Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vamos a la playa, Oh — ohoh ohoh! Playa de Cofete, Oh — ohoh ohoh!

Cofete! Finally :)

This weekend, 23—24 January, we came to Fuerteventura yet again. We used an excellent Bintazo offer by Binter Canarias*. And we came with a very specific aim in mind — to get to Cofete, a difficult-to-access beach on the windward side of the island. I saw it a couple of times before, but never visited the beach. Kirill never even saw it from the ground level.

Getting there takes some research. The road is quite bad, as you will see later. Soon after you pass the port of Morro Jable, the surfaced road changes to a dirt track, very winding and bumpy. Normal cars can go on it, and will reach the beach eventually, but you are not supposed to drive rental cars on dirt tracks. No one will stop you, but if anything goes wrong, you will pay through the nose. You can walk, but that will be heavy going. I estimate the distance between the car park (where the dirt track starts) and the beach to be about 8 km. Plus you have to go by Cofete pass, which is at about 300 meters above the sea level, so each way will feature 300 meters of both up and down. And there is no shade. Biking is possible, but also strenuous and quite dangerous.

Now that you are sufficiently scared, let me give you a solution to this conundrum.

Morro Jable, Playa del Matorral

Some time ago the Cabildo of Fuerteventura bought a 4by4 vehicle, which is sort of bus-y in shape. According to a once-over of the pages I looked at, it was bought off of Ridley Scott's film crew when they finished filming "Exodus" on Cofete. It looks somewhat toy-like in the pics. In reality it is quite large and tall. It seats 21 and makes two daily journeys from Morro Jable bus station to Cofete village, Cofete beach and then on to Faro de Jandia, coming back by the same route. If you decide to give it a go, check the current schedule (and existence of the line, lest something happens to the only vehicle they have). I took the current one from the Mi Pueblo Fuerteventura magazine. The tickets are €2.50 each way — a steal in comparison to Jeep excursions.

My precioussss... Surprisingly tall vehicle

The Morro Jable bus station is a bit away from the beach, in a new residential part of the town. Like the bus station in Puerto del Rosario, it is the size of a small airport. It was utterly empty when we first came to check where it was. When we came there again some time before 2 pm, we could hear the voices of other hopefuls waiting for the bus and we could see the bus itself. I must admit that up to that moment I was doubting that the plan would work, so remote and unreachable grew Cofete in my mind over those three years of not getting there.

View from the road pass

We started on time from the bus station, then picked up a group of Italians from the port, and they immediately started to talk excitedly across the bus and play musical chairs, budgie-fashion. (I love Italians, but they do rather remind me of those charming birds). Our driver counted us - there were 14 altogether. It immediately set me worrying, something along the lines of "what if the first bus was full and they all stayed at Cofete? We won't all fit on the way back!". Fortunately, it wasn't and we did**.

Pictured above is the type of road we went on (on the right). As you can see, on the Cofete side it is quite flat and well maintained for a dirt track - the majority of bumps are on the Morro Jable side of the road. But on the Cofete side it narrows to a single track in places, so be prepared to give way/back up, etc.

The driver was a charmer. On the way to Cofete he was not yet tired, and was periodically breaking into a song which titles this post. Just before we came to the pass and the amazing view, he gave us all a warning which went something along the lines of, "now everybody says AAAAHHHH!". And we sure did.

There is no stop at the pass, but he stopped anyway and offered to make snaps through his window, the only one which was open and openable.

Arwen's horses with rainbows in the manes

After a relatively short drive down the road from the pass, and going though "Cofete city", as our driver put it — basically a few shacks and a restaurant — we finally came to the sea level.

The beach is every bit as amazing as I expected. It is absolutely huge (wikipedia claims it is 35 km in length), wide, clean and almost completely empty of people. There was maybe 15 cars parked in the car park, plus us, plus maybe somebody came by foot — let's say we were a hundred people altogether. 3 persons per km, not bad. Plus, the majority stayed close to the car park, so once you walked a bit, there is virtually nobody.

But, as I heard before and our driver emphatically told us - no swimming! Bummer. It looked like there is a good reason for it, though. The waves are strong and fast, and once you are in the water, you can return more or less only by chance. I think surfers try their luck there; I hope their luck holds.

Arrival of our savior

We had about two hours on Cofete, which was plenty to catch some sun, but not long enough to walk even a small part of the beach. Walking on sand is difficult anyway; the wet sand of Cofete is quite squishy in places, making it even more difficult. Next time we go, it will be the earlier journey, so I can reach at least one of the two features of Cofete. There is a small peninsula, joined to the beach by a sandbank, called Islote de Cofete, north of the car park. Judging from the pictures I saw, bathing is safe(r) in the small bays on either side of the bank.

Southwards there is a sort of stone tooth sticking out of the water, called Roque del Moro. That creates a nice point of interest in the pictures.

So, although now I've been to Cofete, I still have some unfinished business on Fuertevetura :)

Happy happy me.

Text and pics by Tamara

Pictures of Fuerteventura on shutterstock — here.

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* Bintazo was a super-cheap ticket offer for flights within the archipelago. It doesn't look like there is a way to predict when, if ever, it will happen again. But if it will, I'll jump on it.

** I am not sure what will happen if there is not enough places on the return bus. From the attitude of the driver, he might even come back for you. But if not, I suggest trying to hitch a ride in the car park; failing that, walking just one way is not such a big deal. There are pointers in Cofete village, and the village itself is impossible to miss.

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