Tag Archives: Fuerteventura

Spanish Islands, Postcards from Fuerteventura

Fuertuventura Postcard 1Fuertuventura Postcard Traditional DancersFuertuventura Postcard 02

Spanish Islands, Fuerteventura and Cofete Beach

Fuertuventura Postcard 02

I can date quite accurately the time when I began to question the content and value of my annual holidays, it was in the early 2000s, my young family were growing up and leaving home and there was no longer a need for an annual visit to a beach resort for sun, sand and sea.

One of my last holidays of this kind was to the Spanish Canary Island of Fuerteventura and I wouldn’t really consider boring you with the details of long days spent by the pool at the Fuerteventura Princess Hotel near the resort town of Jandia or lying around on the sand on the twenty-five long kilometre beach and enjoying the freedom of naturist sunbathing except for the fact that Fuerteventura happens to have had possibly the best beach that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting – Cofete.

Cofete is a small village in the south-western part of the Jandia peninsula on the island and nearby it has a sandy windswept Atlantic facing beach that is about five kilometers long and 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 the man from Atlantis or Aquaman 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 Fuerteventura

There is something curiously mysterious about it, deserted, solitary, lonely and brooding away in the background are the eight-hundred metre high wilderness mountains of Jandia. The spine of these barren peaks seem to separate the beach from the inhabited holiday side half of the island with the 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 (it is prohibited to take a regular hire car there) 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 wooden shacks built from driftwood and materials washed up by the waves and most are only lived in by ageing hippies 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 grime from the journey.

Fuertuventura Postcard 1

On a second day we drove north but stayed on the eastern coast of the island and visited the busy tourist beach of Corralajo where previous sunbathers had built black volcanic stone shelters to keep out the wind and where people stretched out naked on the caramel sand inside.  It didn’t compare to Cofete of course so we didn’t stay very long but made a driving tour of the coastline starting at Lajares at the very north where the waves of the Atlantic crash over the rocks and where two windmills are the only real tourist attraction before taking a meandering route down the coast stopping every now and again in a desperate but ultimately futile attempt to discover something interesting.

Except for Cofete I found Fuertuventura to be instantly forgettable.  It is the second largest of the Canary Islands after Tenerife and there are simply miles and miles of absolutely bugger all!  Good for that relaxing beach side holiday but absolutely hopeless for someone with itchy feet like me!

Cofete Beach Fortuventura Canary Islands Spain

More Postcard Maps – Spanish Islands

Lanzarote island map postcard

Fuertuventura Postcard 02

Gran Canaria Island Map postcard

Tenerife Island Map Postcard

Ibiza Island Mapp Postcard

Minorca Island Map Postcard

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

My Personal A to Z of Spain, I is for Islands

With an area of just over five hundred thousand square kilometers Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France and with an average altitude of six hundred and fifty metres it is second highest country in Europe after Switzerland. It also has two groups of interesting islands, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.

I have visited several of the islands but each occasion was prior to 2009 when my current ‘Search for real Spain’ began.  As a consequence these were generally beach or family holidays and I doubtless failed to investigate the islands adequately in groundhog days squandered in meaningless sunbathing and superficial trips around the coastal villages and towns.

In December 1983 I visited the island of Lanzarote and except for a jeep drive into the interior this trip was mostly about hanging around in bars and drinking lots of beer so I missed a visit to the capital Arrecife except for a drive through the middle without stopping on the way to somewhere else.

Two years later I went to Gran Canaria.  The first time was in May when I had a one year old daughter to entertain so a fortnights holiday was spent mostly around the swimming pool and walking backwards and forwards to the beach although we did hire a car for a couple of days and did some driving around the interior.  I got a puncture one day high up in the mountains and that put me off driving much more on the holiday.  Later that year in November I went back with my brother and stayed in the resort of Playa del Ingles and this again wasn’t a particularly educational visit I have to confess!

Tenerife Island Map Postcard

In 1989 I went to Tenerife but by now I had two small children to keep amused so again there was a lot of swimming pool and sun-bed time and not a lot of opportunity for serious sightseeing although one day I got to go out by myself and took a coach trip to Mount Teide, went to the top and was presented with a certificate for having risked the rather shaky cable car ride to the summit.

