Fuerteventura looks like a place that belongs on another planet. Located 100 kilometres off the North African coast, Canary Islands’ second largest island is home to some of the most unique landscapes I’ve ever seen. It has different shades of saffron coloured sand, vast desert-like landscapes, baron stretches of dusty fields and hardly any vegetation for miles. Just when I began to think that’s all Fuerteventura had to offer, I was in awe of the photos I came across online as I did more research.
Fuerteventura has beautiful sandy beaches for days, approximately 150 kilometres of beaches to be exact, amazing ocean views and pristine roads that seemed to go on forever. It seemed like the perfect place to visit on a day trip and take a road trip while I was in Gran Canaria. It didn’t take me much convincing to come to the conclusion that I had to make it happen.
I started to look at ferries and car rentals for myself and was shocked at the cost and time it would take to venture over by ferry. Over €100 and about six hours return. Umm, no thank you! Ok, so now what? I had to think of a plan because I really wanted to visit another island while in the Canarias, so my brain started to think up alternative ways to reach the island and still enjoy it for a day trip from Gran Canaria.
I had an “ah-ha” moment and thought, “hey, what if I just flew there?”
I jumped online and found a cheap return flight for approximately €60 ($88 CAD) and it was only 40 minutes each way! I then looked up car rentals and came across Cicar, which had amazing deals on vehicles. I was able to rent a vehicle for only €34 ($49 CAD with zero deposit) for the 6-7 hours that I planned on being on the island and I could pay in cash. I ended up saving money by flying and could get to my destination much faster…it was a win-win!
SOLD! I booked my flight for the 7am departure, which was the first one of the day and would be returning to Gran Canaria around 8pm that same day.
I was stoked! Fuerteventura, here I come!
When the day arrived to fly to Fuerteventura, I was up extremely early (3:30am to be exact) to get ready and wait for my private airport cab that I had booked in advance and would be picking me up at my apartment at 4:30am. I used Reservas Taxis Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and they were absolutely fantastic. I can’t recommend them enough. They were on time and stayed in constant contact through WhatsApp, which I loved. My driver, Angel, was literally just that, an absolute angel. He was so nice, so courteous and assured me that he’d be waiting for me at arrivals when I landed later that night.
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As I arrived at the departures in Gran Canaria airport, I looked around and realized that I must have been one of the only people there. It was a ghost town. I had some time to kill, since I didn’t know that domestic gates didn’t open until an hour prior to take off time, so I grabbed a coffee, bleary eyed and sleepy and tucked into a coffee shop for about an hour.
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Time to check in and board – finally! It was an easy check in, since I didn’t have any bags to check, which slightly confused the airport staff, but hey, a girl’s gotta take a day trip! I got to my gate, plopped myself in a seat and sat there half asleep waiting to board. Jolted awake by the boarding announcement, I lined up and followed airport staff to the Canary Fly plane, which was waiting for us on the tarmac. I looked at my boarding pass and noticed there was no seat assigned. I found out that on the Canary Fly planes, they are open seated, so you can basically sit anywhere you want that is empty! So neat. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. Obviously I took the window. They also scared the shit out of me mid-flight when I surprisingly found out that they play advertisements over the speaker and a loud Spanish Mr. T was yelling out seat sales that nearly had my heart jumping out of my chest. LOL
The flight, although 40 minutes long, seemed to only take 20 minutes. We were in, up, down and out quickly and seamlessly! As I disembarked the aircraft, I said see you later to that staff (and I meant it) and walked my way towards the arrivals hall across the tarmac. I noticed it was cloudy and windy, like REALLY windy. Fuerteventura’s name literally translates to Strong Wind, so I was worried that I would be stuck with garbage weather the whole day. Fingers crossed.
After what seemed to be the easiest rental car experience, I made my way to my trusty car for the day, threw my things in the passenger seat and entered my first destination of Corralejo into my GPS. As I made my way out of the airport parking lot, I could still see that the weather wasn’t the greatest. Cloudy skies and a gusty wind. Within a few minutes of driving, I was out on the open road and wow, what a crazy view! Orange hills surrounding me and wide open desert-like spaces as far as I could see. I knew I was going to enjoy this road trip, so I turned up the Spanish music on the radio (as you would) and hit the open road without a plan. What a great feeling of total freedom!
Driving down the fantastic smooth roads, which were virtually empty of other cars, I felt as if I was on another planet surrounded by the craziest and geographically isolated areas of the island. To my surprise, the weather started to turn around and the sun started to come out and shine brightly. Perfection! I could tell that I was approaching civilization again once I started to see tiny villages along the road and signs for some resorts nearby. I was getting closer to Corralejo.
Corralejo, with it’s stunning volcanic backdrop landscape, is situated on the northeast coast of Fuerteventura and was once an old fishing village. Now, Corralejo is a sprawling and somewhat bustling resort town, with sandy white beaches, ocean views, nightlife scene and restaurants, which is now gaining popularity with European travellers looking for some much needed R & R. Water sport enthusiasts also love the windy weather of Fuerteventura and come to Corralejo to enjoy windsurfing and kiteboarding. After driving around aimlessly looking for parking, I ended up parking in what I thought was designated parking, but I wasn’t too sure, so I made sure to run to the beach just in case. I wandered down an alley and came out to a beautiful view of azure waters and a glimpse of Lobos Island in the distance, which is comprised of a largely uninhabited nature preserve that is home to many diverses flora and fauna and also rare birds. It’s totally accessible to get to Lobos Island as a day trip, so if you have the time and are staying on Fuerteventura, I’ve heard it’s a must see!
