Rather than miles of golden sand and dozens of beach front cafes and restaurants El Confital has rock pools, a wooden board walk and a world class wave. It's the city's chill-out spot where the locals go for picnics at sunset, surfing and a spot of nude sunbathing. There are currently no facilities at El Confital (known locally as El Confi) and local pressure keeps it that way.
El Confital used to very different: 20 years ago the area behind the beach and board walk was a shanty town complete with drug pushers, pimps and dodgy bars. That's all gone now and the whole area has been returned to nature. El Confital is protected and, despite the continued efforts of developers, will never be covered with hotels or concrete. We'd like to see a couple of low-impact chill out bars at El Confi but no development is better than too much.
People tend to cluster on the board walk and on the patches of sand closest to the path. Further along the sand disappears and the beach is officially nudist friendly. You can walk right around the headland and along the rocky headland until you get to a barbed wire fence. This marks the boundary of the Spanish military base on La Isleta. Other than a few shabby fisherman's huts the whole area is completely natural.
The El Confital wave, just off the rocks in front of the board walk, is world class with a fantastic barrel. A couple of times a year during November or December a surf city pops up on the board walk. Music blares and the mojitos flow as the world's best surfers compete for cash and glory.
While the El Confital shore is rocky swimming is safe, even if the sea is rough, thanks to a couple of inlets with deep, calm water. Even on big surf days you can always cool off in a rock pool!
Despite the lack of sand and seafood, El Confital has some serious advantages over Las Canteras. During the summer the panza de burro cloud (donkey's belly) sits over Las Canteras but often fades away over El Confital just a couple of kilometres to the north. For surfers its wave is much better than the busy La Cicer breaks at the south end of Las Canteras. You can also strip off completely (technically legal on Las Canteras but frowned upon by the bicycle police and the locals).
Getting to Confital
Walk as far north as you can along the beach front promenade behind Las Canteras. It goes past the big Cesar Manrique wind sculpture at La Puntilla and along the rocky shore in front of the La Isleta barrio. At the end there is a dirt track that carries on to El Confital. The first bit is shared with cars (there aren't many) and then a track with iron steps forks left. Follow this to go straight to the board walk. If you are driving then head into the maze of streets in La Isleta and aim north. You'll get lost and need to ask for directions.