SOTOVENTO, FUERTEVENTURA

Just under an hour south of the international airport in Fuerteventura lies Sotovento - some 16kms of suberb, white sandy beach stretching from Matas Blancas in the North East to Morro Jable in the south. Not more than 1km away from the Northern end and close to the now popular tourist destination of Costa Calma, you'll find the Melia Gorriones hotel and the Rene Egli Pro kitesurf and windsurf centre. Home to a PKRA stop each year, it is a world renowned kitesurfing location but the offshore winds and gusty conditions mean that this perhaps isn't the spot for everyone...

WHERE TO STAY

This is the easy part of the review - there is only one hotel at the spot and it is the best hotel in the area, the Melia Gorriones. A beautiful 5 star hotel, it is within spitting distance of the kite centre so you can check the conditions easily from your own balcony before walking down to the beach with your kit. There are great all inclusive deals available and whilst I'm not usually an all-inclusive kind of traveller, at this hotel it is really worth it. The buffet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are outstanding with fresh fish and meat cooked at your request. All drinks and cocktails are included. Most night the drinks display on our table featured a bottle of wine (the colour and region of your choice), large bottles of beer, soft drinks and the odd cocktail. The lobby cocktail bar and outdoor veranda serve drinks until midnight and it's easy to relax on the comfy lounge beds after a long day on the water. Various pool bars keep your thirst at bay during the day. If you really don't want to stay at the Gorriones or there isn't space, look to Costa Calma. UK tour operators are regulars in this growing town now and have a number of good choices. There is a bus that will take you to the kite centre each day or you can hire a car - approximately 20 euros a day.

KITESURFING

The Rene Egli pro kite centre has everything you need - lessons, kit hire, a cafe, a rescue service (well worth it - jet skis will come and pick you up if you are in trouble and in off-shore wind you'll find you come to rely on being able to catch a lift back to shore). Check their website before you plan your trip and make sure that the lagoon will be filled in during your stay as it almost doubles the amount of space you'll have to ride in. One word of advice - although the centre does offer lessons and courses to complete beginners, this isn't the greatest place to get comfortable with the sport. The wind funnels down through the mountains and across the land leaving incredibly gusty conditions, tricky for even the most advanced riders to deal with. The flat water is a fair compromise for those with the skills but for novices it's a nightmare. Fuerte is known as the windy island and has a few other kite spots worth mentioning: Corelejo on the northern tip has some stunning kite beaches and a bustling town and for the surfers out there, Cotillo is definitely worth the road trip.

EATING & DRINKING

If you're staying down in Sotavento, the hotels are really the only options for eating and drinking at night - which is nothing to grumble at. The Rene Egli pro kite centre also has a bar in the centre of Costa Calma which is probably packed with people during the PKRA, but was decidedly quiet while we were in the area (at the height of the windy season). If you want a proper night out on the town, Coralejo is the place. This is where most package holiday-makers head on the island and it is full of bars and restaurants to suit everyone's taste.

NO WIND?

No problem - Fuerteventura is a beautiful island with plenty to see and do. Hire a car and visit the whole island in a day following our tried and tested route: Costa Calma to Coralejo - no need to stop on this section - just follow the main road up the coast of the island (FV-1) and watch as the landscape changes around you. You'll feel like you're on mars one minute, surrounded by volcanic rock, and then be blown away on a sandune the next... Stop in Coralejo to walk the main street and check out a few of the surf shops Head South and across to the west from Coralego through Lejares. This sleepy town offers a couple of surf outlets tempting passers by off the empty roads. Follow the road all the way to the coast and have lunch in Cotillo. A beautiful port town you can head north into the tiny coves if you have the time and the appropriate vehicle. Make sure you've got your strength up for the next section because it is all up hill! All of a sudden you'll remember that this is a volcanic island, as you find yourself winding high up the winding roads to the top of one of them! The views from the top are not to be missed and well worth the nausea! Heading down again, try not to miss out the port of Pared - a cute little fishing village with a black sand beach and incredible caves. Time to head back to Sotavento for sunset. If you have another day, go south and visit the local town of Morro de Jable to really say that you've seen the whole island.

For more information on kitesurfing in the area get in touch with the school and kite centre - http://www.rene-egli.com/