Fuerteventura is the second-largest and perhaps oldest of the Canary Islands, an archipelago roughly 100 kilometers off the west coast of Africa but belonging to Spain since the early 1400s.
The origin of the name Fuerteventura remains contested, with some sources suggesting it is a reference to the island’s strong winds, even though the literal translation from Spanish is “strong fortune.” Others purport that it arose from the garbling of the French explorer Jean de Béthancourt’s exclamation, “Que forte aventure!” meaning “What a grand adventure!”
There’s no contesting those strong winds, however; the island really did blow me away both figuratively AND literally. Situated at approximately the same latitude as Mexico, Fuerteventura enjoys a lovely climate year-round and boasts a landscape quite unlike anything I’ve ever laid eyes on before.
I was first drawn to Fuerteventura by the possibility of co-living and co-working with a space called Hub Fuerteventura which caters to digital nomad types like myself, but during my monthlong stay in the northernmost town of Corralejo, I discovered a wide range of great things to do should you be in search of a sunny European holiday that won’t break the bank.
Related post: 10 Surprisingly Affordable European Travel Destinations
In no particular order, here are some of the absolute best things to do on the island of Fuerteventura.
Top Things to Do in Fuerteventura, Spain
Visit the dunes
Las Dunas de Corralejo are one of the island’s main attractions and a popular place for careless tourists to get their rental cars stuck in the sand. But if you can avoid being one of those people, these stunning dunes are well worth the trip. Many choose to arrive by taxi from Corralejo (a roughly €10 trip each way), local bus (not more than a few euros), or for the seriously adventurous, they are also accessible by bicycle.
No matter how you get there, the dunes are bound to impress you. We chose to go in the late afternoon as part of a daylong road trip; this kept us from burning our feet on the sand as we likely would have if we’d arrived when the sun was high. The dunes reside in Corralejo National Park and are a protected zone for several rare bird species.
Try your hand at a new adventure sport
Fuerteventura attracts all kinds of adventure lovers looking to take on the world-class surfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving and more. For the slightly less adventurous, there are a wide variety of water sports to enjoy like snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, jet skiing, and flyboarding. Landlubbers can get their kicks by hiking to the top of a volcano for amazing crater views!
Visit Isla de Lobos
Isla de Lobos–which takes its name from the now-extinct sea lion colonies that once called it home–is a small island off the northeastern coast of Fuerteventura which can be seen well from the town of Corralejo. There are a few small communities on this barren volcanic rock, but the island is considered a “natural park” and welcomes visitors by ferry every day.
The ride only takes about 15 minutes, but you’ll need a few hours to see the whole of Isla de Lobos by foot. Well-marked walking paths will lead you on an excursion across the island’s alien landscape, but be warned: there is next to no shade on Isla de Lobos, so bring a hat, something to cover your shoulders (I used my favorite travel towel), plenty of water, and a whole lot of sunscreen.
Furthermore, there is only one restaurant on the island, and it serves only two dishes, so if you don’t like fish or paella, bring snacks! Luckily, they also serve beer, wine, and a few desserts, and if there’s no table available, they’ll gladly do takeaway.
If you make it all the way to the lookout point on the island’s eastern shore, you’ll be treated to a fantastic view of Lanzarote, the easternmost island of the Canaries.
Kick back on the pristine beaches
There are many beaches to choose from on Fuerteventura. Not far from Corralejo, you’ll find a series of beautiful golden beaches known as Grandes Playas de Corralejo. They are considered some of the best on the island–the turquoise waters alone will have you swooning! Of course, with over 125 miles of beaches, there are plenty more where those came from on Fuerteventura. Relax with a cold drink in hand, grab a snorkel and go for a swim, or have a go at stand up paddleboarding!
There are a handful of smaller beaches located within the town of Corralejo itself, too (like the one pictured above), so if you don’t want to venture too far from the nearest wine bar, you’ll find a great place to plant your bum within walking distance.
Devour traditional Spanish tapas
Oh, Spanish tapas…those little plates of perfection, made specifically for sharing while enjoying a chilled glass of vermouth (or wine if you prefer, but if you’re in Spain you must also try vermouth!).
Tapas bars abound in Corralejo, so you can choose based on your own preferences for price, location, or reputation. The most famous? Tapas Oscar. The best place to sample your first vermouth? Pincha Cabra.
Rent a car and take an island road trip
Getting your own set of wheels is probably the best way to take in the whole island of Fuerteventura, which can be circumnavigated in just one day. Stop off in the charming small settlements dotted around the island, marvel at the grandeur of the island’s volcanoes, and chat with friendly locals and expats in the pop-up markets.
Renting a car can be tricky for certain nationalities, as most rental agencies require a driver’s license that shows an issue date, which US and Australian licenses do not. I suggest grabbing a European friend to do the renting for you and off you go! Here’s a short video I put together the day we explored some of the island by car. We visited the town of Cotillo on the western shore and finished with dinner at La Vaca Azul (a great place to watch the sunset) on a local’s recommendation!
Enjoy the chilled-out Corralejo nightlife
You won’t encounter many pulsing late-night clubs in little Corralejo, but you WILL find a smattering of bars perfect for enjoying some local wine or a few low-key cocktails.
Some of these are located in the labyrinth of pedestrian walking streets, and others are perched on the oceanfront boardwalk. Both options are energetic and lively without being over the top, and will most likely provide some live music to enjoy as you chat with friends. For a chance to dance, head to Banana Bar’s rooftop lounge around midnight.
What are your top things to do in Fuerteventura, Spain?
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