer available from the airport www.sportif.travel Tel. 01273 844919

CAR HIRE

You will need a car. The cheapest way is to book is online before you get there.www.holidayautos.co.uk is a cheap company with cars available from £99 for the week. We rented a car without a roof-rack. It was a VW Polo and the roof held the weight of 4 boards and 2 quiver bags for the week without denting the roof at all. But to be on the safer side we found that you can get a roof rack with these companies: www.cicar.com Tel. + (34) 928511126

www.flagbeach.com (They can also act as your holiday agent and organize everything for you other than flights, but we are not sure how cheap it would work out)

You will load/unload the car many times, and will have to commit the whole afternoon to going windsurfing in order to get the best conditions. But with the effort comes the reward of absolutely amazing conditions.

How The Wind Works

The trade wind blows from the north or north-east. It is most reliable from in June/July but is predominant from May till late August.

The wind normally kicks in at lunchtime, but there is sometimes stronger wind as late as 8pm. The wind splits in its route around Fuerte. This means that there are two different wind directions at the east and west sides of the island. If the wind is dropping on the east side of the island, it’s probably due to a stronger wind on the west side so get that kit in the car and off you go! The wind does ‘switch off’ come September and the autumn months are great for swell but not so for wind; however, it can get good. Best to go for a couple of weeks to guarantee some sailing. February has been known to be windy every day. Simply said, you chance it in the winter and autumn with wind.

The Sailing Spots

Flag Beach

How to get there? Head south for 3km from Corralejo towards the airport. You will see the Flag Beach Centre just before two large hotels on the left. Parking is on the side of the road. You must walk to the beach.
Beach faces: East
Best wind direction: North/North-west
Worst wind direction: Easterly as this gives choppy bump and jump and onshore waves.
Tide: Fair tidal range, but sailable at all states of the tide.High to mid tide is best.
What’s on the bottom?: Sand with occasional rocks
Any hazards: Parking in the sand on the side of the road and getting run over.
Other water users: Kite surfers, some swimmers.
Suitability/levels: All levels.If easterly it’s lumpy and hard to learn, but very safe.Very good jumping if northerly (cross-shore from the left).
Wipeout factor: 3/10. A reef 400 yards off the beach at high tide reduces the shore break and rescue cover is available.

Glass Beach

How to get there? Continue past Flag beach until the road runs parallel to the beach about 150m from the water. There are two beach shacks and car parking on the left.
Beach faces: East/South-east
Best wind direction: Northerly
Worst wind direction: Easterly
Tide: High tide is much easier for launching but it works at all states.
What’s on the bottom?: Sand on the beach, but the waves break over sharp rock.
Any hazards: The possibility of wind dropping at the end of the day makes for a tricky return to the beach.Again, unloading kit on the side of a main road.
Other water users: Surfers.
Suitability/levels: Intermediates to Advanced.
Wipeout factor: 8/10. The average waves on the reef are boom-to-logo high and break onto sharp rock. The rip will eventually take you off the rocks into the deep channel but no chances your kit will survive intact. The beach break is no problem.

Punta de Blanca

How to get there? At main roundabout outside Corralejo, follow signs to the Harbour. On your left there is a hotel and a bus depot. Turn left onto a dusty track where the trucks and buses are parked. Follow the track along the coast. The ocean is always in sight and the track gets progressively worse. Continue until you see windsurfers parked up. On your first day ensure someone else is there by arriving around 3pm .
Beach faces: North-west
Best wind direction: North-east, starboard tack
Worst wind direction: North/North-westerly (onshore)
Tide: High tide means launching from a sandy beach with no beach break.Mid tide has the biggest waves.Low Tide means launching off a rocky outcrop which is very sharp but there are no waves as the deep channel runs along a rocky outcrop. Wetsuit shoes are advisable!(Watch the locals launch first or ask for advice as everyone is v. friendly.)
What’s on the bottom?: Rocks
Any hazards: Stay well clear of rocks on the far side of the bay as the waves break hard here.
Other water users: Quite a secluded beach making for an uncrowded break except at the weekend.
Suitability/levels: Advanced
Wipeout factor: 8/10. This spot picks up the most swell on the island. Pick your days carefully if you’re not an expert wave sailor.

