The resort in the Canaries that Spanish tourists love

Corralejo Viejo beach is a perfect place to relax in the sun
Corralejo Viejo beach is a popular spot for sunbathing throughout the year - Alamy

“Corralejo isn’t a resort, more like an island for the world,” extolled Isabella, the owner of Vrebac, one of this Canarian town’s quartet of Italian-run artisan gelaterias. As I decompressed in the warm winter sun with a scoop of her Sicilian pistachio, I watched as an elegant suited woman sauntered by, surfboard under arm, nodding to a man on a bike with a fishing rod in tow.

Around us, a British theme bar lay empty while a hole-in-the-wall sushi joint buzzed with life. It was a typical day in Corralejo, the Canarian resort that’s quietly catering to people who don’t really like resorts – and drawing visitors from across the world in the process.

Corralejo is home to several sculptures along its coast
Corralejo's town beach is a popular spot come sunset - Alamy

I’ve spent years exploring the Canary Islands, largely trying to escape the high-rise resorts that blight Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Still, I’ve only recently found Corralejo: a breath of fresh salt-scented Atlantic air on Fuerteventura. It was love at first sight. Corralejo’s charms are instant and intoxicating.

Fringed by cobalt ocean north and east, empty desert malpais (badlands) drift off westwards from the town and a massive sand dune-kissed natural park unfurls to the south. This corner of Fuerteventura is sketched out in natural drama and bold colours. Not many colours, mind: soaring blue skies and ocean, binary against whitewashed low-rise buildings that mirror swaths of brilliant white beach.

I snaked around the necklace of sandy strips hugging the fishermen’s cottages of Corralejo’s old town and headed into the Mojito Beach Bar, where I met Iris. A native of Marseille, she served me a glass of the bone-dry Malvasía Volcánica wine that Fuerteventura has just started producing, along with a platter of local hams and delicious Fuerteventura majorero goat’s cheese.

The pretty harbour is a calm spot amid the wilder waters of the surrounding Atlantic
The pretty harbour is a calm spot amid the wilder waters of the surrounding Atlantic - Alamy

Casting her arm over our view of the bay, she summed up Corralejo’s natural appeal. “I enjoyed living by the Mediterranean, but why would you settle for the Mediterranean when you can have the big skies and wild waters of the Atlantic?” she asked.

Other Canary Islands have grown a little tired of tourism. In Tenerife, a recent kickback has seen the British become a target in an ongoing “tourists go home” campaign. Not on Fuerteventura.

Tour guide Iván says Corralejo is only too happy to welcome tourists
Tour guide Iván says Corralejo is only too happy to welcome tourists

This island of precious little water, let alone bankable natural resources, sees its visitors as an escape from the edge of poverty. My tour guide, Iván, who is Corralejo born and bred, told me: “We’ve been able to renovate a lot of the old buildings, build proper roads and upgrade all the facilities. Everyone here welcomes tourists.”

Iván’s words weren’t a selfish call for more business. In Corralejo, the positivity is both genuine and infectious, shared by residents and visitors of myriad nationalities. I met people from every corner of Europe, ticked off most South American countries and even encountered tourists from mainland Spain (a rarity in Tenerife these days).

Elena from Madrid was visiting Corralejo for the second time with her cousin. “I wanted to show her that there are resorts in Spain that are for everyone and don’t feel like the awful ones she normally hears about,” she told me.

The area is excellent for seafood connoisseurs
The area is paradise for seafood connoisseurs

Even the oldest of rivalries are put aside in the international atmosphere of Corralejo – An Caisteal Scottish bar cosies right next to an English bar, with flags of both nations blowing together in the perpetual Atlantic breeze. Meanwhile, the ultimate melting pot is known locally as “Music Square”.

Plaza Félix Estévez lounges soporifically by day but bursts into life when the sun burns down into the Atlantic. Every night of the year, a band takes to its little stage: I took a ringside seat at the square’s cocktail bar and waited for the action.

Early on, the music was merely a background to eating and chatting, but, as ron miel (Canarian rum) and Tropical (the crisp local beer) eased inhibitions and stimulated muscle memory, the square filled with an international cast of dancers and hedonists. Sing-alongs were started, as were new friendships. It was quintessentially Corralejo.

The town is a wonderful place to relax in the evening
The town is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, with a swathe of fresh eateries popping up - getty

The town is getting increasingly cosmopolitan. Since my last visit, in February 2023, a dozen new businesses seem to have opened, all independently run with the chains seemingly in stasis. Giorgia and her boyfriend set up the low-key Buena Suerte last summer and it’s one of a new wave of esoteric eateries.

“We couldn’t afford to set up a restaurant serving quality food and wine back in Milan,” she said as she dished up sizzling garlic prawns and seafood spaghetti. “After Covid, we wanted a fresh start, and Corralejo has given us that. It’s such a relaxed place that doesn’t really feel like a resort.”

The seafood can be exceptional in town, but it’s even better 20 minutes’ drive away on the west coast at the fishing village of El Cotillo. That’s the beauty of Corralejo’s location in the wildscapes of northern Fuerteventura, where lesser-visited sites abound. It’s another quick drive to superb sweet treats and spot-on coffee at the swath of surf bakeries in Lajares (even better, hike there over the volcanoes on the waymarked trails and catch a taxi back).

The Parque Natural de Corralejo is home to some 6,500 acres of beautiful sand dunes
The Parque Natural de Corralejo is home to some 6,500 acres of beautiful sand dunes - Alamy

Then there’s the Parque Natural de Corralejo to the south of town. With its 6,500 acres of sand dunes slipping towards a dramatic dalliance with the Atlantic, it’s the nearest most people will ever get to the sands of the Sahara.

In fact, the Sahara is less than 60 miles from here; Madrid lies a comparative world away, more than 900 miles in the distance. Offshore, the small uninhabited island of Lobos tempts, too, just minutes from Corralejo by boat. Lobos makes Corralejo look like Manhattan.

While flitting about on boats is a joy around Corralejo, the novelty inflatables you might find elsewhere in the Canaries are a no-no given the trade winds. And I’ve never seen a floundering pedalo thrashing around either.

The beautiful landscape of the Natural Park
The landscape of the Corralejo Natural Park, which sits immediately outside of the town - getty

In their place are world-class water sports. Surfers are joined by windsurfers and a small army of kiteboarders. There are scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, too, plus the emerging craze of e-foil, a watercraft that combines surfing, hydrofoiling and electric propulsion. A flotilla of small businesses and schools gives a typically warm Corralejo welcome to novices, so it’s easy to learn the ropes.

For all Corralejo’s plus points, its number-one attraction lies out of town, if TikTok and Instagram are to be believed. Playa el Hierro, or “Popcorn Beach”, is so nicknamed for its popcorn-doppelganger rhodoliths (a form of calcareous alga), and when Iván and I approached it, I spotted a flurry of tourists jostling to take selfies on the sand.

Iván sighed. “I don’t like this kind of tourism,” he said. “We’ve got another dozen beaches just like this one where you’ve got the same ‘popcorn’ and there is no one else there. Everyone coming here fighting for space and the best spot in a herd is not very Corralejo.” Then again, Corralejo is not like any other Canarian resort.


EasyJet flies direct to Fuerteventura from six UK airports with returns starting from £113. Barceló has two hotels in Corralejo, including the adults-only Barceló Corralejo Bay (020 3727 0251), which has doubles from £126.