At night in the tiny village of Morro Hable, the sound of African drumbeats reverberates off the concrete houses, as the local cultural group prepares for performance. But by day another rhythm, that of the ocean, is the overriding concern for the tribe of international surfers who gather at the seaside each morning.

While Europe is immersed in a winter funk, Fuerteventura, off the coast of Africa, glows at a positively healthy 25ºC with a water temperature of around 19ºC. It’s these conditions which draw surfers and learners from all around Europe. Many come to Otro Modo surf School.

It’s been years since I was on a surfboard but I’m back on my feet in no time, thanks to the advice of Otro Modo’s guide Rick.

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After a quick session on the beach to refresh my pop-up, and to teach the basics to the beginners, we hit the water. It’s warm enough to stay in all day.

Rick’s picked a spot with just the right amount of swell – not big enough to be intimidating and not too small to be frustrating. However, my freshly remembered skills aren’t enough for him and he beckons me to the shore.

Winter sun and perfect beaches in the Canary Islands

“Get up a bit earlier, and stay lower. Bend your legs far more. You’ll find your balance is better and you’ll be able to be more flexible with how you ride,” he advises.

It works, and my next wave is far better. I would never have realised this on my own. Later, Rick explains how waves are created on Fuerteventura – the various high- and low-pressure systems and how they work. He also goes into detail about the types of breaks – point, reef and beach – and the advantages and disadvantages of each, how to catch waves, wave etiquette and how best to get out the back.

The next day we gather in Otro Modo HQ to check out our performances from the day before.

Rick had his camcorder handy, giving another perspective to learning to surf as I can see what I look like from the beach. From each person’s mistakes (or successes) we can refine our techniques.

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Five minutes away, at Jandia beach, it’s cleaner and bigger than the day before, and Rick pushes me to get further out to try to catch the green waves.

Today, my fitness is the biggest issue. Being surf-fit is different from being land-fit and my arms begin to ache.

I take a set on the head but refuse to give up. It pays off. Soon after, I screech down the front of a wave, stay low and ride it all the way to the beach. Rick gives me the thumbs up.

“Now get back out there and catch another,” he says. But I’m already paddling – my arms don’t seem to hurt as much any more.

Guide to Morro Hable

Sleep: Stay at the Casa Alberto. Cosy doubles with ensuites and cooking facilities.
Eat: Cafe Arena: Healthy food after a long day surfing. Leo’s: Top fish and tapas on the beach. Los Italiano’s: Great value, tasty wood-fired pizzas.
Drink: Mafasca plays disco music. Tortuga is an Italian bar with live music every Friday. Santa Maria bar looks like
a ship and plays salsa music at night.
Elsewhere: Head to the north of the island to Flag beach, which is the main kitesurfing beach on Fuerteventura.
Call into the Flag Beach Kitesurf & Windsurf which was the first centre to open in Corralejo. They also run the only surf hostel in town with rooms starting from €15 (£13) a night for B&B.
One of the many surf schools opertating in Corralejo
is Island Boards (900 80 10 12). Staff are all lifeguards.

Essential information

When to go: Anytime. It’s warm all year round. Winter is the best time to surf as that’s when the swells reach the island.
Getting there: EasyJet offers flights from London from as little as £18.99. Ryanair from about £60.
Getting around: Hire a bike, scooter, motorbike or car. Otro Modo Surf School will deliver you the beach each day as part of its service.
Currency: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.15 EUR.LANGUAGE Spanish, English, German.
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» Jahn Vannisselroy was hosted by Otro Modo Surf School ( who provides tailor-made surf packages including lessons, wetsuit, board hire, starting at €38 (£33) per day and stayed at Casa Alberto, from €22 (£19) a night.