Fuerteventura is the second largest island in the Canaries with a surface area of 1,660 sq. km. Elongated in shape at 100km in length by roughly 31km kilometres wide, it has a population of approximately 105,000, a figure which has increased significantly over the past decade, largely due to emigration.
The highest point on Fuerteventura is at 807m at Pico de Jandia in the south. The whole island was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2009. Don’t forget to check out our album of photos of Fuerteventura!
What’s one of the great things about Fuerteventura? Try the 150km of white sand beaches! Fuerteventura is characterised by white-blonde beaches, undulating sand dunes, azure seas, sun and surfboarding. It’s often called the Hawaii of Europe and deservedly so.
The north of Fuerteventura
In the far north of Fuerteventura is the municipality of La Oliva with the small town of La Oliva situated inland between the east and west.
La Oliva was the capital of Fuerteventura at one point, after Betancuria relinquished it and before Puerto del Rosario became the capital. La Oliva still has important landmarks such as the 18th century Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria with its three naves and bell tower plus the ‘Colonel’s House.’ These days however, it’s a fairly quiet place with not too many other attractions although for those walking the Fuerteventura GR131 trekking route, it is an invaluable stopping point with Corralejo 26km away, Lajares 9km and at Punta de Jandia 123km.
Corralejo lies along the north-eastern coast of Fuerteventura. The town consists of a charming old quarter with its own ‘town beach’ (very much like a Cornish cove), beach-side restaurants and bars occupying the original old houses, the marina and ferry port with regular ferries to Lanzarote and Los Lobos. The new part of Corralejo extends a couple of kilometres to the south, close to the coastline and this is where you will find the tourist-type shops lining the broad, main road (electronics, gift shops, shopping centres, bars and restaurants). In between the main road and the sea are attractive low-rise apartments, holiday complexes and the Campanario shopping centre built in the Canarian style and with frequent markets. There are also the original iconic windmills of white-washed stone to be seen at both ends of Corralejo.
The hugely impressive, vast sand dunes lay at the southern end of Corralejo along with the large 5-star hotel, the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia. The main road to the south runs close by and with road-side parking, it feels like a scene from Laurence of Arabia but without the danger of getting lost or dying of thirst!
The biggest sea-based activities are surfing and kite-surfing and there are any number of surf schools in Corralejo and surf boards to rent. However, Corralejo is a resort for all ages – just pick your favourite spot for your favourite sport!
El Cotillo, located on the north-west coast, was once a significant trading port in the Canaries. The Castillo de El Tostón, a two-story stone tower with drawbridge, still exists the original having been built to protect the port against pirates. Nowadays El Cotillo is a small town/fishing village still with a small harbour and fishmen’s cottages. Whilst it is not developed as a tourist resort, it does have a selection of small thematic gift shops and highly respected fish restaurants. Surfing and kite-surfing is hugely popular from the beach adjoining El Cotillo and there are several apartment buildings and other lodgings to accommodate surfers and holiday-makers in general.
Los Lobos island is located off the north-east coast and although it is not permanently inhabited, there is a popular restaurant and a few small fishing cottages. The island, which has a circumfernace of 3km, is a Nature Reserve and valued for its bird life. Although much of the island is fairly flat with dotted peaks, it does have a high point at 127m, the Montaña la Caldera. Other points of interest include a lighthouse, marshlands, heather, lagoons and a blonde sand beach which is excellent for swimming. Several daily ferries make the 15-minute crossing from Corralejo to Los Lobos and a trip to the island is popular with both locals and tourists.
In the middle!
In the centre of the island by the east coast is the island’s capital and port of Puerto del Rosario. Maybe this is not the prettiest town in the Canaries but it’s certainly functional especially as the bus station there acts as a hub for all bus routes. Fuerteventura airport with international flights is located just south of the Puerto del Rosario.
Inland are the mountains of the Parque Natural de Betancuria along with a diverse landscape of palm trees, rocks and emblematic windmills of yesteryear.
