For Europeans seeking a warm getaway, the Canary Islands have long been one of the most consistent hotspots for year-round holidays. Yet these isles have oft been looked down upon as full of massive resorts catering to hard partiers or loud families seeking generic package deals. Fuerteventura is the tonic to any of those concerns.
As a sunny spot with cerulean skies, it is an ideal getaway virtually any time, but for sun-starved travellers seeking an escape from grey skies and cold weather, this is a winter wonderland. With its clear blue waters, empty stretches of white beaches, and stunning volcanic landscapes, Fuerteventura is a peaceful retreat for anyone wishing to avoid some of Europe’s infamous party islands that are packed full of high rises built on overly developed lands. This Spanish island around 100 km from the coast of north-western Africa has pleasant year-round temperatures and very few rainy days.
Fuerteventura offers visitors a variety of intimate boutique hotels, nature-oriented adventures, enjoyable little towns, and miles of quiet beaches. Friendly, hard-working locals and transplants strive to offer visitors unique experiences, delightful seafood, and many other special ways to ‘get away from it all.’
On the flight in, our landing is full of exciting anticipation. After hundreds of miles of only laying eyes on whipped cream-like clouds and blue ocean waters, spotting the islands of Lanzarote, then Los Lobos second, and Fuerteventura third, is a thrill. Viewing their dramatic and rolling scenery from the air is an enchanting way to start the trip, so try your best to secure a window seat before boarding. Upon landing and leaving the airport, the views get better as you go.
Driving north towards Corralejo, observe the rolling volcanic valleys and fields where little green plants occasionally peek out, the dusty red mountains to your left, the sandy white dunes to your right, and soak in that stunning blend of multiple shades of neon turquoise water. Don’t blink or you might miss the occasional herds of adorable wild goats soaking up the balmy sun while nibbling on grasses, too!
Contextually translated, the name Fuerteventura means ‘Strong Winds.’ In 2009, the locals began harnessing their sea breezes to take a sustainable step forward. On the edge of Corralejo, two 45 metre high wind turbines are powering the area’s ability to desalinate water from the sea, providing residents with a renewable, stabile supply of water.
So while the Canaries often inspire groan-inducing mental images of high-rise holidays full of noisy families with kids or tipsy hen and stag dos, there are actually many unique and delightful experiences to be had in this part of the world.
Here are five ways that sunny Fuerteventura offers a fabulous ‘un-package holiday’:
Small, boutique eco resorts will make your trip extra special
Staying at a quiet, small eco resort means a much more personal holiday which you’ll depart from feeling refreshed and full of special new memories. Supporting local businesses that have a sustainable slant on tourism is also a wonderful way to be a responsible traveller. We stayed at the beautiful and relaxing adults-only Avanti Hotel, located on the northern tip of Fuerteventura, amidst the fun and unpretentious harbour town of Corralejo. With its soothing white and blue colour scheme, its airy and spacious rooms, you’ll find all your comforts taken care of. Avanti also prepares a delicious breakfast that’s included in the room rate. It’s full of colourful fruits, made to order to eggs, pastries, fresh rolls, and more.
Leaving the windows open or spending time on your deck also welcomes the gentle sound of waves breaking nearby into your room. The rooftop hot tub boasts gorgeous views of two nearby islands: Los Lobos and Lanzarote. Choose an eco resort like Avanti for a combination of peaceful relaxation and access to the amenities and buzz of a town like Corralejo. And of course, for your green cred!
There are many adventures to be had
Heading in to explore the rocky, volcanic interior of Fuerteventura is almost like seeing the moon or Mars. With more than 160 extinct volcanoes covering this isle, it’s easy to understand why and how the landscape became so dramatic and lovely. From hiking to cycling to driving dune buggies, there are just so many ways to explore the striking scenery. Yet one of the most memorable and exhilarating experiences we had was a dune buggy expedition with Corralejo Buggies. Their friendly and helpful team are on hand to guide and assist visitors and ensure that everyone is safely geared up.
