(Editor’s note: I don’t think I’m going to make it there in my 40s – my 49th birthday is coming soon – but maybe in my 50s)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no surf honcho, but it used to be that one of my birthday traditions was to go surfing. This year, landlocked in the interior of Morocco, I’m looking back nostalgically on those days as my 40th birthday comes up. With the baby and family obligations, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get away, but I’m doing a little bit of online dreaming about paddling out and one of the closest places to do that is in the Canary Islands.
Flights to Fuenteventura are just a matter of getting to Spain, although you would think there would be flights from Morocco as well, but the cost is such that it makes much more sense to just go to Spain.
Now, the places I used to go surf on my birthday were either Cockroach Bay on Oahu’s windward side which always offers the kind of long gentle rides I prefer or if the conditions were right, up to Punalu’u where often I was the only one in the water. In terms of Fuerteventura, I have to wonder if there are huge crowds in the line-up, currents, tides, waves closing out, scary reefs, sea urchins and then there are things like the water temperature, board rental, wetsuits, and more. Yeah, I’m a bit spoiled – that’s what happens when you learn to surf in Hawaii, but sometimes, those things kind of make the whole experience even more appealing – or maybe not.
From what I read, Fuerteventura is a good place to surf if you know what you are doing – which is probably an overstatement where I’m concerned. The Canary Islands in general have the reputation of being the “Hawaii of the Atlantic”, but I’ve been to enough “Hawaii’s of…” that I know there can only be one. But, apparently, in Fuerteventura there is a powerful winter swell that breaks into shallow reefs near to the shore, often in beautiful crystal clear waters. So, it could be that I could re-establish my surf-warrior persona by coming out of water with some bloody surf rash- if I manage to get there.
It sounds as if the east coast at Los Hoteles around the village of Corralejo offers mellower but less regular waves with a northwest swell. Kind of like Punalu’u actually. And, I’m going to be honest here, while I love the thrill of catching a great ride, more than half of the reason I surf at all is for the chance to paddle out beyond the lineup and just contemplate the sea and sky from board top. No phones, no radio’s, and no people bothering you for a smoke or some spare change. Heaven is being adrift on a flat sea – with land in sight of course.
El Cortillo on the west side has a reputation as being a fast, dangerous break. Probably beyond my meager abilities, but worth considering if the conditions are right. A couple of video’s I watched though make it look like Sandys on Oahu though with a closeout shorebreak, so the chances of a broken neck seem fairly high.
I’m also curious about the locals attitude. Spain has such a macho kumacho thing that I can only imagine when you combine that with surf culture, the localism goes rampant.
Having gone to “North Shore” Elementary and spent some time playing around on Oahu’s North Shore, I’ve got to wonder too about the North Shore of Fuenteventura….sounds like it’s pretty rocky and filled with dangerous rips and undertows, but one has to wonder. Is the perfect, uncrowded ride waiting there? Hierro and Rocky Point – both have the reputations for the locals being serious dicks…so, probably not for me.
Now, the big question is can I get this trip set up and actually go?