Gran Tarajal is Fuerteventura’s second biggest town (after the capital, Puerto del Rosario) and is located some 45km south of the airport. Its dark sand beach, laid back vibe and authentic Canarian flavour give it a very different feel to the tourist resorts elsewhere in Fuerteventura.
The town grew because of its port, which at one stage shipped nearly all of the agricultural produce from the island. Although it’s hard to imagine when looking at Fuerteventura’s present-day desert landscape, the island was once known as the bread basket of the Canaries, as it supplied much of the cereal needs of the Canary Archipelago. Today, most importing and exporting of goods is conducted through Puerto del Rosario.
Running almost the entire length of the town is a coastal promenade linking the open-air theatre (which for several years hosted the WOMAD Festival) in the east, to the harbour in the west, along an 800m-long beach. The central section of the promenade has a good selection of cafes and restaurants on both the seafront and around the pedestrian square. The large dark-sand beach is often frequented by locals but by few foreign tourists, who prefer the light sand further south at Costa Calma, Butihondo and Jandia.
Gran Tarajal is sheltered by mountains and therefore offers some respite from the trade winds that blow across the Canary Islands. Its sheltered location makes it a great place to swim, although you can also surf and body board if the swell is right. There are plenty of activities along the beach including a volleyball court, football pitch and children’s play area – this is a great family beach. More sports facilities and a golf course are available at the nearby sports resort of Las Playitas, located some 6km away.
The harbour is located in the south west of the town and has around 250 moorings split between fishing boats and leisure craft. Although there used to be a ferry connecting Gran Tarajal and Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, this is no longer running and there are no ferries using the port at present. The port does, however, receive the occasional cruise ship.
As you might expect from somewhere with Gran Tarajal’s sea-faring tradition, fishing is a source of local pride and many local restaurants offer fresh locally-caught fish, just follow the locals and you are sure to get a great meal. Gran Tarajal also plays host to an annual deep sea fishing contest, held every September, which is the largest of its kind in the Canary Islands. Shortly after this contest is the locally celebrated re-enactment of the Battle of Tamasite, where the poorly armed locals fought and won against British Invaders during two attacks in 1740.
Right in the centre of town, set amongst a green oasis of Canary Palms is a beautiful fountain featuring water flowing from the mouths of 6 seahorses. Overlooking the fountain is the Church of Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candeleria, which was built in 1900 by a returning emigrant from Cuba (who also invested significantly in the port area).
Whilst wandering around the town, look out for the plethora of beautifully-painted murals scattered around town. Some depict traditions such as drying fish, or commemorating the battle of Tamasite, some of animals, whilst others are a little more whimsical. Local views of the murals is divided, however I think they brighten up shabby areas and showcase artistic talent.