Moon Landing: A Visit to Casa Maccaroni Surf Lodge in the Canary Islands

Leah Dawson travels to a treeless desert like the moon that's also a magnet for creative surfers: Casa Maccaroni in Fuerteventura, the Canary Islands.

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Leah Dawson deep in the barrel in Fuerteventura. Photo by Enrico Gorrea.
By Leah Dawson

The Earth is made up of oceans and lands, islands and seas, mountains and rivers. Its variety is seemingly creative, with each coordinate lending a new reality. In Fuerteventura, reality is unlike anywhere I’ve been before.

It feels like the moon. From nearly every point on the island, a tree cannot be seen; they are few and far between. I was told there were once trees, long ago, but they were all cut down to build on the other Canary Islands. Now, volcanoes and their rocks spread the landscape, making it look more like the moon than the earth. In a similar awe-inspiring way of nature’s grand creation, the land too is alive with its unique energy.

In the heart of a tiny town towards the north end of the long skinny island of Fuerteventura, you can find Casa Maccaroni — a quaint, clean home stay where water people and tourists can rent a room or three with their family or friends, and feel like home.

Leah Dawson drives through the desert of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Photo by Mauro Ladu.
Skating on the open road in Fuerteventura.
Leah Dawson plays guitar at Casa Maccaroni in Fuerteventura. Photo by Mauro Ladu.

Hammocks for relaxing at Casa Maccaroni. 
I had an incredible stay at Casa Maccaroni in October this year. Immersed into the Spanish-Euro culture, I enjoyed big community meals with other travelers, a quiet, cool room, and the open space with multiple hammocks to enjoy the shaded outside. Fuerteventura is known for its windy ways, which keeps the climate a bit cooler from the desert heat it can receive, being just off the coast of Morocco.

Casa Maccaroni is a unique place in the world. Owned and operated by former Italian pro skater Enrico Gorrea, the home stay is infused with Italian design and espresso makers. The energy is light, and all visitors are made to feel extremely welcomed and appreciated. Many surfers from all over Europe have begun to discover the hidden gem of Casa Maccaroni. I imagine his international business will continue to grow as well. Fuerteventura is a surfer’s dreamland. It just requires having a bit of luck with winds :) but surfing always requires luck...

After an amazing stay, I caught up with Enrico to learn a bit more about his project.

Why Fuerteventura?

Fuerteventura came after I spent one season in Hossegor, working for a business called Water Surf Camp. They started getting me interested in the possibility to work with them during the cold winter season.

I used to come to Fuerteventura on vacation for the surf and because of some the friends living here like Julien of Joyas Surfboards that helped me a lot! I chose the island because the Canary Islands are close to Europe, easy to join with low-cost company, always warm and sunny and with consistent waves to surf! I had this dream to create something totally mine, a new project, as Casa Maccaroni. Here, there is still the chance to realize dreams as this.

Blue waters against the arid landscape of Fuerteventura.
Leah Dawson getting ready to paddle in.
What’s the biggest challenge living on Fuerteventura?

Sometimes living in a small island is hard in general, the feeling of running always on the same roads and the feeling of being stoked.

Sometimes I miss the idea of taking the car and just driving hours to go somewhere else. To go to a concert or an art exposition or something more “social,” something more connected with culture and inspirations from something different than the life on the island.

But, then the ocean gives me the best feelings to remind me of how lucky we are! Here in Fuerteventura, you have less things and an easier way of life. We work a lot but we save everyday some time for us, for surfing or enjoying the ocean. Here you feel you slow down a little and you can take care of your passions. You can focus more in your life and growing your projects.

Island life is special and though at the same time, we live surrounded by the ocean, we live depending by nature elements, and this the biggest gift from Fuerteventura.

Around the Casa Maccaroni Surf Lodge. 
Filming with Leah Dawson on the skate ramp at Casa Maccaroni Surf Lodge.
Artistic touches inside the rooms at Casa Maccaroni. 
Inside one of the rooms at Casa Maccaroni.

What kind of people are drawn to Casa Maccaroni?

The people coming to Casa Maccaroni are mostly those who love the surf lifestyle, living in contact with nature and simple life. People here love the idea of feeling like at home because it’s a real house, not an hotel! Everybody is in love with our crazy cats, with our famous BBQ around a wooden handmade table just by the DIY mini ramp.

Here the mood is familiar, cozy, informal. We created a kind of network of creative people like photographers, directors, painters coming for shoots or exposition or simply to find the right place to create in a good and inspiring atmosphere! What we love most of the people coming to Casa Macaroni is almost of them have the same good feeling here, and almost everybody come back after the first time. This is the biggest satisfaction.  

Describe the waves in Fuerteventura.

This is an island. We are lucky, because in probably 50 km of coastline we have lots of different waves, from mellow reforming waves to barreling slabs, beach breaks and points. But it is not a paradise, waves are crowded and often can be “strong windy” (like the name)... we surf most of the time a little choppy (or more than a little!!) conditions.  

When it’s glassy it’s a super gift from nature on in those days spots are always super crowded! There's always a kind of chop that makes the surf here a bit tricky.  But the conditions here are always consistent and we can surf basically everyday.

On the skate ramp in the backyard of Casa Maccaroni. 

What kind of emotional effects does living in this environment have on you and your lifestyle?

Life here is not that easy. The island and the weather are heavy and you can't escape the influence of the climate and the ocean.

But definitely the fact that here there are a lot of things missing open to more opportunity. Casa Maccaroni has become a way of learning and doing things I never imagine I am able to do. I started filming and editingas a way to promote my project and with the help of a lot of friends and the tips they gave me sometimes I’m starting to get some jobs from it. Or I’m working as a carpenter and basically all the furniture of CM are DIY produced by me. Depending on the days I change from being the perfect housewife to a web designer… or if the surf is good I forget about all and I enjoy the beach and the ocean.

Changing all the time is what I love much more than the everyday routine.

What’s the key to not getting a chocolate croissant every day at the corner bakery?

You can't escape from it!!! The only thing you can do is surf everyday to saves you from the guilt and forget about it. The daily routine is part of taking care of you, and you must enjoy the life. But sometimes a homemade breakfast on the terrace saves you from the “french croissants” addiction.


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