1. Year round sunshine with average highs of 22 Celsius in winter and 28 C in summer; approximately 15 days of rain per year.
2. Surfing, yoga, hiking, walking, nature.
3. Nature reserves and UNESCO Biosphere status
4.Beautiful beaches with striking contrast between black volcanic rock and white sand.
5. A mellow, laidback atmosphere.
6. Some wonderful restaurants and seafood.
7. It’s cheap – drink, food, duty-free shopping, accommodation.
As a native of Ireland where winter lasts about eleven months, I crave bursts of sunshine to get me through the eternal grey skies of my beloved homeland. Corralejo in Fuerteventura is only 4 hours and 20 mins from Dublin by plane and it’s my new winter-sun-fix for the foreseeable future. As a Canary Island, it relies on tourism and there is naturally a very commercial side to it but it’s nowhere near the saturation levels of other resorts and islands in the region. There’s a commercial strip in Corralejo’s centre but there’s enough hiking among nature reserves, dormant volcanoes and lunar landscapes for anyone who wants to avoid the tacky factor.
Surfing is massive here – from absolute beginners at surfing school to seasoned surfers who’ve never managed to leave, surf is the word of the day here.
Yoga is also a big part of life and you’ll see yoga classes taking place all over the beaches in the morning. The retreat at Azulfit (http://www.azulfit.com/retreat-location/fuerteventura-retreats/) is meant to be excellent but it’s not exactly cheap so if you are on a budget, just book accommodation and find a yoga class when you get there. I did yoga on the beach while there and found the sand and distractions a bit of a pain so I’d recommend a studio class.
I saw quite a few families with small children here, as well as retired couples who own homes on the island – Irish, British, Spanish. This is probably because there isn’t a rowdy, Benidorm scene here – no lager louts or wet t-shirt competitions (maybe you’ll find them if you look for them?).
No shortage of them. El Cotillo is a fishing village, north-east of the island, with stunning cliffs and waves, and some great seafood. Less developed than the rest of the island, it’s 50 minutes from Corralejo by public bus.
The seafood at El Roque de los Pescadores is quite exceptional. The staff don’t speak much English but that didn’t stop me from having fantastic food – when I asked the waiter to explain the fish on the menu because my Spanish wasn’t up to it, he took me to the giant fish on display under glass so I could see for myself. No words needed.
Isla De Lobos is a little island haven, accessible by (pretty small) ferry in 20 mins from Corralejo. Return trip by ferry is 15 Euro for adults and 10 Euro for 4-11 year-olds.
The tiny island is largely uninhabited and if you take the 10 a.m. ferry, you’ll experience an almost eerie silence and an other-worldly landscape. Expect lagunitas (little lakes), black rock, a sprinkling of fishing boats, tiny swamps and a dormant volcano. There’s a couple of walking trails so you can walk around the island for a couple of hours or do shorter walks for an hour or so.
Bring a packed lunch or book lunch with the ONE restuarant on the island- they may offer paella or fish for 7 Euro.
La Oliva, an inland town, is about 35 minutes from Corralejo by public bus. First impression: one-horse town. Once I got over my initial prejudice, I actually enjoyed my little visit to La Oliva.
It is tiny but it offers a Baroque church, a colonels’ house (Casa de Coronales) and a museum of Canarian art. Viewed from the Colonel’s House its desolate, volcanic landscape is quite striking and just a little bit eerie with its abandoned shells of peasant houses. I was glad I stopped there, slowed down and absorbed it for a little while. Buses to and from are hourly with a two-hour gap in mid-afternoon so watch the timetable as you don’t want to get stranded there for too long.
A day trip to Lanzarote by ferry is also a popular option (but a bit pricey). See my post on Lanzarote: https://wordpress.com/post/travally.net/324
Eating in Corralejo
There are plenty of mediocre restaurants with fish swimming in ‘Canarian’ sauces but there are also some wonderful restaurants, especially if you like seafood that’s been caught on your doorstep by local fishermen.
Tantaluna, El Toro Beach, Gilda and Mi Casa all featured on my most recent visit to Corralejo.
Tantaluna offers Italian with a twist of originality. They make their own pasta, and their bunuelos – goat’s cheese on sticks in a super light batter – are to die for. From tuna in a sesame seed crust with guacamole to chocolate mousse with a hint of chilli, your palate won’t be bored.
Gilda Tapas Bar
Gilda Tapas Bar is casual and buzzy with its cheerful, eclectic decor, and a really good range of tapas, pinchos and wines. It’s tucked away on the corner of Calle Delfin.
Toro Beach Restaurant is located right on the beach, just off Calle la Red, near Waikik Bar. Toro offers fine dining in terms of atmosphere, decor and service yet the mains cost around 11 Euro or 14 for specials. It’s worth dressing up a little for its smart dining experience.
Sanus is the one everyone’s talking about at the minute. It caters for vegans, vegetarians, diabetics and celiacs but don’t panic – it’s not as virtuous as it sounds. There is meat and seafood in that mix of dietary needs and it’s great. The decor is minimalist and chic – a real relief from the tackiness along the main commercial strip. In high season you will need to book; it’s busy.
Mi Casa on Calle Maritima, facing the beach, is also highly recommended for its seafood and Mediterranean cuisine. Excellent food and service with a cheerful, nautical ambience. Also very popular and busy in peak season. Will definitely be going back on my next visit.
I kicked off winter 2016 in Corralejo and it looks like I’ll be ending it there in 2017. Counting down the weeks. (Update: I also started 2018 there!)