Corralejo is one of the main resorts on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, the closest Spanish island to mainland Africa. You'll find it at the northern tip of the island, sprawling outwards from the port and harbour, a mixture of main touristy thoroughfares, and quieter back streets. It rubs up against the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and Fuerteventura's lunar volcanic landscape on the other — and it's one or the other of those natural features that draws most visitors here.
Getting to Corralejo
Fuerteventura Airport is a four-hour direct flight from Gatwick Airport, with plenty of budget airlines offering multiple flights each day. Luton and Stansted also offer direct flights, but Heathrow and City don't, at time of writing.
Once you're in Corralejo, unless you're planning to explore the rest of the island, you don't really need a car.
It's getting from Fuerteventura Airport to Corralejo, a distance of close to 40km, that's the tricky bit. Although the island has plenty of public buses, there's no direct bus route between the two — it's a case of getting a bus from the airport to the town of Puerto del Rosario, and changing there for another bus up to Corralejo. Fuerteventura bus information is available from Tiadhe, but if you've got the budget, a taxi or airport transfer is the simplest option.
The other way to arrive in Corralejo is by boat. The town's port offers regular ferry services to and from Playa Blanca, on the neighbouring island of Lanzarote, making it easy to indulge in a bit of island-hopping as part of your trip — more on which below.
Corralejo need to know
Weather: Fuerteventura literally translates as 'strong wind', so it can get a bit breezy around these parts. That said, it's closer to Africa than mainland Spain, so expects highs of 25°c+ in summer, and lows of around 12°c in the winter, with very little rainfall all year.
Language: Spanish is the language of Fuerteventura, but the majority of people speak English due to the large numbers of tourists.
Getting around: Fuerteventura is about 100km long and 25km wide, meaning you can get from tip to tip in around two hours if you have a car. The island's major road is the FV-1/2, running from tip to tip along the eastern coast. Further inland and over to the west of the island, roads aren't as prevalent due to the mountainous landscape. Buses do run between the main towns and resorts, but there are no trains on Fuerteventura. However, as with many tourist resorts, Corralejo boasts a healthy population of tour companies, eager and ready to take tourists to the main sites on the rest of the island, be it via coach, minibus, dune buggy, Jeep safari, e-bike, segway, or good old-fashioned trek through the volcanic landscape. Within Corralejo itself, it's fairly easy to get around on foot as it's a compact town, though taxis are readily available.
Carnival time: If you're visiting in early-mid March, it's Corralejo Carnival time. The event usually goes on for about 10 days, based out of the town's sports pavilion right near the harbour, and includes various daytime and evening processions, a drag queen gala, kids' events, live music shows, and the crowning of various carnival kings and queens. Don't worry though — if you're in town around that time, you won't miss it, as posters are plastered everywhere.
Accessibility: Corralejo is a fairly flat town (the exception being a short uphill spurt at the southern end of the main street, close to Gran Casino), with wide, well maintained pavements, making it easy for wheelchair users and people with mobility issues to get around — and there are plenty of benches too. Most shops are at street level, though do check with hotels and venues in the old town before you book. For easy access to the beach, your best bet is the ramp outside Rompeolas Restaurante down onto Playa la Clavellina, or accessing Playa de los Verilitos via Calle de la Red (next to the Billabong surf camp), where there's a level wooden boardwalk jutting out onto the sand, and a disabled public toilet too.
Inclusivity: The Canary Islands as a whole are a fairly LGBTQ+ friendly destination, and Corralejo in particular hosts the Rainbow Fuerteventura Pride festival each year, usually in December). TravelGay has a guide to LGBTQ+ Fuerteventura, including accommodation and nightlife.
Things to do in Corralejo
The main pastimes in Fuerteventura, aided by those strong winds and crystal clear waters, are watersports, and Corralejo's shoreline is littered with surf schools, catering for surfers, windsurfers and paddleboarders. It's not unusual to see people strolling through the town centre in dripping wetsuits, wielding surf boards under their arms, heading straight home from the sea without bothering with the niceties of drying or changing. It's casual like that around here.
We took a single afternoon lesson with Wave Rider Surf School more years ago than we care to admit to, which involved a minibus ride over to Playa del Costillo on the other side of the island — all surf schools around here live by the forecasts, and transport students to wherever the waves are most suitable for their ability on the day.
