Things to Do in Fuerteventura
Lobos Island (Wolf Island) is named after the “sea wolves” (monk seals) that used to live here. Now a protected nature reserve, the small, rocky island is home to wildlife—from birds to sharks—beaches, hiking paths, a visitor center, and, at the northern tip, the lonely Punta Martiño Lighthouse.
The Canary Islands sit just 70 miles (113 kilometers) off the coast of western Africa. But the 6,425 acres (2,600 hectares) of rolling sand dunes within Fuerteventura’s Corralejo Dunes National Park (Parque Natural de Corralejo) might have you thinking you’re visiting the African continent as opposed to a beach-filled archipelago.
When it comes to remoteness and volcanic landscapes, the Canary Islands are good at making you feel like you’re a world away. And the barely-a-village, bayside Majanicho only adds to that magic. It will have you feeling like you’re on an expedition on the face of the moon – albeit one that includes surf-worthy beaches and an ocean.
Located along the northern coast of Fuerteventura, Majanicho is—at least for now—less a village than it is a collection of somewhat ramshackle houses cuddled up around the watery finger of a bay. Don’t expect to find restaurants or shops here, and rather just a rocky coast, and crystal-blue waters filled with the occasional dinghy used for fishing.
And then, of course, there are the surfers -- from windsurfers to kiteboarders and just regular old surfers – who know that these secluded waters offer up some great opportunities to catch either waves or wind. That is, however, as long as one takes great caution: the underwater volcanic rock makes these shores a natural booby trap for those not especially careful.
How long this humble paradise will remain so quiet is yet to be seen: a nearby housing develop is underway, and there’s word that this charming little bay may be turned into a harbor. Really, though, all the more reason to see it for yourself before it transforms into a tourist hot spot.
Though tourism has made its mark on many of Fuerteventura’s beaches and fishing towns, there are a few that have yet to fully feel its effects – and El Cotillo is no doubt one of them. While it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a destination for the masses, for now it remains a sweet former fishing village with idyllic shores ideal for all water lovers.
Located on the northwestern side of the island, El Cotillo has a laidback village vibe that’s hardly fancy, but still exudes a certain charm nonetheless. The town sidles up against the ocean, where you’ll find a rippled coastline complete with a selection of different kinds of beaches. Family’s can park themselves in the sand to the north along La Concha, which is protected on both sides, ensuring calm waters. On the other hand, those in search of both wind and waves will want to travel south to the long stretch of beach situated just beyond town.
Apart from the pueblo and beach lounging, what else is there to do and see in these parts? While you’re venturing from shore to shore, be sure to head south of El Cotillo’s harbor to check out the Fortaleza del Tostón, a tower-like fortress built in the 1790s to defend against pirates. Then, if you’re looking for unsurpassable panoramic views, head north to the Faro de Tostón, a lighthouse situated on a flat finger of land, and surrounded almost entirely by the sea.
Oasis Park Fuerteventura comprises the island’s only zoological park, a place where visitors can observe some 3,000 animals representing 250 species, including large Savannah animals, such as hippos, elephants, and giraffe. Zookeepers demonstrate natural behaviors of sea lions, parrots, and birds of prey during live shows.
At Acua Water Park—the only park of its kind in Fuerteventura—you can enjoy more than a dozen family-friendly attractions, including the Lazy River, the Wave Pool, and more. After zipping down slides and playing games in the Activity Pool, refuel with onsite dining options, relax in the Jacuzzi, or lie back on comfortable lounge chairs.
Fuerteventura isn’t all beaches and volcanic landscape—history and culture are highlights too, best discovered in the island’s most historic village, Betancuria. Named after the French explorer Jean de Béthencourt, who founded the town (and conquered the island), Betancuria served as Fuerteventura’s capital until the late 1800s. It was selected as such in hopes that its inland location would be protected from pirates; unfortunately that wasn’t quite the case, as almost the entire village was virtually destroyed in the 1500s (and later rebuilt, of course).
