Wild, windswept, and fringed with shimmering beaches, Fuerteventura is the second largest among Spain’s famous Canary Islands. Famed for its Mars-like backcountry, it's a land where cinnamon-tinged miradors keep watch over roaring waves. In among them are cute hamlets and Spanish resort towns, so you still get those fish-grilling tavernas and bumping bars.

    A whopping 300 days of sunshine each year make Fuerteventura a humdinger for winter warmth and beachfront chilling. You can kick it by the poolside in resorts like Caleta de Fuste and Morro Jable, where vibrant promenades give way to powdery beaches. To inject a little adrenaline, grab a surfboard in Corralejo, plot a course to the hiking trails of craggy El Cardon, or strap on scuba tanks and search for turtles in the Atlantic Ocean.

    What are the best things to do in Fuerteventura?


    Morro Jable

    Start the day watching waves roll into black-rock headlands

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    The vibrant resort town of Morro Jable sits at the extreme south of Fuerteventura. The lively promenade that runs from the marina to the long, glowing sands of Playa Matorral is the place to be in the morning. It threads its way past luxury villas and swaying palm trees, eventually merging with the town centre.

    You’ll find all sorts of spots to enjoy in Morro Jable – you've got Irish pubs serving up hearty full English breakfasts and burger joints offering artisan patties in a bun. Head for the European cafés on the promenade – they're excellent for watching passersby and waves lapping against the volcanic outcrops and the beach.

    Location: Morro Jable, Spain


    photo by Dirk Vorderstraße (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Oasis Park Fuerteventura

    Bug-eyed lemurs and pre-historic reptiles await at this family-fun attraction

    • Families
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    Encounters with multi-coloured parrots, slithering snakes, and formidable birds of prey are all part of a day out in Oasis Park Fuerteventura. Easily reached on the main highway just outside of La Lajita, the centre has a range of experiences suited to the whole family. At the lemur enclosure, you'll come face to face with curious ring-tailed Madagascan beasts. Or, would you prefer a safari expedition by camelback? Rides on the desert dwellers are a unique way to take in Fuerteventura's dramatic landscapes.

    Next door to Oasis Park is the Jardin Botanico, where fauna makes way for flora. You can supplement snakes and sealions with spiny cacti and aloe blooms, all while learning about the Fuerteventura’s unique ecosystems. 

    Location: Carretera General Jandia, 35627 Las Palmas, Spain

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +34 928 16 11 02


    photo by Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Sotavento Beach

    Turquoise lagoons and jaw-dropping vistas on the island's most famous stretch of sand

    • Families
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    • Adventure

    Sotavento Beach (Playa de Sotavento de Jandía) strings along the east coast of Fuerteventura with its crystal-clear lagoons and pink-tinged sand. This is one of the most photographed stretches of coast in the Canaries. It's also a favourite with sunbathers and swimmers.  

    You'll be greeted by dashes of gleaming white powder, transparent shore waters, and a backdrop of rugged volcanic mountains. In all, Sotavento runs for 4 km, going past tidal pools and shallow swimming spots. The area around Costa Calma is popular with kitesurfers. Further south, the bikinis and swimming trunks drop off in favour of bathing au naturel.

    Location: Playa de Sotavento de Jandía, Spain



    Delve into centuries of Fuerteventuran history

    • History
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    It's hard to believe, but little Betancuria was founded by the swashbuckling Norman explorer Jean de Bethencourt way back in 1404. That makes it the oldest settlement on all of Fuerteventura. The past is palpable as you wander the cobbled lanes and see the whitewashed bell tower of the handsome Santa Maria church. There's also a ruined convent from the 13th century, along with an archaeological museum that reveals the pre-colonial past of the island.

    The countryside around Betancuria will have you snapping the camera at every bend in the road. High lookouts soar more than 600 metres up at Mirador Morro Velosa, offering views of the west coast, rugged volcanic plugs, and dramatic mountain ranges. 

    Location: Betancuria, 35637, Las Palmas, Spain


    photo by Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified



    Scramble to the summit of El Cardon for sweeping views of the island

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    A huge slab of volcanic rock rising high above the valleys of south-central Fuerteventura, Cardón is more Colorado than the Canaries. It looks like something plucked from the set of a Clint Eastwood film. But there are no gun-slinging cowboys in these parts, don't worry. Instead, there are hiking paths that'll take you over scree fields and steep slopes to the summit, leaving you breathless as much from the views as the challenging climb. Of course, the views from the top are spectacular, encompassing the wild Jandia region and the untrodden west coast.

