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5 hot things to do on Fuerteventura

It's impossible to ignore the fact that Fuerteventura's greatest attraction is its beaches. The Canary Island boasts the sort of playas that automatically have the theme from Lawrence of Arabia going around your head... if you're old enough to remember it. Whilst it's impossible to ignore them, there are other qualities that give the second largest Canary Island a personality that sets it apart from the other islands.

Go forth, explore and notch up our 5 hot things to do on Fuerteventura.

Sunbathe au natural

I did say it was impossible to ignore the beaches. If you're going to go to Fuerteventura to perk up the tan, why not do it properly and not be left with a two-tone body for a change. If there's anywhere to strip off completely to soak up the sun, it's Fuerteventura.

The golden dunes around Corralejo and El Cotillo in the north and Jandia in the south are so expansive that even the most shy naturist should be able to find a discreet spot to expose all in complete privacy.

Plenty of sunseekers on these beaches aren't so coy. Try to take a photo of the gorgeous sands and you can be sure that somewhere in the frame there will be a man standing surveying the views, hands on hips, letting it all hang out.

You don't have to go all the way to enjoy Fuerteventura's gorgeous beaches. However, if others sunbathing naked is an issue, stick to the beaches closest to the resorts.

Eat cheese

With Fuerteventura's legendary weather and waves drawing surfers, windsurfers, kite-boarders and... err SUP-pers to the island, the obvious thing would be to suggest people take to the water. But jumping on a board is a niche activity that not everybody is either able, or particarly wants to do. We can all pop a chunk of cheese into our mouths though.

On Fuerteventura, goats rule. There are far more of them than human residents. The capital, Puerto del Rosario was once known as Puerto des Cabras – Port of the Goats. The cheese from Fuerteventura is famous across the Canary Islands for being a savoury sensation. In fact it's renowned internationally, winning prestigious awards every year.

Known as Majorero, after the breed of goats it's produced from, it is sold as fresco (or tierno), semi-curado and curado. Fresco would suit people who don't like their cheese to have much of a personality. Semi-curado is matured for between 20 and 60 days and packs a decent, tangy punch. Curado is the choice for cheese die hards. Matured for over 60 days, it strains at its packaging to unleash its assertive flavours in your mouth.

For the more adventurous who'd like the full Fuerteventura cheesy experience, there's also goat milk liqueur. It's not as bad as it sounds, trust me, but I won't be replacing my stock of red vino with it.

Visit a goat farm to chalk up the lot and photograph some cute kids into the bargain.

Aloe vera

The volcanic curves of Fuerteventura's landscape is lacking in plant life, which makes endless fields of spiky aloe vera all the more surreal and surprising when you stumble across them. Aloe vera is one of the world's wonder plants and has been for aeons. Alexander the Great used it to heal battle wounds and Cleopatra slapped it on to make her more beautiful.

You can wash your hair with it, use it as shower gel, keep your skin young, use it as sun protection, spray it on as perfume and even drink it. It's claimed that Fuerteventura's climate is responsible for making the aloe vera grown there the best in the world.

A trip to an Aloe Vera factory isn't only a fascinating eye opener, you might come away looking years younger.

Salt Museum

The Salt Museum and Salinas del Carmen, close to Caleta de Fuste, consist of a museum dedicated to the history of salt and rows of neat white beds, the salinas. The museum is interesting, and you can pick up bags of salt in the attached shop, but maybe not something that makes you think 'wow, I've got to go there'.The salinas beside the museum are the real attraction.

The people of Fuerteventura have been working these salt basins since the late 19th century and they're the only working salinas left on the island. Miniature snowy white mountains of salt sharply contrast against burnt orange earth and ebony volcanic rocks to create a scene that is almost zen-like in its tranquil beauty. It is strangely soothing to explore the paths that dissect the salinas and fascinating to watch the old men 'rake' the salt.

A skeleton sculpture of a large whale between the salinas and the sea is an added bonus.

Barbary squirrel watching

Anyone who knows the Canary Islands will know that even though they are near Africa, there's a dearth of wildlife. The Barbary squirrel might not exactly be in the 'big five' league but when there's a lack of other animals, spotting one can be something to get quite excited about. Fuerteventura has lots of them.

We can kid ourselves that we head to the Mirador Risco de las Peñas, near Betancuria, to be overwhelmed by Fuerteventura's vibrant orange, volcanic scenery. But when the ardillas (Barbary squirrels) start hopping from rock to rock and striking up poses they've nicked from a meerkat documentary, the vistas are forgotten about. Their antics also serve to distract visitors from the signs advising 'Feeding or giving water to the fauna alters the balance of the colonies. Please avoid doing this.'

They are possibly the cutest sight you'll see on any Canary Island.

With quaint and pretty historic towns, unusual museums set in caves, lighthouses and windmills and a capital city with an obsession for sculptures to discover as well, it's worth dusting of the sand every so often and taking time to find out what makes Fuerteventura a quite special place to visit.

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