Expect to find a quintessential Canarian pueblo here, including whitewashed buildings set upon the backdrop of a volcanic landscape. A visit here doesn’t just promise a charming town either: you can learn more about the region’s inhabitants and history with a trip to the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography. Also of note is the Santa Maria Church, with its humble white exterior, and lavishly baroque interior altar.
If you wish to truly experience the island’s culture, however, then plan to visit the larger region of Betancuria during the third week of September, when Fuerteventura celebrates the Pilgrimage of Peña. This is when people from all over the island—and even beyond, from elsewhere in the Canaries—make the journey to the region of Betancuria to pay tribute to Fuerteventura’s patron saint, the Virgen de la Peña. Though religious, other cultural traditions are celebrated during this time too. (Note that the celebration takes place in Vega de Rio Palmas, which is located a short drive away from the town of Betancuria.)
If you’re looking to get a dose Fuerteventuran culture, then look no further than the inland village of Pájara, located in the central part of the island. Nestled up against Betancuria Natural Park, Pájara is where you’ll find whitewashed-building-lined streets, a famous church, and heaps of classic Canarian charm.
Indeed, it’s that church, though, that draws many a visitor to this interior town. Called Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Regla, the holy building dates back to the late 1600s and is noted for its ornate and gilt altar (which allegedly came from Mexico) and elaborate façade that some speculate, with good reason, has Aztec influences (after all, Spaniards returned from the Americas with more than just corn and potatoes).
Apart from its main sight, the church, Pájara’s sweet streets are worth a walk around. It’s a village where you can get a sense of days gone by as locals shoot the breeze in the pueblo’s main square, the wind rustles in the palm trees and through the patches of cacti, and a donkey demonstrates how the old mill works in front of Town Hall.
Yes, the resorts and out-of-towners have landed on the Fuerteventuran shores of Morro Jable. But for good reason, as this coastline, which spans the dogleg corner of the south, is lined by virtually unending, white-sanded shores.
Although the bulk of the city’s foreign residents and visitors hail from Germany, the former fishing village still retains some of its previous, more old-fashioned vibe. Go up hill from the port, and that’s where you’ll find it—in Morro Jable’s old town. It’s hardly anything fancy to be sure (or super historic), but the Mentos-colored buildings, and narrow streets lend a sweet nod to days gone by. Of course if you head farther eastward, you’ll come across the more luxurious, palm-tree-lined housing developments that make this such a coveted enclave for non-Canarians.
But really it’s the beaches that are the draw, spanning several kilometers of the coast. Along these shores, you can lounge in the sun, walk the lengthy and often restaurant- and bar-lined promenade, or take to the sea to enjoy various watersports. And, if you tire of the beaches here, you can always catch a ferry that will whisk you off to neighboring Gran Canaria.
There was a time when the town of Antigua represented the center of Fuerteventuran life—not only is it situated in the middle of the island, but it once served as its capital. Relinquished of that capital title only a year after it was granted (in 1834), Antigua remains one of the island’s most historic towns, and maintains some of that old-fashioned charm today, making it an intriguing stop during your visit to this corner of the Canaries.
The 18th-century pueblo ticks all the usual Canarian boxes: whitewashed buildings, palm-tree-lined streets, and an abundance of cacti scattered among the volcanic landscape. It’s also home to the 16th-century Nuestra Señora de la Antigua Church, which looks over a square of still more palm trees, that give way to a hilly horizon beyond.
Perhaps the most notable sight, though, sits just north of town: the windmill and cactus garden. Called El Molino de Antigua, the mill itself is in pristine condition and sits next to a complex where you can discover a whole lot more about the region’s culture. There’s an artisanal shop complete with purchase-able local crafts, as well as a cactus garden in which you can wander. Perhaps best of all, you’ll even come across the recently opened Museo del Queso—the Cheese Museum—which highlights Fuerteventura’s majojero cheese, via exhibits on the island’s farming culture, flora and fauna, and, of course, especially through cheese sampling.
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