Landscape Photography on the Jandia Peninsula, Fuerteventura
The archipelago of the Canary Islands is generally perceived as a sun holiday destination – a winter retreat from colder climes where beaches, bars and restaurants refresh and restore. Receiving 13 million visitors each year – the Canaries are more popular than Hawaii as a tourist destination. The islands are volcanic and offer some variation in climate and flora from one island to another. We chose to visit Fuerteventura as we had spent Christmas here many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it’s pristine beaches and dry, moonlike landscape of extinct volcanoes and extensive dune systems.
A quick search prior to our trip in December 2021 for landscape photography images on the net retrieved many landscape snapshots – the potential was evident. With a few more hours on Google Earth I virtually scouted a number of locations in the south of the island where we had planned to visit.
We stayed in the relaxed, old town of Morro Jable so as to explore the Jandia peninsula. The road network south from Morro Jable comprises of a very rough gravel track that divides after a couple of miles with one “road” leading to the spectacular coastline of the south western tip and the other over the pass to Cofete beach. The only other road is across the island to the western shore to La Pared.
On most days, there was a good mix of cloud at sunrise and sunset – with a few days of blue skies and occasional cumulus clouds – a perfect recipe for mixing a beach holiday with landscape photography.
The following is a guide and review of the locations we travelled to. The subsequent section are locations scouted on Google Earth that we did not have time to visit on this trip. We were so impressed with the island that we have already booked a return in 2022 so this list is as much for me as it is for you, if you’re planning a trip there.
The most south western tip of the island is remote. The drive out is along a dusty gravel track. It’s a 50 minute drive on Google maps but allow 90 minutes given the bad state of the road. Drone images looking back on the headland are well worth going for but fly the drone a good distance beyond the wild surf so that any images taken have a foreground of deep blue sea – the surf creates a layer of interest if separated. The image opposite could be much improved if I had flown the drone further out to catch the full semi circle of the surf. Note that the view from the parking area looking north has too much contrast between the wild surf and the volcanic rock. Give yourself enough time here – we had a puncture before sunset and decided to leave immediately to drive slowly back on an inflated tyre. I’d recommend spending the entire afternoon in this locality – it is very special indeed. Rabo de Raton – a short walk from the parking area looks like the best location looking north and late afternoon provides good light on the mountains above Cofete beach in the distance.
A civilised drive (on a tarmacadam road) to the west coast (30 mins from Morro Jable) presents a location that has oodles of potential. You can walk south along the cliff to wonderful coves and cliffs. The path will eventually bring you to Cofete beach (c.10km track). To the north is a nice cove with scattered housing. In December the sun set beautifully over the distant mountains to the south. A sizeable crowd gathered here for sunset – I found it unusual that the cars arrived half an hour before sunset and departed once that golden disk disappeared. The image shown opposite is the afterburn taken after most people had left!
I visited Sotavento at dawn – to avoid people as it is a popular beach but does requires a car to access it so it’s not difficult to find space. The morning was overcast and the tide almost half out. The shallow lagoons that form at high tide are ideal for drone photography. Fly high over the lagoons and direct the camera down to look for wonderful patterns. Alternatively take a wide angled lens to shoot reflections by walking out into the lagoons and looking back towards the north of the island. A very tranquil location reminding me of Sandymount strand in Dublin (minus the city!). As Joyce asked in Ulysses: Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand?. Well you can do that on Sotavento without getting the skin whipped off your back from the cold!
North of La Pared is the awe inspiring Sicasumbre, a renowned dark sky viewpoint. The folding hills to the north provide unusual and abstract compositions – a mid range telephoto c.135mm is ideal here – I’d recommend excluding the sky to add a hit of mystery – see image opposite. To the south, I took a 9 image pano at c.80mm as the best of the day’s light (it whimpered out after this) – see main image above.
The lighthouse in Morro Jable is not inviting as a photographic subject – it is set back from the sea. For sunrise of sunset the rocks at the back of the church are easily accessible and provide a little foreground to the lighthouse in the distance – image displayed opposite. The old town provides more interest with architecture – I really enjoyed playing around with infrared on a sunny morning before taking to the beach for the day. I found the buildings in the the area around the church held the most potential for minimalist shots – see image opposite.
We visited Ajuy on our last day but in the midday sun and enjoyed the undeveloped atmosphere of the location with lt’s wild beach – it had a distinct hippy vibe going on. The old, square block buildings with small windows and the boats on the beach were perfect black and white subjects via infrared. There are caves a short walk to the north but I failed to see any landscape photography potential there.
The following locations appear to have so much potential but will have to wait for our next trip;
The Corralejo National Park provides superb potential for abstract dune images. I have not yet figured out the best place to park and explore but looking at Google Earth a short hike inland from Playa Del Rosadero appears to hold potential for the higher dunes.
This was top of my list. But a puncture at another location put us off taking the road here. There is a bus that travels twice a day – the bus was left behind by the film crew for the 2014 epic bible story Exodus: Gods and Kings which features Cofete in the Red Sea parting scene. Late afternoon sun may be the best light here for illuminating the mountains above the beach – a truly epic location.
I found an image featuring golden sand and cliffs on the web located at the other end of Cofete beach. This would require a c.4 km hike across the sands. But I think it would be well worth it for late afternoon returning straight after sunset. Close to top of my list for the next trip!
Arch in Barranco de las Peñitas
I have seen a few images of this arch – it may have potential – some minor scrambling on the way up. But it comes in a distant 4th to the three locations above.