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El Cotillo

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General details:

Situated up in the far NW, El Cotillo is a small town with a couple of bars & excellent, cheap restaurants. Although there has been - and will continue to be considerably more commercial development - the place still has a great character. Recent (2003) developments have included a new, small hotel right in the centre, a new block of apartments slightly N of the town, heading up towards the lagoons, a British supermarket (that - in itself - is enough to put me off!), a new, 2-storey hotel just outside the centre (under construction), loads of new houses being built in the centre, and plans for a golf course just outside of town.

El Cotillo can often be cloudy, especially in the mornings. In June 2001, it was also cool & windless!

Most of the windsurfing - and, increasingly, kitesurfing, is done off the main beach - to the S of the town.

The waves can be huge on a big day, and they get larger as the tide drops. They always close out in the same place - about 10 metres from the shore, due to a ledge in the sea bed there - so you need to know when to break away!

There is quite a Southbound current here - in the same direction as the wind, stronger than I can swim against, so it can be tricky at times staying upwind. There are a few rocks around, but they can be seen from the beach - the water is so clear, you'll be able to make them out & hopefully avoid them.

On big days, this place is monstrous. Also watch out for the shore dump. I broke a mast here in June 2001 - got caught by a piddly little wave in the break.

Be warned - some very good sailors sail here - they can make you feel totally inadequate!

Continuing N. of El Cotillo, there are a number of fabulous small sandy coves and lagoons; good for families but I wouldn't advise sailing there. Further N, near the lighthouse, the North coast track starts, going all the way to Corralejo. There are more fantastic lagoons a short way along this track & a windsurf school occasionally seems to use the first one of these for teaching. Be VERY wary about taking the standard issue Corsa, Saxo, Clio - type of rental cars along here. They aren't insured for these tracks & can easily get bogged down in the soft sand.

beach at el cotillo

Looking S over the main beach S of El Cotillo
Click picture for large image (25Kby)

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Directions to the right place:

Turn left off the main road onto a dirt track just as you enter the town, and follow this for about 1 km. This should bring you to the "cliffs" above the middle part of the beach. The "cliffs" are actually sandy, & can easily be scrambled down. It's probably about 7 or 8 metres high where most people park. Getting back up with your gear is a bummer when you're tired - pretty knackering. A slightly better location to park is just beyond where most other people park: the track down to the beach is firmer - thanks to a number of 4-wheel drives that go up & down there - so it's less hard work climbing back up.

The most popular launching spot is about 1/2 way down the main beach, just S of the rocks.

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How the winds work:

Normal (trade) wind is cross-shore from the right. I've never sailed here with anything smaller than 5.5m2 sails though I know others who have.

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Tidal conditions:

At low tide, the waves can be big; about 1 hr before high tide - VERY big!

It also a fairly steeply shelving beach at high water, so there's a significant shorebreak and backwash.

Once beyond the breakers - which are spaced about 50m apart - the sea is fairly benign.

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Large shorebreak around HW

Strong(ish) Southbound currents

A few rocks scattered around, some exposed at LW


Sand hot enough to burn your feet.

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Nothing on the beach. - Just sand. Take food and plenty of drinking water.

In the town...

Shops, restaurants, bars, small supermarkets...

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B&B's / campsites

Hotels being built.

A number of apartments available for rent. Flag Beach Windsurfing Centre in Corralejo can arrange these for you - probably at Los Lagos apartments (or arrange yourself directly with them on +34 928 17 53 88, Fax +34 928 85 20 99), just N of the town.

No official campsites, but there always seem to be a significant number of camper vans around here and - despite the ban on camping on the coast - a number of tents secreted away in various barrancos (dried flood ravines) and in other nooks and crannies on secluded beaches further S.

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Pubs and eateries

Cotillo has at least 2 excellent restaurants:

La Vaca Azul by the harbour. (El Verril seems to have closed down).

About 150m away, just off the road at the top of the small, pebbly beach by the harbour, is a fish restaurant. A request to see the menu is greeted with an invitation to view it's contents in the kitchen! There is no printed menu.

Anon contributor - Feb '07:
There is an excellent bar just up the road from La Vaca Azul called El Tostan where you will receive a very friendly welcome from the owners Alan and Gail they serve fantastic bar food and you will not get a better view of the harbour from their bar.

Several locals bars in the town. No specific recommendations.

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Content supplied by . Anon update, Feb '07 - thanks.

Note: All comments and opinions mentioned in this section of the site are the personal opinions of the various contributors. Inevitably, one person's favourite may be another person's least favourite.

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