When I first read up on Fuerteventura to prepare my one-week surf trip with Sophie, I read about how the North is dominated by British tourists, while the South is in German hands. While I was happy that we were heading north – so I didn’t have to hear my mother tongue while actually sunbathing on a Spanish island off the Moroccan coast – I was still skeptical as to whether I could enjoy a week on such a stereotypical holiday island.
Visiting off-season in April certainly helped though, as Corralejo, the city we stayed in, was not flooded by bus-loads of tourists as of yet, and the people we met were mainly surfer expats, digital nomads and aspiring yogis who just wanted to have a good time. Yes, there were signs of mass tourism and cultural footprints, but when you turn a blind eye on the Aberdeen Steak House right at the bottom of Corralejo’s main strip, you can find plenty of other places to go and things to do.
As the island is really quite small, I’d advise you to get a rental car for at least a day or two, and start exploring. Here are ten things to do in Fuerteventura.
1) Learn how to surf
Fuerteventura has a reputation of offering the best surf in Europe (although geographically it is Africa) and subsequently there are loads of surf schools and camps where sun-kissed surfer boys and girls (most often expats who came and stayed for the surf) teach you the ins and outs of popping up on a surf board and riding a wave. Or body-surf it, depends on you. Sophie and I have told you all about
2) Have tapas at Pincha Cabra
After not having seen each other for almost a year, Sophie and I spent our first evening in Corralejo finding a place to stuff our faces and exchange stories of the past months. We went no further than Pincha Cabra, which is a beautiful and traditional tapas bar, serving, well, tapas and other Spanish food. What a delight – we ordered so many things we could barely finish, and the wine was so cheap and sweet – the hours passed in no time. You can choose between sitting inside, or out back in the small courtyard, which we did. The waitress was happy to make suggestions as to how much to order and what the specialties were, but you can also just have a look at some of the food in the glass counter inside.
In a place as British-dominated as Corralejo, with billboards advertising Angus Beef Steak and Full English Breakfast, this little tapas bar is a hidden gem you simply have to visit!
3) Bar hopping in Corralejo
The good thing about visiting a holiday town like Corralejo is that there is never a shortage of bars. A night of bar hopping will take you all across town. My favourite pick was Agua Cocktails and its neighbours along Calle Maritima – sea view included in the service.
4) Get a tan in Cotillo (and eat local fish)
El Cotillo is a small coastal village in the north-west of Fuerteventura and the beaches south of it are very popular among surfers and kite-surfers. The beaches to the north are smaller and more sheltered, and therefore popular among the locals to spend the day. We didn’t see many tourists here, but that might be different in high season.
You basically need a rental car to get here, but once you’re parked at one of the sandy parking lots, it’s just a short stroll through the dunes to reach the rocky shores of the ocean. The rocks form little pools, so you are not completely at the waves’ mercy when you go into the water, but rather than an extensive swim, you’ll get to splash around like a child. You win some, you lose some.
On your way back stop for some of the most amazing seafood with a great view over the village’s bay at Restaurante la Vaca Azul. If you can, grab an outside table in the sun and order the catch of the day (one fish easily serves two people, by the way).
5) Shop for souvenirs at the weekend market in Lajares
Lajares is just a 20 minute drive from Corralejo and lies inland, nestled in between the volcanic mountains which give Fuerteventura its characteristic arid desert feeling. The village is the epicentre of Fuerteventura’s yoga movement – yoga and surfing go hand in hand in most places – with studios and retreats dotting the landscape. Because there are so many yogis around here, it is also known as a place for hippies, and many of Fuerteventura’s expats find themselves living here eventually. There isn’t much to see really, but surf school buses often stop at one of the small bakeries for a refreshment after surfing. There is also the island’s only second-hand shop, Dylan’s, and the weekend market, where local artists sell their crafts. It’s the perfect place to pick up hand-made souvenirs that are a little bit more special than the stuff you get in the seaside towns.
6) Hit the road through the volcanic inland
We came for the surf and the beaches, but a trip to Fuerteventura isn’t complete without a road trip. The island is small enough that you can easily drive all around it in one day. The island’s mountains were formed by volcanoes and are black and different shades of red. They look bizarre and surely make for great hikes in off-season when it’s cooler.
Driving around the inland of Fuerteventura, I felt that many people don’t bother to leave their beach town resorts – I think that would be a big mistake!
7) Visit the Punta Jandia light house
A trip to the Punta Jandia lighthouse is easier to organise if you stay in the south of the island, as from Corralejo we would have had to drive all the way to the southern end of the island road and then another 14km or so on a sandy road to the lighthouse. We simply didn’t have the time – but if you have a day or two to spare for this adventure, your efforts will be rewarded with a view like this.
8) Have lunch in Gran Tarajal
Gran Tarajal is a port town with ferries leaving for Gran Canaria and Tenerife on a regular basis. We chose to leave the main road for Gran Tarajal for our lunch break and found a plethora of little seaside restaurants near the quaint beach. The day’s ferry must have left already, as the town was very quiet and felt truly local.
9) Do a yoga retreat
Either high up in the mountains or down by the beach, Fuerteventura is full of yoga retreats. We joined a morning session by the beach of Corralejo with
After our yoga session we joined the retreat group for their community breakfast back at the yoga house – as if we needed another reason to plan a return trip.
10) Have a picnic in the sand dunes
The landscapes of Fuerteventura are incredibly diverse, and so we found ourselves surrounded by sand dunes a mere half an hour drive after passing by huge volcanic mountains. The dunes lie just south of Corralejo and provide the kind of breathtaking scenery you’d want for a romantic picnic or to watch moon rise in the distance.
I hadn’t expected much from Fuerteventura – I thought it was just another of these holiday islands taken over by the Brits and Germans each summer. But what we found on Fuerteventura was much more than that and I’m convinced that the island makes for a perfect springtime getaway if you long for sunny days!
All photos by Kathi Kamleitner & Sophie Saint.