El Cotillo

How to get there? Drive to El Cotillo, stay on the straight road as you drive in passing the British Supermarket on the left. Turn left after the supermarket and you will come to a view point and old fortress. From here you have to navigate your way on the best used dirt tracks along the top of the cliff until you are further down the beach. You can either rig up on the cliff or the beach, but carrying it complete can be tricky in the wind.
Beach faces: West
Best wind direction: North-east, 5m weather should give you head high waves
Worst wind direction: Easterly
Tide: High tide produces less of a shore dump.
What’s on the bottom?: Mainly sand.
Any hazards: The shore dump. This can be very hazardous if the waves are big. You will have time for a bottom turn and aerial before hitting the sand.
Other water users: Too many windsurfers. This place can get very crowded due to ease of access.
Suitability/levels: Intermediates to Advanced. Also good for photos.
Wipeout factor: 2/10 to 9/10 depending on the shore-break! Either very close in riding and beachstart jumping, or excellent slalom, bump and jump conditions further out.
Water State

In the summer months most of the swell is trade-wind driven. Thus, after a week of no wind, the waves are smaller. The average wave size produced by the trade winds is boom-to-logo high. During the winter the swell is almost always driven by Atlantic storms, so you only need to look for a low pressure system to ensure you will have wind. A good option is to phone up Witchcraft Boards, based on the island and ask what the conditions are going to be. Tel. + (34) 660382646 or email:info@witchcraft.nu.

Instruction And Kit Hire

The only place we found to get instruction and rent decent kit once you’re out there iswww.flagbeach.com (which is literally on the beach!). They stock North Sails and Fanatic Boards from 3.3m to 7.8m. Prices: 45 euro a day, 185 euro a week. They do allow you to take their kit to other beaches if you have the means to do it but they wouldn’t provide sail/board bags for the kit, straps or roof pads which we found a bit strange.

Instruction:

  • 3 day Beginner Course (12hours): 120 euro
  • 2 day Improver Course (8hours): 90 euro

Advanced Courses are 30 euro per hour and can cover anything you want from vulcans to spocks to looping. Coaches include local Pros Will Ward and Steve Gibson.

Accommodation

We stayed at a hostel; it was cheap and basic, but did the job. The hostel atmosphere gave us instant local knowledge of the local spots and lots of folk to go partying with who all speak English.

Here are some options:

Sol y mar Hostal: Contact www.flagbeach.com. Costs 15 euro/night including breakfast.

Ineika surf Hostal: Another surfing hostel in Corralejo.

Corralejo Hotel: In front of Corky’s bar and frequented by the Pros during July.

Go to www.fuerteventura.com which provides details of all of the above + many more apartments and villas on the island.

Also try www.corkysbar.com for accommodation info.

PrimaSol Self-catering apartments and hotel .

www.primasol.com or email las.res@itc-spain.com

Talk to Angela Saffino for a deal if staying for more than a week. A two person apartment, self-catering costs 40 euro per night. A four person apartment, self catering costs 60 euro/night. This is based on prices for June and will increase slightly for July/August. Rate for a two person apartment for the month of June is 500 euro so definitely ask for a deal by email. The apartments are really nice and the location is good, if a bit far from the town. Tel. + (34) 928535097

Food

EATING OUT

Thai Salsa is on the Harbour Front, next to a crap restaurant called Sotavento. The Thai restaurant plays quiet dance/trance music which is quite amusing. The service is very good and in typical Thai style, they are very polite. The portions were large and tasted good. Prices were as low as 8 euros per meal, so if you could eat without buying a drink then it worked out at about £5 each.

Gibson’s Restaurant and Bar is run by Steve and his wife. They produce some amazing food for a good price, with portions big enough to fill the hungriest windsurfer after a long days sailing. The menu has some very English dishes, e.g. lasagne, cottage pie etc. We decided on “turf and surf”(scampi and steak). It cost 12 euros and was absolutely massive and a mission to finish. Meals here are slightly more expensive but are of a much higher quality. The restaurant is situated further up the high street, away from the harbour and up a side street on the right.

Paneho Villa Mexican Restaurant is a little more out of town near Sol y Mar hostel. It has really nice food at a very reasonable price. It is found on the road, “Calle Pizariez.”

During our stay we found that most of the restaurants on the Harbour were overpriced and did not have the greatest portion sizes. The best restaurants were more tucked away down side streets or further up the high street. The three restaurants above were the most reasonably priced and had the best portion sizes for a hungry windsurfer.

EATING IN

All the hostels have good self-catering kitchens.

Supermarkets: We used the HyperDino in Corralejo at the Harbour end of town. This seemed to be very reasonable priced. There is also a British Foods Supermarket on the way in to El Cotillo, which sells fruit squash and other British essentials. This is more expensive.

Nightlife

Corralejo has plenty of nightlife action but you must remember nothing starts happening until late!