Whether flying solo or with a partner, driving a dune buggy around the rugged landscape, rocky roads and coastal cliffs is a total blast. With lunar, volcanic valleys and red, rocky Mars-like roads, this landscape is almost reminiscent of outer space. Driving around in an open-air buggy, taking in the scent of salty breezes, is simply fabulous. For those desiring unique experiences such as getting up close and personal with an extinct volcano crater, off-roading, visiting one of the best beaches on the island, and other fun outdoor adventures, a dune buggy adventure is a must-do. It is truly unforgettable and one of the very best ways to spend your time on Fuerteventura.
Island hopping is a real (and easy) option
While you’re in the town of Corralejo, head over towards the harbour. Once there, you won’t be able to miss the row of the sales stands offering a multitude of ways to get to nearby Los Lobos Island. While there are large boats which make trips to Los Lobos, one of the most fun routes is hiring a driver from the small powerboats. At around €13 per person round trip, it’s also a fairly economical option. Quickly gliding through the blue waters on a smaller, open-air boat offers a thrilling ride for this all-too short trip over to the nature filled haven of Los Lobos Island.
Much like how the boat ride alone is worth experiencing, pulling into Los Lobos’ tiny and humble harbour is charming in and of itself. You’ll see some of the most remarkable shades of blue in those clear waters. Once on land, the hiking begins and this ever-shifting landscape does not disappoint. Los Lobos has been a nature reserve since 1982, and today, it is well preserved and free from crowds. Peace and quiet are de rigueur here, and solitude is easy to find.
Visitors can walk all over the island, seeing everything from salt marshes to green valleys to the 417 foot tall (127 metres) Montaña La Caldera to smaller (extinct) volcanic structures. Near the lighthouse, there are sweeping views across the water to nearby Lanzarote. A fantastic way to end your explorations of the island is at the island’s only beach, which is just a short walk from the harbour.
Before embarking on your trip to Los Lobos, it’s also a good idea to pack some snacks and liquids in a day bag. There are very few options to buy any of these items on Los Lobos, so you will thank yourself for the foresight. Sunscreen and a hat are also strongly recommended.
From cycling to hiking to surfing, visitors can get active in nature
Fuerteventura’s towns, waters, and beaches are delightful enough as is, but this island’s lunar landscape and double UNESCO status (its land, seas and skies are protected and recognised as an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and an UNESCO Starlight Reserve) mean that it offers a great deal to prospective visitors who adore the great outdoors.
From the massive white dunes in the Parque Naturale to the volcanic interior, this biosphere island is chock full of amazing scenery. So why not experience the unique environment first hand? It’s an amazing location for hiking and hiring mountain bikes, as well as being a major destination for experienced surfers who want to play in the waves. Fuerteventura has surfing classes for interested newbies, and there’s also a company running stargazing expeditions. With so many options to choose from, getting active is easier than ever.
The local restaurants offer so much to choose from (and many stay open during siesta time!)
Last but certainly not least, one of everyone’s favourite reasons to travel is food, of course! This is one reason why staying near a town is fantastic – the close, easy proximity and amount of choice you’ll have is wonderful. After enjoying a great meal and a glass of Spanish wine at one of the cute local restaurants, being able to walk it all off with a wander along the harbour road or through the old town courtyards is a delightful way to cap off any evening.
Corralejo is full of delicious options, too. The local restaurants serve up fresh seafood (and many other delightful choices), the courtyard cafes often have lively, fun musicians playing at night, and the waterside eateries have lovely, romantic harbour views. One restaurant in particular, Gilda’s Pinchos and Tapas, has some of the best food in town. When it comes to sweets, at low prices and generous servings, the nearby ice cream shop La Nativa has some of the best ice cream ever (oh, to have their pistachio ice cream just one more time!).
So, whether you’re seeking a relaxing getaway, an active one, or a combination of those two, Fuerteventura is a special island that will deliver a delightful, unique green holiday.
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