With more than 150 swathes of sand to its name, Fuerteventura is the beach capital of the Canary Islands. Its coast morphs from the empty sweeps at Cofete to the busy, bar-lined stretches in Jandia. Then there’s the Parque Natural de Corralejo to think about. Unravelling along the coast for 10 kilometres, this national park is a huge expanse of rolling sand dunes.
The big resorts
Corralejo, the most popular town on the island, balances old and new. You’ll find traditional tapas bars in the old town and karaoke bars in the resort centre. Further down the coast, Costa Caleta is a family favourite, with watersports and international restaurants easy to come by. The Jandia peninsula in the south, meanwhile, teams up national park-protected beaches with duty-free shopping complexes and a clutch of cocktail bars.
Fuerteventura’s coastline gives the green light to some of the best watersports in Europe. Kite surfing is big business here. And Playa de Sotavento, on the island’s south coast, has cornered the market for windsurfing. Head here in July and you’ll catch the World Championships.
Villages untouched by time
If you can drag yourself away from the shoreline, Fuerteventura’s interior is well worth exploring. Wind-whipped lava fields and valleys of euphorbia give way to centuries-old villages that have missed the march of mass tourism.
Things to See and Do in Fuerteventura
Beaches for life
Fuerteventura has more than 150 different beaches to shout about. The island’s stretches of sand range from deserted bays to well-equipped bases for families. Some of the island’s coves and bays are held in such high regard, they’ve been given natural park status.
The big beach
Parque Natural de las Dunas wins the title of Fuerteventura’s biggest beach by a country mile. It’s 10 kilometres long and protected as a natural park, so the sand is the way nature intended – as white and as soft as freshly-baked bread. You can hire sunloungers on certain parts of the beach and there are a couple of ice cream kiosks and restaurants near the main entrance.
The secret beach
Cofete Beach, near Jandia, has managed to stay under the tourism radar. If you’re here outside the peak summer months, you can have this secluded bay all to yourself. There’s a short walk down to the beach and no facilities at all, so you’ll get a real castaway feeling when you’re here.
Fuerteventura is a duty-free island, so it’s a great place to stock up on designer perfumes and watches. You’ll find the best buys at the 30,000-square-foot Las Rotondas shopping centre in Puerto del Rosario. Alternatively, head to the Comerial Atlantico in Costa Caleta.
Cottage industries are Fuerteventura’s lifeblood. Head to the old town in Corralejo to pick up home-made jewellery, art and natural beauty products, like aloe vera hand creams. The harbour area here is also a great place to buy photographs of the island, taken by local photographers.
Fine-tune your haggling skills at one of Fuerteventura’s many markets. Head to Corralejo on Mondays and Fridays for hand-made jewellery, Puerto del Rosario and Jandia on Thursdays for pottery and pashminas, and Costa Calma on a Sunday for crystal glass and silver.
Fuerteventura is less of a party animal than Tenerife and Lanzarote. Evenings out tend to revolve around cocktails and drawn-out dinners. Head to the pedestrianized area near the harbour in Corralejo and you can dine al fresco while acoustic musicians play in the main square. Alternatively, Jandia Harbour offers a great selection of restaurants, from steak houses to Canarian outfits. In Costa Caleta, you’ll find a good mic=x of bars and restaurants in the Happy Centre and the Castillo Centre.
The island’s liveliest nightspots are found in Puerto del Rosario’s town centre and the Centro Commercial Atlantico in Corralejo. Both these places have karaoke bars, Irish-style pubs and a few discos. In Jandia, the Centro Comercial de Jandia is the place to go for a night on the tiles.
It’s every man for himself when this cheese is on the tapas table. It’s made from the milk of Fuerteventura’s indigenous Majorera goat and it’s got a buttery texture and a nutty taste. For a real treat, order it with Parma ham, crusty bread and a bottle of oaky Rioja.
Ordering a glass of Rioja and a bowl of pejines in Fuerteventura is the equivalent of ordering a lager and a bag of pork scratchings in the UK. The tiny fish in this finger-food dish are dipped in brine, dried for three days, and then cooked in flaming alcohol.
Gofio amasado is a Canarian rite of passage. The recipe has been handed down through the generations for centuries. The main ingredient of the doughy dish is a grain-based flour called gofio, which is mixed with water, milk, potatoes and honey to form a pate-like product.
You can’t escape papas arrugadas in the Canary Islands. These miniature jacket potatoes have crunchy skins and hot fluffy centres. Traditionally, they are served as a tapas dish, drizzled in a terracotta-coloured spicy pepper sauce.
This one’s not for waist watchers. It’s a rich, gooey, cream dish that’s a bit like syllabub. It’s made from ground almonds, sugar syrup, cinnamon and eggs, and served after dinner with top button-popping consequences.
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On Fuerteventura’s north coast, Corralejo is a place that likes to keep you on your toes. It’s got some of the best surfing in Europe, an unmatched nightlife, and tonnes of shops and restaurants. Though if it’s down time you’re after, there are sweeping dunes as deserted as the surface of the moon.
On the southwest peninsula of Fuerteventura, Jandia is the place for the more demanding beach lover. It’s set on a never-ending expanse of white sand, at the foot of the Pico de la Zarza mountain range. Over the years, as it’s grown, the town has merged with neighbouring Morro Jable, where the harbour and quaint old town provide a counterpoint to Jandia’s modern hotels, restaurants and nightspots.
Costa Caleta – or Caleta de Fustes as the locals call it – sits on the east coast of Fuerteventura. It’s been purpose-built, so you won’t go wanting for shops, bars and restaurants, which are all to hand on the main street. And while the nights are just the right side of lively, days are all about lazing on the sheltered beach.