The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited and having completed that I thought I might come up with a personal alternative twelve.
Included in the winning list was a beach – La Concha in the Basque city of San Sebastián in Northern Spain. As I said before this surprised me because even though I am not really a beach person, I get quickly bored – in selecting a favourite beach in Spain this would not be it!
I have narrowed my personal favourites down to a top five – first, Benidorm with its wonderful three blue flag beaches, Mal Pas, Levante and Poniente, second the endless windswept sand dunes of Maspolomas on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria and then another island, Menorca in the Balearic Islands although I’m afraid that I can’t be specific. Second in my list would be the wide-open Atlantic beach at Corrubedu in Galicia but for my very favourite I am back to the Canary Islands and Cofete beach on Fuerteventura.
Cofete is a small village in the south-western part of the Jandia peninsula in Fuerteventura and nearby it has a sandy windswept Atlantic facing beach that is about five kilometers long so gloriously empty that every person on it gets about a thousand square metres of space all to themselves. The relentless surf pounds the beach and smashes the sand and the place is not really suitable for safe bathing and the advice is that you shouldn’t really swim here unless you are Sharon Davis or Mark Phelps because of the high waves and the strong current and the danger of being swept out to sea with nowhere to go but North America!
There is something curiously mysterious about it, deserted, solitary and lonely and brooding away in the background are the eight-hundred metre high wilderness mountains of Jandia that seem to separate it from the inhabited holiday side half of the island with its safer but busier tourist beaches. The weather is almost constantly breezy, the waves are always mountainous and the beach appears breathtakingly eerie but nevertheless beautiful. There are never many people on the beach because it is so inaccessible and there are no lifeguards to rely on in an emergency.
To get there it is necessary to drive over twenty kilometres of exhausting pot-holed track that in some places only allows for single file traffic. Some of the passing places have steep drops to the side, and the journey can only realistically be tackled in a jeep or four-wheel drive vehicle and believe me it is a really uncomfortable journey, but one worth making nevertheless. The route there goes through the very pretty Punta Pesebre, the Playa de los Ojos (Eyes beach), which is difficult to access, and the fishing port of Puerto de la Cruz before the lovely Playa de las Pilas.
At the end of the unmade road the little village of Cofete is a collection of shacks built from driftwood and materials washed up by the waves and most are only lived in at the weekend. At the end of the long ash choked track there is a simple but welcome bar where a cold beer cuts through the dust in the back of the throat and prepares you well before going to the sea to wash off the dirt from the journey.
In a separate poll the travel website TripAdvisor has compiled a list of the top ten beaches in Spain for 2013 and both the beach of La Concha in San Sebastián and Cofete beach on Fuerteventura are included although neither of them make the top spot. La Concha is third and Cofete makes sixth place. The winner in this poll was Playa de las Catedrales at Ribadeo in the Northern Province of Galicia.