Fuerteventura I – Morro Jable, Jandía, and all the Animals Around

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Endless beaches, friendly squirrels and parrots galore, donkeys roaming free: a laid-back week in my kind of paradise.

The first time I set foot on a plane and in the sea, I was a mere three-year-old. My mum’s obsession with the beach and trying to escape the gloomy winter months had us travelling to the Canary Islands for three years in a row, trying a different island each year. By the time I was 6, I had checked Tenerife, Lanzarote, and Gran Canaria off my (then non-existent) bucket list. Our yearly travels briefly stopped when my parents divorced, but my mum was quick to throw in a girls’ vacay to Tenerife the year after, along with my best friend and her mum, and a second round on Gran Canaria with just the two of us when I was twelve. I recall the sun, sand, sea, and building a snowman in our bathing suits on the top of a mountain from our Canary trips. Oh, and that one time a burglar tried to climb into our room through the terrace, but my mum’s scream scared him away.

The island of Fuerteventura, however, didn’t enter my conscience until an actor guy I had started chatting to on OKCupid filmed a TV ad there, pushing me into a big green pool of jeaolousy in the midst of the grey, rainy, English November.

Recently, a budget airline started flights from Budapest to the island of the Strong Wind, and as my mum kept mentioning the name, almost as a joke, I found myself drooling over pictures of endless beaches of white sand and sea, that would most likely be described with the adjectives ‘crystal clear’ and ‘pristine’ in travel guides. ‘Let’s go,’ I said, when I had enough of the winter misery. After a brief research, we picked the town of Morro Jable, and we were not disappointed.


I now know that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the ocean

Morro Jable

Just over a hundred years old, the former fishing village of Morro Jable is situated on the Jandía peninsula in the south of Fuerteventura. It was made more tourist-friendly in the past two-three decades with proper roads and hotels. Yet, it is nowhere as busy as Corralejo, the most popular destination of the island, which is key when we’re looking to relax for a bit.

A small shopping centre and road stood between the coast and our hotel, but the views  and sunrises were still pretty damn beautiful.

The area consists of long stretches of beautiful beaches, which were practically empty, apart from the odd elderly nudist. Here and there, a bright yellow, Wes Anderson-esque lookout breaks the landscape, as well as tiny cafes and sunbeds every kilometre or so. You’ll also find large patches of wetland unique to this area. Because of these wetlands and a lone lighthouse towering over the coast, the beach looks more akin to those in Northern countries, rather than Spanish playas.

Walking along the beach (each section has a different name, but really, it’s all just one long beautiful coast) from Jandía towards the harbour, you’ll pass by boutiques, supermarkets, and the average souvenir shops, then eventually reach the little treasure chest of a town that is Morro Jable. A rather modern church perks out of the Mediterranean-resembling white houses.

Waikiki Bar became our go-to seaside bistro for sangría and afternoon snacks.

The town (and the whole island, for that matter) has extremely well developed infrastructure with fresh new roads, unusually large traffic signs, running tracks, outdoor gyms and doggie parks.

Adding to the modern look, intriguing, copper-based contemporary statues pepper the roads.

Four-legged Friends Galore

The wetlands along the coast are home to many species, including some extroverted squirrels. These very friendly critters, running up to me, quickly made me feel like a Disney princess (sans the talent for singing). They will introduce you to their buddies, the curious green parrots, and you’ll meet plenty of cats as well, looked after by locals. The most unusual, however, are the many fiercely independent donkeys hanging out on their own at night.


  

‘Psst! That other dude has had enough nuts already… Give them all to me!’

One evening, as I was walking back to our hotel, one of the contemporary sculptures seemed to move on the grassy bit enclosed by a roundabout. As I approached, I realised it was a donkey. I stood there for a few seconds, then crossed and approached it just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating from the one too many sangrías we had had that day (and that Mr. or Ms. Donkey was doing okay). Whether this was an eco way of landscaping or just an adventurous little donkey, I’ll never know.

There is an animal park, but I’d advise everyone to skip unnatural (often torturous) animal attractions such as dolphin shows or camel rides, and instead suggest taking a boat trip to see extraordinary ocean creatures in their natural habitat, or visiting the local Turtle Nursery for educational purposes (prepare with lots of tissues, though: many of them are injured and are being rehabilitated before being released into the wild).

Wholesome vandalism in the town

Jandía and Morro Jable were the perfect base for our road trip around the island and for the rest of the week to really relax. It was incredibly refreshing not having to think about more complex questions than which part of the beach to lay our towels on or when to have dinner – I can thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking to switch off.


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