We returned last week from 10 days away on the sunny island of Fuerteventura (in the Canary Islands). We have visited the Canary Islands in the winter for several years now. My husband has a very physical outdoor job, as a Landscape Gardener and Designer and this is his quiet period, so we make sure we get away every winter for him to rest and warm his acheing muscles and it is a wonderful pick me up for us all. We also really craved some family time after all the viruses of December; it really was wonderfully relaxing and we regained our strength by the third/fourth day.
My husband and I fantasise of going to India, Egypt, Asia or somewhere exotic, but our children are both Highly Sensitive (there is a book about children like this – I have mentioned it before and will go into more detail in another post as I am currently reading the book and find it fascinating) and are quite inflexible about travel; taking a long time to adapt to a new environment and relax, so we try to keep things comfortable and simple for them as much as possible. I understand this trait as I am also slow to adapt to new environments and it takes me a good couple of days to find my feet in a new place and relax. A week’s holiday is out of the question for us or I would only get 4 days of relaxation inbetween settling and packing to go home!
It is the third time we have visited this island. We stayed in a resort near the airport called Caleta de Fueste, which is relatively quiet. We mainly do very simple things and like to switch off completely; to media and to outside influences and just have quiet family time. The children are still at an age where they can play for hours with a few toys and whatever they find around the place, so my husband and I managed to read and chat and slowly plan our forthcoming trip to the States in July (so excited!). We are taking a road trip from Colorado, where we are visiting a friend, to Portland, Oregon, where other friends are living. The planning is half the fun! We have booked the flights and car hire and are slowly working on the itinerary and accommodation. We have travelled a lot together and separately in the past and love it, but as I mentioned our daughters take time to adjust, so we are planning the trip with them in mind. To that end, we are going to stay at most locations for at least a couple of days and mainly in holiday homes, so we can cook and eat familiar foods with a home base. More of that to come…
Anyway, back to Fuerteventura! I just thought I would share a few of our favourite things to do on the Island. Our children are not big beach goers as they don’t like sand sticking to their wet bodies, so we didn’t spend much time there, but we did swim a couple of times. Caleta has a man-made white sandy beach. Part of it is currently being redone, but we found a nice sheltered area to swim in and it was just about warm enough to stay in for half an hour. The outside temperature was around 20C most days, but the sea (ocean!) felt very cool – similar to swimming in the UK in the summer!
I would highly recommend a visit to the Oasis Park Zoo in the South of the Island. We have visited three times now as it really is amazing. The zoo is set in a Botanical Garden in the midst of an arid landscape. On the drive in, we noted a few goats dotted around, grazing on dry looking bushes and the occasional tuft of grass, but on arrival the lush planting and vivid colours really took our breath away; being in such sharp contrast to the surrounding area. We immediately felt relaxed as we left the barren landscape behind us. The planting really softens the feel of the zoo. It feels really organic and although the animals are caged off, their accommodation is generally spacious and naturalistic and they are well cared for. My daughters love animals and we have taken so many photos of the zoo in years gone by, I decided only to take a few this time to share here.
We did get to see some hippos and giraffes being fed which was entertaining, especially seeing the hippos mouths with all their rows of teeth – fascinating!
We also watched a sealion show and a bird of prey show, which were both very enjoyable (if a bit scary – the birds of prey flew quite close overhead!). The sealions are so sweet, clever and affectionate, they really captured our hearts.
The Botanical Gardens themselves are magnificent, with many species of cacti, bromeliads and of course (my favourite) the Bird of Paradise. It really is an oasis in the desert!
It is a bit pricey, but if you get there early, several shows are included and there is plenty to see and enjoy.
Before the zoo, we stopped off in Costa Calma for a light lunch and picked up some delicious German cake from Cafe Berlin. They have the best German bread selection and the cake is mouthwateringly good. There is a small sun terrace around the outside of the cafe and there are even a couple of Strandkoerbe to sit in (large basket seating that people can sit in on North German beaches – I loved them as a child!).
Another place well worth a visit is the Sand Dunes near Corralejo in the North. We all loved running down the Dunes and our daughters don’t mind dry sand! They still have sand in their hair over a week later! There is white sand for as far as the eye can see. Quite breathtaking.
As you can see we all had lots of fun. My youngest decided to turn her cardigan back to front so she could protect her eyes from the sand!
There are lots of other things to do on Fuerteventura, including plenty of water sports (the winds are very strong at times – hence the name Fuerteventura!). We always take a few trips out as we hire a car, but generally we try to take things easy whilst the children are still young. You can read more of what we got up to here and here.
And last but not least, we enjoyed our favourite coconut ice cream from the supermarket Mercadonna 🙂 They are basically coconut shell halves filled with delicious coconut ice cream and as you can see the girls are very excited to have them again as a special holiday treat!
We have taken the shells back home so we can use them to make bird feeders 🙂
On a side note, we play cards a lot on holiday. This year for Christmas we treated ourselves to the game Rat-a-Tat-Cat which I would highly recommend. It is a competitive game – we are used to cooperative games here – but it is so much fun and suitable for 7yrs +, so we all got the hang of it quickly and loved playing it (at home, in cafes, in restaurants, at the airport – you get the picture 😉 ). There is some strategy involved but it is also the luck of the draw.
That concludes my fourth post on our holiday and now back to home life for a while. I enjoyed reminiscing a little with you and sharing the highlights of our trip. 🙂