Betancuria was once the capital of Fuerteventura – with its cobbled streets and historic houses, if you are looking for ‘quaint’ this is it! The small centre of Betancuria is filled with large, old houses which now act as restaurants, ‘tea rooms,’ and small shops with handmade souvenirs such as pottery and embroidery, although some houses are still lived in. Apart form the church of Santa Maria which was re-built in 1691 after the pirate Jaban reduced it to rubble in 1593, there is also an interesting paddle water mill at the southern end.
The GR131 walking route runs through Betancuria – with Pajara at 16.3km and Vega de Rio Palmas at 6.5km.
The south of Fuerteventura
The southern half of the island with the municipalities of Antigua, Pájara and Tuineje is characterised by long flat beaches with small sandy coves.
At the extreme south of Fuerteventura is the Peninsula de Jandia and what could be described as a ‘foot,’ the ankle of which is just 5km wide. At the heel of the foot is Morro Jable and at the toe, Punta de Jandia.
Places to Stay
Accommodation on Fuerteventura ranges from the simple room-only ‘pensiones’ to luxury hotels. Other accommodation comprises villas, apartments and other hotels. Check out our page for long-let accommodation to rent.
The main tourist resorts are Corralejo in the north and Morro Jable in the base of the south plus the purpose-built resort of Caleta de Fuste to the south of the airport on the east coast.
Much of the interior, with its large plains, lavascapes and volcanic mountains, consist of protected areas. However there are good roads for cars, organised coach tours, walking expeditions on the GR131 and other routes, horse riding and quad-bike tours.
Fuerteventura is a mecca for water sports, particularly surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing plus lately, stand-up boarding. SCUBA diving on Fuerteventura and big game fishing are also fabulous ways to enjoy the sea. There are also golf courses with walking and hiking possibilities also available. Plus of course – the sun!
February and March on Fuerteventura is Carnival time with celebrations going on seemingly all over the island.
Corralejo celebrate every July 16 the Feast of the Virgen del Carmen, protector of sailors from the Canaries. During this fiesta, the statue of the Virgin is taken out of the holy cloister by sailors (or fishermen) who put it in a boat and in a procession, the statue is taken to a nearby beach.
At the Puerto del Rosario, the fiesta to honour the patron saint of the island takes place on the first Sunday in October – it’s a massive fiesta with parades, live music, food and of course wine.
Fuertemúsica is a lively music festival aimed to promote local artists highlights. This event is held annually, in the vicinity of El Cotillo.
The roads on Fuerteventura are excellent and apart from hire cars and taxis, there is also an excellent bus service which is run by the company ‘Tiadhe.’ You can check out the bus service at their website here: http://www.maxoratabus.com/tiadhe/en/
The main hospital in Fuerteventura is the Hospital General Virgen de la Peña de Fuerteventura and is situated 1km out of Puerto del Rosario located on the road heading to the Airport, the Carretera del Aeropuerto. However, you will find health centres and pharmacies in every populated area.
Schools There are the usual range of schools on Fuerteventura from kindergarden to higher schools, however there are no British schools.
Town Hall/Ayuntamiento If you move to the Canary Islands, you will become a frequent visitor to your local Town Hall not just to pay your taxes such as a type of council tax, car tax, water rates and rubbish collection but also to register to vote and get cheaper travel within Spain. Each municipality on Fuerteventura has its own Ayuntamiento.
British Consulate in Spain The main British Consulate for UK nationals in Spain is Madrid. You can check out the website here: British Embassy However, there are two British Consulates in the Canary Islands – one in Tenerife and the other in Gran Canaria. Fuerteventura comes under the Las Palmas Consulate. Here’s the address and contact details:
British Consulate Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Calle Luis Morote 6-3º
E-35007 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Fax +34 928 267 774
902 109 356 (in Spain)
+34 913 342 194 (outside Spain)
Consular phone lines are open from 8:00am to 4:00pm.
Fuerteventura Tourist Board
Almirante Lallermand, Nº1. C.P.: 35.600
Puerto del Rosario.
Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 3:00pm.