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The first time I visited the Canary Islands, I was 16 and staying in an all-inclusive hotel with a friend and her family. We spent the entire seven days in Gran Canaria eating burgers and pizza next to the swimming pool, not venturing out of the resort once. And although I had a great time, I remember thinking, what is the point?
What’s the point of travelling all that way to do nothing? Surely, if you travel somewhere, you want to actually see the place, right?
I know, I know, some of you will argue that you travel to relax and enjoy the sunshine, which is something we definitely don’t get enough of here in the UK. And I’m not judging anyone who does this, as we all need a little R&R from time to time.
But personally, if I travel several hours to a destination, I want to get out and experience it. The scenery, the food, the culture…everything. Otherwise, I may as well stay at home and save my money.
And I think that’s why I’ve never felt drawn to the Canary Islands. I thought there was nothing to see, no reason to go other than to sit by the pool and chill. But I was wrong. And I only discovered this when my sister and her husband packed up and moved to Fuerteventura.
They planned to spend at least a year on the island, maybe more if circumstances allowed, and in March 2017, I booked some last minute flights and headed over to the Canaries to see them both.
In all honesty, I was going purely to spend time with my sister as I was still not convinced there was much to see, despite my sister trying to persuade me otherwise.
As mentioned in my travel guide to Fuerteventura (link below), I challenged my sister to show me the best of what Fuerteventura had to offer. And I was pleasantly surprised.
In addition to the tourist resorts, tacky bars and karaoke nights, I found a rugged, mostly unspoilt island that is rich in culture and history. I’ll admit that I didn’t fall in love with Fuerteventura in the same way as other places I’ve been to, but I did start to see its charm and beauty.
From white sandy beaches, rolling sand dunes, rustic villages and epic mountains, Fuerteventura has a lot to keep you entertained for a week or more, especially if chilling by the pool isn’t your thing. And let’s face it, it’s great to get some winter sunshine to break up the long, bleak UK winters.
So, what is there to do in Fuerteventura? Here’s a brief list of the main attractions, but if you want a more detailed overview, check out my list of amazing things to do in Fuerteventura.
- Wander the streets of El Cotillo, surf or enjoy some tapas
- Chill out on the beach in Corralejo
- Wander around Corralejo’s old town
- Check out the sand dunes in Parque Natural de Corralejo
- Visit the rustic, beautiful and historical town of Betancuria
- Enjoy the view and a coffee at the top of Mirador Morro Velosa
- Hire a scooter and enjoy the mountain road south from Betancuria
- Explore the beautiful beaches in the south
- If you’re an adrenaline junkie, hire a dune buggy!
- Do some wind-surfing
When I left Fuerteventura the first time, I didn’t expect to visit again so soon. But in December, we headed for a last minute break with some friends for a relaxing week in the sun. This time, my husband was with me and I was keen to show him the island and get his verdict.
I was convinced it wouldn’t be his scene, as he loves luscious, green landscapes and Fuerteventura is definitely not luscious, or green. But to my surprise, he actually loved it and is dead set on going back.
Of course, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve had to eat a large slice of humble pie and learn not to judge a book by its cover.
Basically, what I want to say is this: there is culture to be found everywhere if you search for it hard enough and I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to get out and see the place your visiting, even if it’s only for one day. Because ultimately, travel is the best way to open your mind and broaden your horizons.
Hi, I have a question. I just got a hunch that I should go to Fuerteventura and following this hunch I found your blog 🙂 Thanks for writing it! My question is: I love lush green places just like your husband does, and with that info, do you have any tips for me? The question behind the question for me is that I’m really looking for places to go to in the (Dutch) winter to not wither like a plant that wasn’t supposed to be out all winter. In other words: I don’t like winter, please save me 🙂 To add to the challenge I’d like to find a place, or places, that I can travel without plane. To make it sustainable. I’d love to find this home away from home. And since you’ve been around and your husband has the same taste as I do, perhaps you know just a place! And perhaps you don’t, and that would be fine too 🙂 Thanks for even reading this! Warm regards, Bart
I agree with you there – not liking winter! Neither do I! Fuerteventura is a beautiful place if you can look past the touristy places. It’s not lusciously green though. From my experience, there aren’t a lot of very green places you can visit in Europe during the winter. We adore the Greek Island of Corfu but it’s not warm during the winter. I have heard Madeira is beautiful. Or perhaps somewhere further south like Cyprus. We visited Cyprus last year and it was very nice.