Corky’s Bar (closes 2.30am): This is a true windsurfer’s bar with the latest DVD’s being played, a forecast on the wall and plenty of pool tables. Corky is always around and he will always know where the best break will be for the following day.www.corkysbar.com

Kiwi Bar (closes 2.30am): Found in the same complex as Corky’s. Loaded with hot South American girls who just love English windsurfers. (At least this was the case when we were there!) This is a much quieter bar than Corky’s.

Mafasca Club (kick out 6am if you’re man enough!!!)After Corky’s the best place to go is straight upstairs to The Mafasca Club which doesn’t really get going until 3 or 4am . There is another club but it’s very expensive and has a lot of attitude which I would avoid.

Local beer: 3.50 euro/pint. You can also get most English beers.

Check out Corky’s for some wicked cocktails that will get you nailed.

Bored Of Windsurfing

1. Vulcano Biking: Tel: 928 535706. Trek Mountain Bikes from 6 euro/day to 12 euro/day for a full suspension. You can also hire Inline Skates at 3 euro/day. This is located in the Corralejo town centre.

2. Dolphin Safari: A guided safari on a 40ft yacht to Lobos Island marine national park. Snorkel and swim in the famous waters. Buffet provided on board with unlimited wine beer and soft drinks.

3. British Dive School: www.abyssdivers.com, 1:1 ratio in training, 1:2 during dive

Two dives all included costs 60 euro. Open water padi course costs 335 euro. They also run snorkel dolphin trips and game fishing trips. Tel. 928537297 Mobile : 661731414. Padi Dive school with English instructors. Tel. 686725327, Mobile : 928863207

4. JEEP Safari day excursion, including lunch. Adult 48 euro, child 42 euro. Tel: 928771740, Mobile : 696083598

5. Quad adventure: Runs every day at 10am for a 4.5hrs, 42miles trip and at 4pm for a 2.5hrs, 30miles trip. Sundays only: full day special tour including 75 miles on untouched territory. Tel: 928866552 Mobile : 660099694 or 637239229

6. Ferry to Lanzarote for the day. Corralejo to Puerto del Carmen 10:15 16:45. Puerto del Carmen TO Corralejo 08:45 15:15. Boarding 15 mins before departure. Trip takes one hour. Booking Tel: 928516113, Mobile : 629731293

7. Helicopter tour of island: 50mins trip costs 266 euro per person. 30mins trip costs 166 euro per person. Tel. 676701693

Hot Tips

OFF THE WATER:

Take lots of food/snacks with you and plenty of water when you go to the beach.

Be prepared to wait for the wind and take rests in between sessions so that you can sail for 4 hours plus per day. It is too slow to drive back to Corralejo on the North road and not great for the car either, so stay all day.

If you need to get online while you’re away there is a really cheap quick internet café on the high street (see pic) that also do really good ice creams.

Do watch out at Glass & Flag with parking in the sand by the roadside. Cars get stuck every day. The road is also very dangerous with fast traffic so be careful!

ON THE WATER:

If there are no windsurfers at the beach, you’re at the wrong one. Wait with the guys who know what is going on. DO NOT drive around from beach to beach all day. Corky’s Bar provides quality info and forecasts on the best spots and is happy to advise so best to pop in the night before for a quiet one!

If the trade wind is north-easterly, the wind splits around the island producing an onshore easterly at Flag Beach, but a north-easterly at Punta and a northerly at El Cotillo.

If there is no wind or an easterly at Flag, then go to Punta or El Cotillo. Cotillo seemed to have 5+knots more than Punta when both were working.

The North-east trade wind blows all summer but sometimes not strong enough in the north so head down south to Sotavento to mix it with the slalom boys! See Sotavento Travel Feature.

Conclusion

This venue has a huge amount to offer all year around but the wind is more consistent in the summer. However if you’re a surfer as well, an autumn or even Christmas break is better than the cold seas around Northern Europe. It is a great place to learn new moves due to the reliability of conditions and has just the right range of windsurfers to help you progress.

Tourist

Name: Oli Woodcock
Local beach in UK: Avon Beach, Christchurch .
How many years sailing: 11years
Last windsurf move you cracked: Loop and Vulcan.
What you’re working on now: Back Loop and Spock.
Other: RYA National Junior Squad Coach.
Sponsors: www.spotonwater.comwww.604distribution.com, North Sails and Mistral Boards.

Name: Hugh Sims Williams
Local beach in UK: Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol.
How many years sailing: 11years.
Last windsurf move you nailed: Loop
What you’re working on now: Flat water loops, vulcans.
Other: 1st National Formula fleet (<11m), 2005
Sponsors: www.windsurfersworld.comwww.star-board.com,www.tushingham.com, O’Neill wetsuits.

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