To get away from the big tourist cities, but still with beautiful beaches, we recommend a visit to El Cotillo. Located on the north-west coast, this small town offers a quieter atmosphere with many points of interest: beaches, lagoons, fort, lighthouse…
Here’s our guide to the best things to do in El Cotillo, whether you want to spend the day or stay overnight.
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1. Best things to do in El Cotillo: stroll through the town center
El Cotillo is a small town on the north-west coast of Fuerteventura.
The area is best known for its beaches and lagoons, which we list below.
But we also found that the center had a lot of charm and deserved a little visit before rushing to the water.
Strangely enough, although the beaches around the village have fine sand, the beach in the heart of El Cotillo (Playa del Muelitto) is made of grey pebbles…
It’s a place to discover on day trips, or to stay in.
If you choose to stay in Fuerteventura, be aware that the choice is more limited and that you won’t find any large resort hotels (see our guide to where to stay in Fuerteventura). There are mainly rentals and aparthotels.
- Aparthotel: LACAS Apartments Cotillo
See photos, prices and availability
- Store: Apartamentos Juan Benítez
See photos, prices and availability
- And lots of apartments…See top rated accommodations in El Cotillo
2. Enjoy the most beautiful beach in El Cotillo: Playa de la Concha
El Cotillo’s first attraction is one of its northern beaches: Playa de La Concha. This is one of Fuerteventura’s best-known beaches.
It’s one of the beaches furthest from any building. We like its slightly wilder side, with shallow emerald waters.
Most of the time, the waters here are calm without large waves, thanks to the rocky reefs. It also offers great snorkeling opportunities.
Access is via a tarmac road and there is ample parking along the road.
- Very fine white sand
- Supervised beach
- Toilets and shower at the end of the beach
- Sun loungers for hire
- The beach faces south-west, ideal for sunsets
- Range in length and width
- No grey areas
OUR TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN Fuerteventura
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- A small car is all you need.
- But you can also choose a larger one if you wish, as the parking spaces are rather large.
- There’s a lot of demand and it’s an island, so book early.
5. Playa de Marfolin / El Cotillo Beach
Closer to the town center, you’ll find another sandy beach with crystal-clear water in the El Cotillo lagoon.
We find the cove very pretty, with black rocks on either side.
You can reach it from downtown.
We didn’t see any facilities or surveillance on this side of the beach.
7. Visit El Cotillo lighthouse (Faro del Toston)
If you’re travelling by car, we strongly recommend heading for the lighthouse, north of El Cotillo.
This cylindrical tower was built at the end of the 19th century. It stands proudly in the north of the island, guiding boats to Corralejo.
It’s 33m high and at its foot is a small museum, which isn’t always open…
But we recommend a visit anyway, to learn more about the surrounding rock.
Indeed, the environment around the lighthouse is an important place for paleontologists. A short tour takes you to 5 panels explaining the area.
You’ll also see a more or less white area of sandstone where many fossilized living creatures can be found to trace the island’s history.
6. Cooling off in the lagoons of El Cotillo: playa de los Charcos
The other reason to visit the lighthouse is that you can find Playa de Los Charcos right next door.
Here the beach is wild, with only the lighthouse visible.
The rocks form giant pools with a watery bottom.
It’s an ideal place to walk with your feet in the water or play with children. To be visited at low tide.
See our list of the most beautiful natural pools in Fuerteventura.
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8. Castillo El Toston and its view
To the south of the town, another must-see is the fortified tower known as Castillo El Toston.
Fuerteventura’s first fortifications date back to the 15th century.
Jean de Bétancourt built it in the early years of colonization to protect the port from pirate attacks. The present tower was built on the ruins of an earlier structure in the early 18th century.
The tower is built of stone from a nearby quarry. It is circular and equipped with a drawbridge. It could house 12 men.
It is no longer open to visitors. But as this tower is located on a strategic promontory, we still recommend a visit to see it from the outside, and also to enjoy the view of Fuerteventura’s north-west coast.
9. Playa del Castillo
To the north of the tower lies El Cotillo’s largest beach: Playa del Castillo, also known as Playa Piedra.
We recommend a visit at low tide.
If you’ve had enough of the quiet lagoons north of town, come and have some fun in the waves here.
10. Senda de los Cetáceos
Next to the fortified tower, you’ll also see the skeleton of a whale.
You’ll find many of them around the island, recovering animals that have died on beaches or near the coast.
It’s that of a Cuvier’s beaked whale, which can swim at depths of up to 3,000 m for more than two hours. The only one of its kind, it measures almost 6m in length. A very impressive animal!
It was installed in 2015.
11. Lime kilns
And on the path between the tower and the town, note the 2 lime kilns. They’re not the most impressive on the island (we like the ones in Puerto del Rosario). But if you’re not familiar with it, take a look.
Puerto del Tosto was a long-standing trading port with the other Canary Islands and Europe. In the first half of the 19th century, several lime kilns were built around the small port to produce quicklime for export.
El Cotillo, especially Playa del Castillo, is one of the island’s best-known surf spots. The swell from the Atlantic Ocean is captured here.
In summer, the spot is ideal for beginners who want to discover the pleasures of snowboarding.
And in winter, the waves are powerful, with tube sections ideal for experienced surfers.
13. Admire the sunset
Many of the places to stay in Fuerteventura are on the east coast, so not ideal for sunsets.
IF you’re looking for a romantic evening, El Cotillo faces west, so you can enjoy the beautiful colors as the sun disappears over the horizon.
14 + 15: What to do around El Cotillo
14. Mill: Molino de El Roque
Whatever the time of year, Fuerteventura is a windy island. Over the centuries, local people have harnessed the power of the wind by building windmills. You’ll find quite a few if you explore the island, in varying degrees of condition.
One of the best restored is the Molino del Roque. It’s less than a 10-minute drive from the center of El Cotillo. It’s just a little detour. It’s privately owned, but you can admire it from the road.
If you want to visit a museum, go to the Museo de los Molinos or the Museo del Quezo Majorero, both in the heart of the island.
15. Barranco del Encantado
We love rock formations, especially naturally created slot canyons.
Here the fossilized dunes have been sculpted, and it’s wonderful to explore. Here, however, the dunes have not been sculpted by water (as it rarely rains) but by wind and other phenomena.
The name means lovers’ ravine or enchanted ravine.
- Location: between El Cotillo and La Oliva, in the middle of nowhere
- Corralejo to Barranco Encantado parking lot = 30min drive
- Morro Jable to Barranco Encantado parking lot = 1h30 drive
- Access from the north requires a 4×4. The first part of the road to the south, although unpaved, is passable in a normal car, and then you have to walk.
- You can also organize a private 4×4 tour and ask to go there.
- the south parking lot is at 28.629754, -14.005078. Don’t go any further if you don’t have a 4×4 as it’s sandy.
Visiting El Cotillo: practical tips + map
Where to find El Cotillo
Here is a map to help you find your way:
- Easy access to the town of El Cotillo by tarmac road all the way
- El Cotillo airport = 40min drive
- Corralejo to El Cotillo = 25min drive
- Caleta de Fuste to El Cotillo = 45min
- Morro Jable to El Cotillo = 1h35
Getting around El Cotillo
In the center, it’s easy to get around on foot. However, if you want to go to the northern lagoons or explore further afield, we recommend renting a car!
Where to eat
Most restaurants are located around Playa del Muellito, in the heart of the town.
Around the beach, we recommend Pez Gordo if you like good fish.
And if you’re looking for light dishes with lots of taste, we recommend the vegan restaurant Happy Cactus near Marfolin beach. Their smoothies are also excellent.