My last visit to the Canary Islands was in 2002 to the large island of Fuerteventura where, to be honest, there isn’t a great deal to see anyway but it was here that I discovered what, in my opinion, is probably the best beach in the World at the remote hippy commune of Cofete.

Fuertuventura Postcard 02

I have also visited Minorca and Ibiza in the Balearic Islands but so far not Majorca.  I holidayed in Minorca in 1987 and 1989.  On the first occasion we visited the historic town of Ciudadela on the west coast and the lively port of Mahon on the east.  Ciudadela was the previous capital and Mahon enjoys that status today and, by certain measures, claims to be the second deepest natural harbour in the World after Sydney in Australia.  With the children getting older but not having developed an interest in anything historical, geographical or philosophical the return visit two years later was mostly about beaches and ice cream!

Squeezed in between these two holidays to Minorca was a week in Ibiza in 1988 and this was a similar Mediterranean holiday experience except on this occasion we had no money because we were going through a bit of a financial crisis for the whole two weeks because I forgot to take my credit card with me and getting money abroad was a lot more difficult twenty five years ago.

So whilst I can lay claim to having visited the islands I cannot claim that I have done them justice and so now, in my search for real Spain I just may have to put them on the itinerary for a return visit and perhaps it would be a good idea to go to the one that so far I haven’t been to – Majorca.

Blue Flag Beaches 2011

The Blue Flag Beach awards for 2011 were announced in May and the total number of successful beaches decreased overall by sixty, which means that either the criteria is getting tougher or the coastline is getting dirtier – I hope it is the former.

Each year, national Blue Flag juries assess all Blue Flag candidates to ensure they meet all of the criteria for beaches and marinas at the national and international level. In England this preliminary assessment is carried out by ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ and in the other UK countries by ‘Keep Wales Tidy, ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’ and ‘Tidy Northern Ireland‘. Those that do are then forwarded to the International Jury, who focus on set criteria that varies from year to year, before giving a final verdict.

Some might legitimately complain that it is an unfair competition because forty-five countries in the World are excluded from the awards simply because they have no coastline.  The largest country in the World without a coastline is Afghanistan but I don’t suppose they concern themselves greatly with the Blue Flag awards because no one would go on holiday there anyway!

In the United Kingdom the total reduced by six, which is 5% of the total following a 10% reduction in 2010, but the biggest losers were Greece, thirty-four, and Spain, eleven.  Because of Greece’s poor performance Spain stretched its lead at the top of the league table to one hundred and twenty-four beaches.  To compensate for the reductions Portugal increased by a whopping thirty beaches and France by fifteen.

In the United Kingdom it is nice to see my new local beach at Cleethorpes in North East Lincolnshire has retained its Blue Flag Status and although I don’t generally go on holiday to the coast in the United Kingdom, this year I went to Mwnt Beach in Ceredigion which I have to say was a delightful place with a thoroughly deserved blue flag.

Mwnt Beach Wales Cardigan

These slight movements have not however affected the top of the European leader board in any way and the top ten Blue Flag beaches in 2011 are:

Spain, Greece and France deserve to be proud of their achievement but if we look at the results in a different way then there are some dramatic changes in the top ten.  If we divide the number of blue flag beaches by the length of coastline then Portugal are rewarded for their special effort this year because they are way out in front with a Blue Flag beach every six and a half kilometres, pushing their Iberian neighbours into only third place.  Turkey, Italy and Denmark all drop down the list but stay in the top ten but Greece, Croatia and the United Kingdom (where there is only one blue flag for every one-hundred kilometres) drop out altogether to be replaced by the Netherlands who jump to second, Cyprus and Montenegro, which must be a bit of a kick in the teeth for Greece and Croatia.

My favourite beach remains Cofete Beach in Fuerteventura which isn’t Blue Flag but take it from me is quite magnificent and to compensate for no award it’s a place where pretty ladies get their kit off!

Blue Flag Beaches – Original Blog Post

Blue Flag Beaches 2010

More Beaches:

Ambleteuse, France

Galicia Blue Flag Beaches

Cofete Beach

Mwnt Beach, South Wales

Albufiera

Portimão, Carvoeiro, Praia Vale de Centianes and Silves

Portugal, Beaches and a Sunset

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

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.

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