Tag Archives: Atlantic Ocean

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Cofete Beach, Fuerteventura

Cofete Beach Fuerteventura

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!

Cofete Beach

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.

Fueteventura

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Detail

Shell on a Beach:

Just south of Santa Clara was the beach of Azuraia where we parked the car and walked over the golden sand that had been washed clean by the high tide and went down to the waters edge.  There was a good clear view back to Vila do Conde and the fort that we hadn’t had time to visit. The beach was deserted and instead of people we were outnumbered by the seagulls that stood at the edge of the water but paid little attention to us as we walked along the sand.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Dreaming about Spending a day on the Beach:

Just south of Santa Clara was the beach of Azuraia where we parked the car and walked over the golden sand that had been washed clean by the high tide and went down to the waters edge.  There was a good clear view back to Vila do Conde and the fort that we hadn’t had time to visit. The beach was deserted and instead of people we were outnumbered by the seagulls that stood at the edge of the water but paid little attention to us as we walked along the sand.

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Portugal, January Beaches

Now that we were back in real time and had adjusted ourselves accordingly we went down for breakfast today at a more reasonable hour and having given the place time to warm up this morning it was a much more pleasurable experience.  Actually it was warmer anyway because there was no frost today and although the sky was blue again it felt as though the weather was going to change.  When we checked out the man on the reception said that he was glad about that but he still complained that the weather was colder than normal.

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Cofete Beach

Cofete Beach

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 beach is not really suitable for safe bathing and the advice is that you shouldn’t swim here unless you are Sharon Davis or Duncan Goodhew because of the high waves and the strong current.

Read the full story…

 

Blue Flag Beaches

Cofete Beach Fuerteventura Canary Islands

The Blue Flag beach award was originally conceived in France in 1985 where the first coastal municipalities were awarded the Blue Flag on the basis of criteria covering standards relating to sewage treatment and bathing water quality.

Two years later, 1987 was the ‘European Year of the Environment’ and the concept of the Blue Flag was developed as a European initiative by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe to include other areas of environmental management, such as waste disposal and coastal planning and protection and in that first year two hundred and forty four beaches from ten countries were awarded the new Blue Flag status.  Twenty-two years later in 2009 when the updated list was published in June there were two thousand seven hundred and ten (up by ninety-eight from 2008).

Thirty-eight countries are currently participating in the Blue Flag Programme: Bahamas, Belgium-Flanders, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and Wales,

Spain has more blue flag beaches than any other participating country with four hundred and ninety-three along almost five thousand kilometres of coastline.  Andalusia has the most kilometres of blue flag beach but in absolute terms, Galicia is the community with more blue flags (124), followed by Catalonia (108), Valencian Community (101), the Balearics (85), Andalusia (83), the Canary Islands (35), Murcia (16), Asturias (12), Basque Country (3) and Ceuta and Melilla (2 each).

The United Kingdom by comparison, has only one hundred and seven in nearly twelve thousand five hundred kilometres.  Sadly this is thirty-seven beaches down on the previous year, which means we must be getting dirtier. Greece has the second most blue flags at four hundred and twenty-five  (down five) and the most in the Mediterranean Sea.  Even though France increased its successful beaches from two hundred and thirty-eight to two hundred and sixty-three it has been replaced in third spot by Turkey, which has increased by fifty-one to two hundred and eighty-six. Portugal completes the top five list with two hundred and twenty five beaches.

What is interesting however is to put this into context by relating success in terms of numbers to the total length of coastline because that reveals that Slovenia has a blue flag beach every six kilometres, Portugal every eight and Spain every ten.  In the United Kingdom you have to travel one hundred and sixteen kilometres between each blue flag beach and that puts us twenty fifth out of the top twenty-five.  That is even worse than our annual performance in the Eurovision song contest!  Mind you would have to travel a lot further in Norway because it has only three blue flag beaches in eighty-three thousand kilometres of coast (including all the fjords of course).

Blue-flag-beaches 2010 update

jurmala blue flag

To be honest I am not really a beach person, I get quickly bored and I think that sand is completely incompatible with the intimate nooks and crannies of the human body but one blue flag beach that I have visited and enjoyed is Jurmala in Latvia (in the picture above receiving its blue flag in 2007).

The first time that I saw Jurmala was in June 2006 and it was a real eye opener because this was a very high quality beach with miles of scrupulously clean sand, three blue flags and a clear Baltic Sea stretching out over the Gulf of Riga towards Sweden over the horizon.  I had expected the sea to be grey and forbidding like the North Sea of my childhood holidays but instead it was a serene denim blue and looked genuinely inviting.  There were a few holidaymakers on the beach but not many in the sea because I suspect that looks were deceptive and that the Baltic remains fairly inhospitable for most of the year.

Under the Communist regime up until 1991 this was a popular destination for high-level Communist Party officials and it was a favourite destination of Russian Presidents Brezhnev and Khrushchev.  I cannot help finding it ironic that Blue Flags should be awarded to a Red Army beach.

Some nice beaches that I recommend:

Ambleteuse, France

Mwnt Beach, South Wales

Galicia Blue Flag Beaches

Cofete Beach

Albufiera

Portimão, Carvoeiro, Praia Vale de Centianes and Silves

Kefalonia, Fiskardo and Assos

Kefalonia, Villages and Beaches

Kefalonia, Lassi and Hotel Mediterranee

Benidorm 1977- Beaches, the Old Town and Peacock Island

Greece 2009 – Ios, Beaches and Naturists

Serifos Psili-Ammos

Cephalonia beach