Looking for something a little different to do in Fuerteventura?
Below, globetrotter Gillian Thornton shares seven fantastic reasons for heading to the second largest of the Canary Islands.
Read on to find out what you can get up to on your next trip.
1. Be different
Despite being the oldest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura was a slow starter in the tourism game compared to its more developed neighbours, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote.
When I first visited more than 15 years ago, Fuerteventura’s low-key resorts were just getting into their stride. Today, the island is a popular choice for holidaymakers in search of a different Canary Island experience.
Fuerteventura’s dry interior doesn’t support much agriculture, so you won’t see much livestock apart from goats, sheep and camels. Nor will you find fruit plantations or lush vegetation. The island’s most important crop is aloe vera! But the whole island was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2009 for its unspoilt western coastline and rich fossil record.
The name Fuerteventura means ‘windy island’ and warm breezes provide ideal conditions for windsurfing and other water sports, especially off the Jandia peninsula in the south of the island.
Water sports a bit too energetic? Then just watch from the shore over a glass of something cold, but do remember to pack a jumper and your sunscreen – the breeze can be deceptive.
2. Embrace the beach
Unlike some of its more rugged neighbours, Fuerteventura’s low mountains can’t hold the moisture-laden clouds that blow in from the ocean. This means rain is scarce and the climate reliably dry and sunny most of the year. The island’s unique geology has also blessed Fuerteventura with the biggest and best beaches in the Canaries along its 210-mile coastline.
Most are composed of beautiful white sand, but you’ll also find black volcanic sand, which are more commonly found in Tenerife. Most holidaymakers head for the modern, whitewashed resorts on the east coast, sheltered from the strong winds and tides that buffet the rocky western shore. The coastal shelf here makes for shallow, clear waters of stunning turquoise, more reminiscent of the Caribbean than the Canaries.
In the north of the island, the historic fishing port of Corralejo is now a popular holiday centre, strategically sited on the edge of the Corralejo National Park, a 9km stretch of big beaches, small coves, and tall, endless sand dunes.
Heading south down the east coast, the popular resort of Caleta de Fuste is conveniently situated just a few miles from the airport at Puerto del Rosario. Further down the coast, Costa Calma and Morro Jable nestle on the sandy shore of the Jandia peninsula.
3. Love the landscape
Volcanic in origin, Fuerteventura measures 110km from north to south and 30km across at its widest point. After thousands of years of erosion, the island is flatter than its younger, loftier neighbours. But first-time visitors are often surprised at the huge variety of scenery from vast ‘desert-like’ plains to low mountains, rolling sand dunes to some of the longest, sandiest beaches in the Canaries.
The landscape of the interior is a mix of gentle mountains and flat plains. I love the palette of earthy shades that range from warm terracotta to vibrant orange, muted brown to near black. The colours change with the time of day and the pattern of passing clouds – a kaleidoscope of shapes and shades that rarely looks the same twice.
4. Hire a car and head west
Hire a car for the freedom of the island. Roads are well surfaced; just be careful about pulling off to admire the view as the camber can fall away steeply. Best to stick to designated stopping places. Then just wander at will.
I’ll never forget a simple meal of freshly caught fish at a restaurant table overlooking the rocky cove at Los Molinos, nor the power of Atlantic surf pounding the shoreline at El Cotillo.
If you like your beaches undeveloped and are up for an adventure, head to the remote beach of Cofete. This beach can be found on the western shore of the Jandia peninsula, featuring empty golden sands fringed by azure waters against a mountain backdrop.
5. Discover another culture
The main road running north to south down the interior passes through ancient villages that hint at a more traditional way of life. Small towns rise up out of the flat landscape with identical flat-roofed houses in whitewashed concrete. Look out for the Casa de los Coroneles – House of the Colonels – in La Oliva, historic residence of the governor of the island for centuries and now restored as a cultural centre and exhibition space.
Founded by the Normans in 1404, Betancuria in the centre of the island was once its capital, safe from coastal marauders and easy to defend. Today the narrow streets of the old town are lined with picturesque houses. Don’t miss the archaeological museum to find out how islanders lived in the centuries past, nor the panoramic view from the Morro Velosa viewpoint.
6. Shop for authentic crafts
If you’re after holiday souvenirs, head to the handicraft centre at Antigua Mill, a short drive from Betancuria. Here you can find authentic island crafts and relax in beautifully maintained gardens stocked with native plants that include cacti and palm trees.
An exhibition area provides a fascinating insight into traditional cheese making, as well as the native Majorera goat.
7. Discover marine and island life
Take a discovery boat to the Jandia Natural Park off the southern tip of the island to see different varieties of fish and turtles, dolphins and even whales.
At the opposite end of the island, boats leave from Corralejo for the tiny uninhabited island of Lobos, where you can chill out on the golden sands of La Concha beach, completely sheltered from the waves. Then relax at the island’s only restaurant over a plate of paella beside the small natural harbour of El Puertito de Lobos (advance booking is essential).
And if all this gives you a taste for visiting two islands in one day, take the 35 minute ferry trip from Corralejo to Playa Blanca on Lanzarote. Many tour operators offer excursions that include the moon-like volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park. But don’t be surprised to feel the charms of Fuerteventura pulling you back.
Further information from www.visitfuerteventura.es/en/
Before you go…
- Check the Foreign Office (FCDO) website for their latest travel advice and entry requirements
- Check you have a valid GHIC to access free or reduced-cost healthcare while abroad
- Check your passport has more than 6 months left for entry
- Check you have valid travel insurance for your trip and activities – the Canary Islands are seen as Spain for single trip travel insurance policies.