Usually people come to Fuerteventura looking for warm weather and white-sand beaches. And by all means, if that’s what you are looking for, you have picked the right place! But what a lot of people don’t know, is that there is actually a lot more than that in this island. There is a whole side that most tourists don’t get to see.
The island has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, and it is still changing. Every single time that I go home something has changed somewhere (and I do go home relatively regularly). I literally cannot keep up! The island’s main industry is tourism, and since the numbers of tourists visiting has skyrocketed over the last 10 – 20 years, thus the changes. Tourists do however tend to stick to a couple of seaside towns, which are the ones that are under constant change. That’s why most of these seaside towns are extremely catered towards tourists. You will find that some of the people working in shops might not even speak proper Spanish! Just to give you an idea… And although these places are beautiful and definitely worth visiting, if you want to get a real feel for the island, you need to go looking somewhere else.
In the south of the island, you will find two of my favorites: Las Playitas and Gran Tarajal.
Las Playitas is technically not completely unspoiled, as it has changed significantly in the last 10 years (big hotel and golf camp), but the old town remains the same and mostly tourist free.
You won’t find any particular attractions here. But precisely in that lies the appeal of this place. It is just a really quiet and small seaside town, with a tiny pier (where you will find the local kids jumping off at weekends) and fresh fish. Some of the improvements that have taken place over the last couple of years include the extension of the promenade. I’d say as far as a year ago, the old town, which you can see in the picture above, was completely disconnected from the beach. You would have needed a car to drive from there to the beach. As of now, and this was my first time seeing it, the promenade goes all the way from the small pier to the beach, making for a really enjoyable after lunch walk.
When it comes to eating, you can get some really good fresh fish in any of the restaurants, although there is only a couple of them. My personal favorite, and the one I have eaten in since as far as I can remember is El Poril. It is a family-run restaurant with a real home made food feel to it. And don’t let the exterior fool you, the inside is really nicely decorated and really spacious. They serve all the traditional local dishes as well as some delicious desserts made fresh every day. Although one word of advice (and this applies to all restaurants in the islands): when you order fish, you will be served a full fish or half a fish with skin, bones and everything that comes with it. If you would like just boneless pieces of fish, you need to specifically ask for fillets (or ‘filetes de pescado’ in Spanish).Also, did I mention that they make the best alioli in the island? I’ll say no more.
Las Playitas and Gran Tarajal are right next to each other. In fact, all that separates their respective beaches is a mountain, or la Punta del Camellito as we call it. There are trails that will allow you to hike it. There is also a cycling lane (about 5 km) that runs along the road, if you are more of a bycicle person. Although whatever you do, please take into account that temperatures are usually quite high (even in the winter months) and there is absolutely nothing between the two towns.
Gran Tarajal is very similar to Las Playitas, except bigger. It also has an actual harbour which makes for an ideal evening stroll and some beautiful sunsets. Although personally, I much prefer Las Playitas for actual dinner and Gran Tarajal for coffee and dessert, you can definitely also get good food in Gran Tarajal. There is a restaurant at the harbor, La Cofradia, which serves really good fresh fish. Much like the aforementioned El Poril, don’t be fooled by its exterior. It is part of a warehouse right at the entrance of the harbor and doesn’t look all too appealing. That’s because it is not trying to lure in the tourists – the locals already know its good and don’t care for its exterior. A personal favorite of mine, not for food but for the ice cream is Pomodoro. This italian pizza restaurant is located on the promenade and has some amazing ice creams and a terrace overlooking the beach.