- Hit the beach
And not just any beach. Fuerteventura has some of Europe’s most impressive stretches of sand, with prime examples found just south of Corralejo, on the island’s north-eastern shores. The island is less than 100km off the coast of Africa, and the epic 11km-long white dunes of Parque Natural de Corralejo constantly shift shape as sand is blown in from the Sahara. Don’t be put off visiting if it’s windy – look out for the windbreak shelters the locals have built using the island’s volcanic stones.
- Relax in a resort
This is not your usual resort holiday in Spain. Fuerteventura holidays are all about laidback waterfront bars, local restaurants and old fishing villages like Morro Jable, with a deserted stretch of coastline never far away. Places like Corralejo are working Spanish towns as well as holiday spots, attracting a real mix of visitors. Caleta de Fuste in the south, with its slicker restaurants and fancier shops, appeals to a more well-heeled crowd, many arriving by their own yacht.
- Take in traditional living in Betancuria
A seductively slow pace of life awaits in Fuerteventura’s interior villages. Think bleached white, low rise stone houses with black volcanic stone trims and tiled roofs, neat pockets of palm trees and views of the mountains. If you only have time to visit one, make it pretty Betancuria; it’s set in its very own Parque Rural de Betancuria and was the island’s capital until 1834. You can learn more at the Artisans Museum and the Betancuria Archaeological Museum. Don’t miss the Baroque altar at the Iglesia de Santa Maria, a seventeenth century church that replaced an earlier incarnation savaged by pirates!
- Savour seafood in El Cotillo
Fuerteventura’s fishing fleet constantly serves up exotic delights from the sea, including meaty parrotfish and limpets (seasonal). Black limpets may not look as nice as the orange ones, but they arguably taste better. Corralejo boasts numerous seafront restaurants, but you will eat better in El Cotillo. French-owned La Vaca Azul brings a touch of Gallic élan to this unassuming fishing village. Trust their fish of the day recommendations; they serve up arguably the best grilled octopus in the Canaries, too.
Opening times: Daily, 12pm – 10pm.
Location: La Vaca Azul, C/ Requena, Muelle Viejo (old harbour), 9.
Price: Limpets €9; Grilled Octopus €9.50.
- Explore the volcanic landscape
The island – along with the rest of the Canaries – is basically one big volcano so one of the essential things to do in Fuerteventura is a hike through its natural marvels. Montana de Tindaya, to the North-East, is the oldest mountain in the Canary Islands and is sacred to the island’s indigenous Majorero people. These days you’re not allowed to climb up, although it’s an easy camera stop off en route to La Olivia village. Elsewhere, there is an otherworldly route that takes you through lava craters around Corralejo; the walk takes about four hours to Corralejo from Lajares (car park by the Camel Centre). There’s not much shade though, so don’t forget your hat!
- Visit The Colonel’s House
This imposing eighteenth century hacienda in La Olivia is, as the name suggests, a former home of the island’s military officials and features exhibits on Fuerteventura’s history and the powerful families who once lived here. Walkable from the village of La Olivia, it’s also worth peeking in at the nearby art gallery, Centro de Arte Canario, which features Canarian artists like Cesar Manrique, known for his lava art and architecture on neighbouring Lanzarote.
Opening times: Tues to Sat, 10am – 6pm.
Location: Calle los Coroneles, 28, 35640 La Oliva.
Price: Adults €3, Concessions €1.
- Catch a wave
Fuerteventura is legendary among surfers, windsurfers and kiteboarders. The Corralejo dunes are the most popular spot, but savvy surfers looking to get away from the crowds venture along the rough ‘North Track’ towards El Cotillo, where wild beaches await with consistently impressive breaks and winds. Get completely off the tourist track at quiet Playa de Esquinzo, six kilometres further down the west coast from Cotillo.
- Go for goat’s cheese
There really are more goats than people on Fuerteventura. Handily, they produce the extremely tasty Majorero cheese. It is highly praised by gastronomes and has been awarded its own protected status, so you know you are buying the real stuff. Outside the resorts, look out for little farmsteads selling their own Majorero. The village of Tindaya, to the north of the island, is where the locals head to stock up. Majorero is best enjoyed grilled, with a little Canarian palm honey.
- Get naked
Seriously! Fuerteventura is something of a naturist destination, so if you enjoy letting it all hang out you’ve come to the right place. Morro Jable, part of the southern Jandia resort, is the most nudist-friendly area, but even on Corralejo’s dunes there are sections where clothing is very much optional. Of course, it’s always wise to check first, before throwing your caution as well as your clothes to the wind!
- Cruise to Lobos Island
Forget simply taking a spin in a glass bottomed boat or posing on a yacht: go in search of treasures! Well ok, you may not find any buried chests of gold, but the little Isla de Lobos is an uninhabited charmer that lives up to the image of a perfect desert island. There’s rare birdlife to spot, you can walk around it in a few hours, there are beaches to die for and an old lighthouse to investigate, à la The Famous Five. The icing on the cake is the island’s very own volcano – and this one you can definitely climb. Enjoy a sweeping panorama all the way back to the main island and congratulate yourself on discovering Fuerteventura. Get to Lobos by boat from Corralejo – enquire at the Marina to find out times and prices.
- Ride rough over the Península de Jandía
The south-westerly tip of Fuerteventura is home to another protected park, featuring craggy cliffs and vast empty plains. A fun way to explore is by hiring a 4×4 but if you’re not sure of driving along hair-raising cliff roads yourself, hitch a ride on the 4WD bus to Cofete. You can catch the bus at Morro Jable and there is a discount card you can buy from the driver if you’re planning any more bus trips – check for updates to the timetable on the bus company’s website.
- Uncover history at Villa Winter
Built by a German engineer, Gustav Winter, this atmospheric building near Cofete is an intriguing historic site. Much of what is said about Villa Winter is speculation, but it was built by German prisoners of war from the Tefia concentration camp, and its network of cellars, caves and watchtower have suggested to some that it was of further importance during World War II. Whether or not you believe the stories about secret submarine bases and Nazi safe houses, its misty, abandoned aspect, flanked by barren mountains, certainly makes for some unusual holiday snaps.
Opening times: You can look around the house itself by contacting the present owner, Pedro Fumero.
Location: 35626, Las Palmas.
- Museum of Cheese Majorero
Not just for cheese-lovers, this good-value museum located in the heart of Fuerteventura is a hit with families, with its cute windmill, and interesting history of farming and rural life on the island. The exhibitions take visitors all the way back to pre-historic times, with archaeological finds from nearby caves, while the gift shop is worth a look for beautiful Canarian handicrafts to take home. There’s also a pretty garden, home to indigenous plants.
Opening times: Tues to Sat, 10am to 6pm.
Location: 35626, Las Palmas.
- Discover the coves of Ajuy
Ajuy is a romantic’s paradise of smuggler’s caves and scramble-happy rocks on the island’s west coast, and a great place for a brisk afternoon’s walk. Here, Fuerteventura’s geological formations are laid bare: the layers upon layers of solidified lava creating beautiful patterns to admire as you make your way (carefully!) down the cliff steps. A tower-like monument stands facing the crashing waves, right at the water’s edge.
- Party in Lanzarote
Had enough of all that unspoilt beauty and quiet island life? Head across the sea to Lanzarote, just 25 minutes by ferry from Corralejo to Playa Blanca, on Lanzarote’s southern coast. Blanca is the larger island’s second favourite resort and has a more sophisticated vibe than most, with more elegant bars and restaurants than latenight club venues. That said, the epi-centre of Lanzarote nightlife, Puerto del Carmen, is just half an hour up the road, so we’ll leave the rest up to you…
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