The unsung island
Fuerteventura is one of the more organic Canary Islands. It’s a no-added-sugar sort of place, where the buildings are low-rise and the landscape has been built up by biology rather than bulldozers. But that’s not to say nothing goes on here. In fact, as most of the Canaries creak to life around mid-morning, Fuerteventura has been up for hours catering for the people who want to fit it all in.
Surf spots and sand dunes
The island’s enormous beaches attract surfers from sunrise. And at places like Dunas de Corralejo National Park, in the northern resort of Corralejo, sunbathers follow hot on their heels. Once you see the desert-like landscape here you won’t want to stay in bed, either. It’s a sea of wind-rippled white sand, with miles of footprint-free dunes.
That said, holidays to Fuerteventura aren’t just for morning people. In resorts like Costa Caleta on the east coast, and Jandia, in the south, afternoons are filled with watersports, mini-golf and trampolining for the kids. Fast-forward a few hours, and the smell of fresh fish cooking on hot coals fills the island’s harboursides, giving the chequered flag to dinner time.
Things to See and Do in Fuerteventura
White sand and watersports
When it comes to beaches, Fuerteventura doesn’t do things by halves – it’s got 150-odd to its name. They don’t scrimp on quality either. From the white sand dunes at Corralejo to Costa Caleta’s quiet cove, beaches here are all first-class. And, if you’re the sporty type, they rank pretty highly when it comes to wind and kite-surfing, too.
The big beach
Top billing here goes to Grandes Playas, a 7-kilometre stretch of white sand just south of Corralejo. It’s part of the Dunas de Corralejo National Park, and is backed by Sahara-style dunes. As it’s a protected area, no building work is allowed – although 2 large hotels sprung up before the restrictions were put in place. The busiest stretch is between the 2 properties – if you want a bit more space, just edge a bit further out.
The secret beach
Right down on the southern tip of the island is Cofete Beach. This rugged, 5-kilometre stretch is pretty difficult to get to – you’ll most likely need a 4x4 to navigate the tracks down here – but it’s worth it if you’re after a patch of sand away from the masses. The remote location and choppy surf keep the crowds away, so you’re guaranteed to find a secluded spot. It’s a top pick with those who like an all-over tan, too, so if you fancy getting rid of those pesky tan lines, this is the place.
Fuerteventura is a duty-free island, so you can pick up designer perfumes for knockdown prices. Some of the best places to shop are Las Rotondas shopping centre in the capital – Puerto del Rosario – the Atlantico in Costa Caleta and El Campanario shopping centre in Corralejo. Name-wise, you’re looking at brands like Estée Lauder and Clinique.
The cobbled lanes of Corralejo’s old town are bursting with tiny artisan shops selling home-made arts and crafts. You’ll find loads of aloe vera products for sale, too – the plants grow everywhere here. The creams and lotions are a lifesaver if you’ve had a bit too much sun. You can also pick up lovely gifts like painted vases and plates in the independent shops in Morro Jable, AKA Jandia’s old town.
There are plenty of bargain buys to be had in Fuerteventura. For handmade gifts, head to the artisan market at Corralejo’s El Campanario shopping centre between 10am and 2pm on Sundays. There’s also a market in Costa Caleta on Saturday mornings, and one in Jandia on Thursdays, where you can pick up leather belts and bags, jewellery and imitation designer gear.
For a quiet evening, head to the north end of Corralejo’s main drag, Avenida del General Franco. Up by the harbour, you’ll find loads of al fresco restaurants where you can tuck in to fresh seafood and listen to live music. Down by the seafront, there are loads of bars with views across to Los Lobos and Lanzarote. Costa Caleta also has some first-rate fish restaurants – just head straight for the waterfront.
Corralejo is your best bet for nightlife. The main strip is lined with bars, pubs and live music venues, and in the Centro Comercial Atlantico you’ll find clubs open ‘til the wee hours. There’s also a handful of clubs and discos along the main strip in Costa Caleta and in Jandia’s Centro Comercial. You can bank on drinks deals and free shots at both.
This hearty, pâté-like dish has been around for donkey’s years. It’s made with potatoes, wine and honey, and mixed with a doughy mixture called gofio. The finished product is traditionally served up in a ‘zurron’ – a bag made out of leather or fabric.
These crunchy, shrivelled-looking potatoes are a popular side dish and make an appearance on practically every menu in Fuerteventura. The potatoes are steamed with loads of salt until the skins get all wrinkly, then dished up with a spicy mojo dip.
Got a sweet tooth? Order bienmesabe. It’s a rich, syrupy pudding made from almonds, honey, cinnamon, and egg yolks that was brought over to the Canaries by the Moors centuries ago. With a name that translates to ‘tastes good to me’, it’s a no-brainer.
If you’re after a traditional tipple, plump for the local firewater, Ron Miel. It’s an ultra-sweet liqueur made from dark rum and honey. You can drink it as an apéritif or digestif – or both, if you dare.
Milk from the local Majorera goats is the main ingredient in this, one of the best cheeses in Spain. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s been awarded a fancy ‘Denominacion de Origin’ certification. It’s pretty similar to Manchego and has a nutty tang to it. For an added kick, you can get it coated in pimento or paprika.