    A road leading out of the little village of El Cardon itself is the way to the trailhead. Look for the signs pointing the way to the pilgrimage site at the Chapel of Tanquito.

    Location: Cardón, 35628, Las Palmas, Spain


    photo by H. Zell (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    El Cotillo

    Wax down the board – this is Fuerte's surfing hub

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    Once a hidden fishing village, El Cotillo is now bursting with board rentals, surf schools, and surf camps. Located on the north-western coast of Fuerteventura, the beach breaks that sit just to the south are great for beginners. You can find some pretty hardcore waves for intermediates and experts just a little further along the coast.

    When you're not riding the Atlantic, La Concha beckons closer to the centre of town. This beach is famous for its sparkling lagoons and white sands. It's an excellent place to chill and unwind after a tiring surf session, with a couple of beach bars and Canarian cafés thrown in for good measure.

    Location: El Cotillo, 35650, Las Palmas, Spain


    photo by Thomas Tolkien (CC BY 2.0) modified


    La Oliva food and craft market

    Shop for traditional Canarian foods and crafts in charming La Oliva.

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    A rustic agricultural village that sits under the gaze of ancient cinder cones, La Oliva offers a glimpse into the Fuerteventura of old. Just 10 miles south of buzzing Corralejo, it's a far cry from the larger town’s karaoke bars and cocktail joints. The Gothic-styled walls of the 17th-century Colonels' House draw photographers in search of handsome colonial architecture. Others come to see the whitewashed townhouses and the palm-lined park, where views of surrounding volcanos dominate.

    On Tuesday and Friday mornings, the La Oliva market occupies the village plazas and street sides. It's a hubbub of chatting locals and farm-to-table shops – the perfect place to bag any souvenirs and gifts. From spice-packed mojo sauces to Canarian saffron to handmade shell jewellery, there's plenty to spend your euros on.

    Location: La Oliva, Las Palmas, Spain

    Open: Tuesday and Friday from 10 am to 2 pm


    photo by Frank Vincentz (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Isla de Lobos

    Cotton-white beaches and see-through waters

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    Take a 15-minute ferry ride from Fuerteventura to see the glorious Isla de Lobos, an uninhabited rock between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura's north coast. Just when you thought the beaches of Fuerteventura couldn't get any better, Isla de Lobos offers even more idyllic places for you to sunbathe. Boats leave for Isla de Lobos every day from the nearby resort town of Corralejo.

    The island is a designated nature reserve that hosts a single lighthouse and a few fishing shacks. The shoreline is laced with rugged rocks, but also offers emerald waters and pristine sands at the famous Playa de la Concha. You could laze there for hours, but you'd miss the coastal walks past salt marshes and up to Caldera Mountain.

    Location: Isla de Lobos, 35660, Las Palmas, Spain


    Mojo picón sauce

    Test your taste buds on the peppery local condiment

    • Food

    No trip to the Canaries could possibly be complete without a sampling of the islands' own tongue-tingling mojo picón sauce. A fiery concoction of cayenne peppers and paprika, it's certainly not for the faint-hearted. The locals will tell you how every household seems to have its own recipe for the red stuff. You're probably better off not asking for it though – it's often a family secret.

    Typically, mojo picón is drizzled over salt-baked potatoes or griddled fish as part of a tapas. You'll want to pair that with a crisp Canarian wine. Try to indulge in these Canarian goodies at somewhere traditional like a sea-view taverna or a country village cantina.

    photo by jules (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Cap off your day with a cocktail, and maybe some karaoke

    • Nightlife

    Corralejo is by far the most vibrant spot in Fuerteventura, thanks to its wine bars, sleek restaurants, fish bistros, and bumping nightlife streets. Ending your day here can be about devouring uber-fresh seafood in fine-dining grills overlooking the marina. It can be also about bopping the night away on disco-lit dancefloors. There's karaoke, too, so prime those vocal cords. You can discover some cool beach shacks lining the sands for sundowner beers.

    During the day – if you're awake in time – Corralejo is a prime place to organise scuba tours, surf trips, and boat outings around the island. The town has among the highest concentrations of tour operators around.

    Location: Corralejo, 35660, Las Palmas, Spain


    photo by Bengt Nyman (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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