Elsewhere, international surf brand Billabong has a presence right on Corralejo's main beach, and offers accommodation for anyone wanting a completely surf-centric holiday.
On the southern edge of Corralejo, within easy walking distance of the town centre, is Acua Water Park, open in the summer months and home to nine different types of water slides for all ages and levels of courage, a lazy river, a wave pool, a giant jacuzzi and a watery obstacle course — one to bookmark if you're travelling with children. Speaking of which, Gambito Games, a gaming arcade with bowling alley, is another one worth knowing about if you're with kids.
Fuerteventura is home to its own mini desert, the Dunas de Corralejo Natural Park, one of Spain's national parks, consisting of a 10km-long, 2.5km-wide stretch of sand dunes, starting a short way south of Corralejo's town centre. The beautiful white sand against the turquoise blue sea makes for a dazzling backdrop for a hike, with designated trails criss-crossing the dunes. Just don't be surprised if you come across nude sunbathers.
Where to eat and drink in Corralejo
Corralejo's best-known for its fish and seafood, as well as paella. If that's your catch, La Playita is a popular seafood restaurant right on the beach, with harbour and sea views (with heaters for those chillier nights). It doesn't look like much from the outside, but don't let that put you off. El Anzuelo is another popular seafood spot, also offering pasta, pizza and the like for diners who aren't fans of fish.
Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Argentinian and American are among the cuisines represented in Corralejo. As with all tourist resorts, it's worth wandering away from the main streets and exploring a little come dinner time. Pulperia tapas bar seems to be well frequented by locals — always a good sign — and Alma is a perennially popular breakfast spot.
For a romantic atmosphere, Di Napoli pizzeria and Italian restaurant towards the southern end of town delivers by the bucket load, with fairylights, cacti and palm trees guiding the way down the stairs to a rustic-style interior — all exposed stonework, dramatic archways and dimly lit corners. That said, we've found the food to be hit and miss in the past, so it depends whether your priorities lie: taste buds or Instagram likes.
For a coffee or ice cream we've always found the small indy cafe at Avenida Nuestra Senora Del Carmen 13 hits the spot. Its name changes every time we visit (from Mas Que Bakery back in 2012 to New Bakery Cafe in 2023), but the friendly service, decent food and drink, and potential for people-watching from the pavement tables outside remain unwavering, while the teapot lampshades and cabinet of baked goods make for a homely atmosphere. Tip: try the blueberry ice cream.
Black & White Pizzeria in Las Palmeras shopping centre is great for a quick lunch bites, out of the sun and away from the crowds. Located down in the open-air basement, it serves pizzas, panini and other snacks, and while the food is great, Charlie the comedically attentive waiter makes the experience memorable.
The legendary Waikiki beach bar functions as a snack bar and restaurant during the day, cocktail bar at sunset, and lively spot into the night — smack dab on Corralejo's gorgeous sands.
Where to stay in Corralejo
Corralejo is a package holiday favourite, so there are plenty of lively, family-friendly and all-inclusive resorts to choose from, both in the centre and on the outskirts of town.
If you want to be in the centre of the action, the Barcelo hotel brand is always a good bet for reliable service (and excellent food!) without too hefty a price tag. Corralejo is blessed with two such venues, both 4*; Corralejo Barcelo Bay is an adults-only with two outdoor pools, a spa pool and beach views from some rooms. Nearby Barcelo Corralejo Sands has a gigantic pool, with a smaller one for toddlers.
For something a bit more tranquil, check out the Hotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort, located out in the sand dunes, slapbang on one of the pristine beaches that Fuerteventura is known for, its only neighbour a small beach club restaurant, and the equally remote Hotel Riu Palace Tres Islas. It's only an eight minute drive from the centre of town, and rumour has it that taxis are always fairly easy to come by in the taxi rank right outside... though that's not something we can vouch for, as we arrived for our stay in March 2020, just two days before Spain went into lockdown. (Got to know the hotel's semi-domesticated, free-roaming goats quite well, though.)
Shopping in Corralejo
The main thoroughfare into and through Corralejo, Avenida Nuestra Senora Del Carmen, is lined with shops, bars and restaurants. Generally, the area further north, and particularly the back streets around the harbour, are home to more independent shops, while international chains sit at the southern end. Jewellery and perfume shops in particular are easy to come by, and you'll see a lot of aloe vera products for sale, as the plant is native to the Canaries, and is said to be very good quality when grown here, due to the volcanic soil. One such shop in Corralejo even has an aloe vera vending machine outside, allowing sunburnt tourists to stock up on relief even when the shop is closed.