Ive been coming to this wonderful island since 1986, ive also been all over the world but keep coming back to the canaries yes i have other places that i adore, cape verde, louisiana, ko samui, the gambia but for me fuerteventura keeps coming out on top. `ive bought a small place here now and have never looked back. its friendly and has its problems just as all places do but …… its fu**%g heaven !!! looking forward to st patricks day xxxx
It’s great when you find somewhere you fall in love with and can return to time and time again to the point where it becomes a second home.
The pictures you’ve shared are so beautiful! I’m glad to hear that this trip had changed your perspective—that’s the magic of traveling, right? Thank you for sharing, I’ll be adding Fuerteventura on my travel bucket list!
My fav Canary island 🙂
Oooh, you so got me with the beginning! I used to think the same about some “friends” from high school. They just went to Spain to lay on the beach, and my view on Spain wasn’t positive at all. A year after finishing high should, I went to Spain and discovered an amazing country with amazing people. I ended up returning and lived there for almost two year, falling more in love. Thus, the puzzle about my former friends became even bigger for me; why go somewhere to just do nothing and not explore?
Thanks for sharing your experience! And for the beautiful pictures 🙂
That’s a great story! I was so convinced I’d hate Fuerteventura, even to the point where I was annoyed that my sister had moved there and not somewhere more interesting. As it happens, it’s beautiful. Taught me a lesson for sure!
I have the same feelings about travel too! While I love a little R&R by the pool, I definitely need to get out and explore! I would love to visit the Canary Islands one day!!
I know everyone’s different, but personally I love seeing the people and the culture that built a place!
I felt the same way about most ‘resort’ places until I actually started going. I don’t know how it never occurred to me that the resorts are just a tiny part of a place! Love seeing the little hidden away parts now! Fab post – lovely pics!
Exactly! There’s a danger that we become travel snobs and avoid the ‘touristy’ places in favour of more authentic experiences, but as someone already commented, these places often became popular for a reason!
Perfect post! I felt exactly the same about the Canary Islands until I went to Lanzarote – there is quite a lot to do if you search for it – the volcanic scenery is so strange, but beautiful in its own way, there are lots of places to walk or cycle along the coast, and there are quite a lot of watersport activities to do as well! The perfect sun doesn’t hurt either! Although they definitely aren’t on the TOP of my list, they certainly can be a lovely respite from British weather, and a fun, chilled holiday!
Absolutely. I agree with you when you say it’s not top of my list but like you said, great for some winter sun when we Brits need it most ha! Thanks for your comment. I’ll be sure to check out Lanzarote soon too!
I can completely relate to this (and I’m glad you’ve changed my mind about another Spanish island!). Ibiza is the same for me. Went there for a girls getaway – sun, sea, sangria – and was blown away by Ibiza old town. Most people don’t realise it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s absolutely lovely. There’s two sides to every place 🙂
I’ve heard that about Ibiza. It’s a shame it’s got a bad rep for only being a party island, but my grandparents always loved going to Ibiza and it’s safe to say they weren’t going for the clubs ha!
I think travel and travel information has changed so much and so rapidly that people now have the ability to ‘think outside of the resort’ – which is great! Thanks for sharing, must be nice having a place to hop over to that you enjoy 🙂
Especially in the winter when everywhere else in Europe is so chilly!
It’s always good to reflect on trips and share what you learned!
Every trip teaches us something!
It’s amazing what you can see when you look beyond the usual tourist spots!
Definitely! It sometimes take a little extra effort, but it’s always worth it.
It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised with yourself over a previous opinion!
Yes, it’s great because it means I have one extra winter holiday destination to visit now! Haha!
This is gorgeous! Definitely proof that you have to visit a place more than once to really experience it!
Love it! It’s wonderful to admit when you are wrong and to see a place with new eyes. Good on you for being honest and demonstrating that there really are many things to appreciate everywhere!
Thanks! I was pleasantly surprised. And I know my sister is going to love my admitting I was wrong! ha!