Next up, El Cotillo! From Corralejo, El Cotillo is just a short 30 minute scenic drive to the northeast coast of Fuerteventura and in the municipality of la Oliva. Once used mainly as a fishing village (fishermen still use it today to fish) in years passed, El Cotillo still manages to keep its old world charm, despite its growth and popularity with the surf crowd. It’s a very chill place and the views are insane! Once I entered the village, I could see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance and I wanted to make my way to the beach and enjoy watching the waves crashing in. I parked my car and headed down to Playa Los Lagos and walked along the dark onyx coloured volcanic-like rocks. There were people wading in the shallow rock pools and getting splashed by massive waves unknowingly as they tried to take selfies. It made for some great entertainment watching people get slammed by waves. There weren’t a lot of people around, so it’s a great spot to find a rock, sit back and relax while watching the waves come rolling in. Make sure to bring and use good sunscreen as well as sunglasses, or a hat because the reflection off the water and sun bouncing off the white sand is absolutely blinding.
I felt my neck burning, even though I had put sunscreen on (pale girl problems), so I hastily made my way back to my car and cranked the A/C while searching for my next destination of Betancuria. I then drove the FV-30 into Betancuria, which is by far, the GREATEST route I took while on Fuerteventura. The route is jam packed with the most insane and curvaceous roads I’ve ever driven in a car all while gaining elevation to give you views of the terrain below and the ocean in the far distance.
Betancuria is nestled within the inner valleys of Fuerteventura and was once the old capital city of the island and was declared Parque Natural de Betancuria (Betancuria Natural Park) due to its incredible biodiversity, beautiful landscapes and its historical significance. Within the mountains and far away from the coast, Betancuria has survived the passage of time and has retained the charm and beauty of over 600 years ago. Although surrounded by mountains in deep valleys, Betancuria was still subjected to many tumultuous raids by the Europeans and Berbers over the years gone by. Steeped in history and filled with cultural sites, Betancuria is a must see when visiting Fuerteventura. I loved wandering through the cobblestone alleys, taking in the stunning landscapes surrounding the village and eating in restaurants entirely engulfed in lush greenery, which provided me with a nice and shady oasis from the killer midday sun.
After a nice light lunch, I made my way back to my car, which I was slightly nervous about my entire time there, since I had a hard time finding parking, so I just kind of parked anywhere and hoped for the best. Good news. It was still there and no ticket! Success! It was time for me to head back towards the airport to return my rental and I made sure to give myself extra time because if you’re like me and love to take photographs along the way, an hour drive will probably turn into a two hour drive.
Driving back to the airport was bitter sweet. I was sad to leave Fuerteventura, but I was pretty happy that I got to drive the FV-30 once again going downhill this time around. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even need to touch the gas pedal the whole way down, which saved me some gas, that’s for sure!
As I got closer to the airport, I stopped to refuel my car before returning it and buy some snacks. Returning the car was just as easy as picking it up, which impressed me with how organized everyone was. My flight was changed to be a bit later than expected, which kind of bummed me out, as I could’ve rented the car for a longer amount of time, but instead, I was going to be stuck at the airport for five hours. Yikes! It was a blessing in disguise though because my phone, which I was using as my GPS, was at a measly 9% and of course, I left my charger back in Gran Canaria. Sitting in the airport, I chatted up a couple vacationing from the UK and they kindly let me use their phone charger as they too, waited for their flight.
Finally, after five hours, I was able to check in and head to my gate. I boarded the flight back to Gran Canaria with the same flight crew that brought me there earlier that morning, picked a window seat and was whisked smoothly back to Gran Canaria in 40 minutes. When I arrived in the arrivals hall, who was there smiling and waving at me? Angel! He was a man of his word and was right on time! I had stayed in contact with him on WhatsApp to let him know when I was boarding my flight from Fuerteventura and I was so impressed with the promptness and excellent customer service. I’ll definitely use them in the future for all of my taxi transfers in Gran Canaria if I need to get somewhere!
My time in Fuerteventura was definitely not long enough. There is so much to explore and see that I definitely couldn’t even scratch the surface during my day trip. Although I wasn’t on Fuerteventura for very long, I was there long enough to appreciate the island for what it is; absolutely mind blowingly beautiful. The unique landscapes that Fuerteventura has is something unlike I’ve ever seen before. I went into this trip with zero expectations and visiting Fuerteventura ended up being one of my favourite places I’ve visited during my travels. I knew it wasn’t going to be lush and dotted with beautiful forested areas, but I enjoyed seeing something totally unexpected like the incredible villages, deserted beaches, volcanic landscapes, which made Fuerteventura seem like a desert oasis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
If it’s crystal clear turquoise water, white sandy beaches, gorgeous landscapes, flowing roads with zero traffic, great food and friendly people and small amounts of tourists you’re looking for on your next vacation, definitely make sure you visit Fuerteventura. You won’t be disappointed, trust me!