Komodo — located opposite the entrance to La Menara shopping centre — is one of our favourite indy shops in Fuerteventura, a rather feminine boutique selling unique gifts, homewares and clothes.
Centro Comercial Las Palmeras is the main shopping centre, a sleek and modern open air mall, home to recognisable brands such as Stradivarius, Skechers and Springfield. Top tip: the centre is also home to free public toilets, on both the top floor and basement. It's flanked by a branch of Fund Grube, a cosmetics and accessories department store found only in the Canary Islands.
Something not always discovered by tourists is the Villa Commercial El Campanario ('bell tower') shopping centre, found about 10 minutes walk from the main town centre. It's not something you'd really stumble across unless you were staying in this area, but it's worth hunting out. It's a pastel-hued enclave, home to about 20 shops and bars, laid out around a traditional-style Spanish courtyard, with a fountain in the centre. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday are market days.
But rven if you're not interested in retail therapy, head straight up the bell tower (free, unmanned entry, 10am-8pm daily). Climb the stairs to the viewing platform at the top to be rewarded with Corralejo's best views. To the north and north-east, you're faced with the glittering turquoise seas, the white wave breaks that make it so popular for surfing clearly visible from up here, rolling out towards the neighbouring island of Los Lobos (details below), and on a clear day, Lanzarote can be seen too.
The rooftops of Corralejo are spread out below you. In the opposite direction, Fuerteventura's largely unspoilt volcanic landscape dominates, flanked by Corralejo's unquenchable urban sprawl. And in the final direction, the white sand dunes, and the remote Riu hotels mentioned above, like two cruise ships on the horizon.
Word of warning: if you happen to be up there when the bells toll (32 of them in total, varying sizes), they ring so loudly that it feels like an out-of-body experience, and it reverberates through your soul for days to come. Unfortunately the bell tower isn't wheelchair accessible, but for anyone who can't manage the five-storey staircase, there is a live webcam of the view out to Los Lobos, operating 24 hours a day.
Elsewhere in Fuerteventura... and beyond
Corralejo is an excellent base for exploring other the Canary Islands, but let's start with the rest of Fuerteventura.
Puerto del Rosario is a larger town, about 30km south of Corralejo. Though still coastal, it's more industrial than Fuerteventura, with a larger port, so Corralejo trumps it for lovely beaches. But Puerto del Rosario has plenty in the way of things to do, and places to eat and drink. It also has a large bus station, ideal for finding your way to other parts of the island.
If you do have access to a car, Fuerteventura has a couple of interesting but little-known museums, away from the main towns. El Museum del Queso Majorero is a cheese museum, focusing on the Majorero goats' cheese the island produces, as well as its volcanic heritage. You'll find it close to the village of Antigua, which is also home to a windmill, craft shop and cactus garden. If you ask us, Fuerteventura doesn't make enough of a deal about its cheese (CHEESE, for goodness sake), but you can stock up on it at La Casa Del Queso Cabrera Perez and Sabores Canarios, Queseria.
El Museo de Las Salinas del Carmen celebrates Fuerteventura's only salt flats which are still in use today.
From almost anywhere along Corralejo's coastline, another land mass is visible. Often mistaken for Lanzarote, it's actually the much closer (and largely uninhabited) island of Los Lobos. It's only a couple of kilometres from Fuerteventura and is easy to get to — head along to Corralejo harbour and excursion agents are tripping over themselves to sell return boat tickets to tourists looking to head somewhere a bit more tranquil for a few hours (journey time is about 20 minutes).
The Water Taxi is just one such service, though whoever you book with, check whether a permit to visit Los Lobos is included, as you'll need one to set foot on the island — it's a highly protected natural area, with visitor numbers and durations limited and strictly monitored. Once you're there, you can hike, cycle (bring bikes with you as you can't hire them there), sunbathe and swim, or visit the island's lighthouse.
Corralejo also has regular ferry services over to Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, easily visited in a day trip (journey time around 35 minutes). Puerto del Rosario has ferries to Arrecife in Lanzarote, as well as Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz in Tenerife. The port of Morro Jable, at the opposite end of Fuerteventura, also offers ferries to both Tenerife and Las Palmas, making Fuerteventura an easy stop in a Canary Island-hopping holiday.
All images © Londonist.