Rocky and other-worldly, Fuerteventura is a geological dream with a huge range of natural features for little explorers. We went off the beaten track to explore this beautiful island with our two young children.
Situated off the west coast of Africa, Fuerteventura enjoys a warm climate year-round. Officially part of Spain, the main language is Spanish. Fuerteventura is far quieter than neighbouring Gran Canaria.
We hopped on a Jet2 flight from Bristol Airport and arrived in Fuerteventura 4hrs later (with the bumpiest landing we have ever experienced!). In April the weather was around 21° and sunny with a few showers, certainly warmer than the snowy UK.
We stayed near Jandia in the south of Fuertaventura which was certainly at the quieter and less-developed end of the island. If you’re looking for a more bustling place to stay, try Corralejo in the north. We chose the Fuerteventura Princess Jandia hotel which had heated pools with small slides, a playground and access to a golden sandy beach which was perfect for downtime.
Escaping the UK winter, we spent as much time as possible outside, discovering the beaches and letting the boys run free. We didn’t go to any paid attractions so here is our list of free things to do off the beaten path in Fuerteventura!
1. Corralejo Sand Dunes
Just south of Corralejo you will find Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo. This huge expanse of undulating sand dunes stretches from the coast to the mountains.
With no-one else for miles around, the boys ran freely over the powder soft sand dunes for hours until the sun set. It was safe and so much fun. Watch out for hidden cactus’s and, like most wild places, the occasional animal poo.
There’s roadside parking along the FV-104 highway or some car parks at more popular spots. There are cafes dotted along the dunes too so facilities vary depending on where you stop.
2. Discover the Beaches
With so many beautiful golden beaches to enjoy, we have put together our guide to the more unusual or quirky beaches you can explore on Fuerteventura:
Sandbanks: Playa de Sotavento
Head to Playa Sotavento near Jandia at high tide to see the amazing sandbanks and lagoons appear. At low tide it is possible to walk across the sand to the sandbanks. As the tide comes in, the area between the sandbanks and the mainland fills with around 50cm deep water (so don’t panic, you can still wade back near the Melia hotel if you need to!).
The easiest place to access the sandbanks is from the Melia hotel. There’s free parking and toilets in the hotel. Be careful of the windsurfers and their ropes as there are novice windsurfers around the area.
Popcorn: Playa del Mejillion
Somewhat off the beaten path… by which we mean 3km down a dirt track from Corralejo… you’ll find Fuerteventura’s Popcorn Beach. Officially known as Playa del Mejillón, the beach is covered in calcified algae known as rhodoliths which look just like pieces of popcorn. The boys really enjoyed the novelty value and kept jokingly reminding each other not to eat it.
We spent hours combing through the popcorn to find the biggest piece and coming across other treasures such as shells, sea glass and pretty stones. It might be tempting to take souvenirs but it’s important these treasures stay on the beach. In the nearby rockpools, Fin also spotted fish, shrimp and hermit crabs.
There is a small car park but no facilities at this beach. It is not accessible for wheelchairs/ strollers.
Black sand: Playa de Ajuy
Being a volcanic island, Fuerteventura has many black sand beaches to explore. Our favourite was Playa de Ajuy where you will also find some lovely small seafood restaurants, free parking, free public toilets and some caves to explore. The boys loved the black sand and enjoyed making up stories of volcanoes and dragons while they built black sandcastles.
We did try to reach Playa Negras for its black sand beach, however after driving through a river and into a military exclusion zone we turned back. There may be another way round but it’s probably best to avoid this one unless you know how to get there safely!
3. Plunge into the Natural Pools
Natural pools and lagoons appear across Fuerteventura at low tide, but our favourite were the pools at Playa del Valle. As the tide recedes, a 6km expanse of volcanic rock is exposed and huge turquoise pools are left behind. Teaming with huge crabs, fish, starfish and snails there’s plenty for the children to discover.
The pools are perfect for a swim in a sheltered place away from Fuerteventura’s iconic waves. Ranging from deep plunge pools to shallow paddling pools there’s something for everyone.
Drive to Playa del Valle at low tide to explore the natural pools. The road turns to a dirt track for the last 500m or so, and we parked in a small lay-by. Head down to the coast and turn right to start your adventure. There are no facilities here and it it not pushchair accessible. Wear good footwear and be prepared for some scrambling over rocks! Oh and keep an eye out for the tide coming back in.
4. Head to the mountains
The FV-605 mountain road boasts amazing views and a small car park at the side of the road where you can stop to ascend Mirador Sicasumbre.
A well-marked trail leads steeply from the car park to the top of Mirador Sicasumbre for epic 360° views of the mountains, desert and sea. The walk takes 5-10 minutes so is perfectly suitable for little legs. It’s pretty windy up there but the views make it worth it.
The trail is not pushchair accessible and there are no facilities.
5. Mollinos de Villaverde
Fuerteventura’s famous windmills are worth a stop for photos if you are passing by. Traditionally built in the 19th century to mill grains, the windmills are dotted all over the countryside. Today, Fuerteventura continues to harness the wind with wind turbines to generate up to 30% of the island’s electricity.
Head to Villaverde and you will see two windmills on a hill as you drive in. A gravel track will take you right up to them and there is space to park. There are no facilities and not much else to do here so only worth a stop if you’re passing by.
Other things to do
- Calderón Hondo: Of the six volcanos on Fuerteventura, this is the most accessible to hike.
- Playa Cofete: Difficult to reach down long gravel roads (not recommended in a hire car!) you can discover the beautiful Cofete beach.
- Island Hopping: Take the 15 minute ferry from Corralejo to Isla Lobos for turquoise waters, snorkelling and sea glass treasures, or take a longer ferry over to neighbouring Lanzarote (45min) or Gran Canaria (120min) to see more of the Canary Islands.
- Oasis Wildlife Park: We didn’t go to the zoo but it is a popular day trip on Fuerteventura with animal experiences and conservation
- Hire a car. Ok, we mean hire a car ahead of time as they get booked up quickly and we were told by several companies there were no cars left! Taxis are quite expensive (€1 per km) and there are not many buses. We found hiring a car to be more flexible than tours and enabled us to go at a slower pace… and down the occasional gravel road! We went with Europcar which wasn’t the cheapest but has no queue and were so quick and easy to use.
- Use SatNavs cautiously. We found Google maps, Apple maps and even the car’s own navigation system would take us down gravel tracks, across river beds and through military exclusion zones without warning.
- Take a baby carrier for young children (under 3) if you plan to explore off the beaten track. Many places are wild, rugged and unsuitable for strollers.
- Suncream! Sounds obvious but Fuerteventura is often windy and cloudy so although you might feel cold, the UV levels are usually high and it is very easy to suffer sunburn or heat exhaustion without realising.
Our budget was for four people over one week. We chose a package holiday this time, primarily for the covid cancellation protection!
- Flights, 4* Accommodation & Food/drink: £1,900
- Car hire x 3 days with car seats: £240
- Petrol x 430 km= £55
- Total: £2,195