The beach of El Confital, located in La Isleta, spreads its wide bay like a magician’s handkerchief, filled with mystery. Aside from a few small areas, its wild landscape has managed to resist the processes of urban change. The origin of the name “El Confital” lies in certain algae which gather and form balls called ‘confites’ by the locals.
Even though some people insist on going there on Sundays with their cars to organize barbecues, there are days when the sun rises on this place revealing an aura of mystery and wonder yet undiscovered. On days like this, as you approach the beach along the dirt track, you can see the hill behind it covered by an emerald-coloured moss, a jewel enticing you into the bay. El Confital is a world filled with sensations within the reach of the curious visitor who is prepared to leave civilization behind for a while.
The best way to see El Confital is to take a walk around, as if you were going on a trip to the beach. Make sure you take a swimsuit, goggles and snorkel, a backpack, water, sandwiches, comfortable shoes, a hat, and a plastic bag to collect any rubbish (there are only a few bins on the beach). A dusty road leads there from La Isleta, with some shortcuts bordering the rocks. You should pay attention to the cars and the rough terrain in order to avoid accidents. The same can be said about the rest of the route.
Here, when the tide is high, the most famous waves on this side of the Atlantic Ocean create flawless foamy tubes. These large waves are greatly enjoyed by surf lovers and champions from all around the world. From the top of the road you can see a wide extension of chalky sandstone that has eroded away near the shore, as well as a few small pools filled with sea water. As you approach the beach from the left-hand side you will find a crystal clear rock pool, perfect for a dip; a small arm of the ocean reaching into the land, inviting us to swim. When the sea is calm, it is possible to go snorkelling. If you decide to follow the road, the temptation to climb up the mountain of El Confital is almost irresistible. Together with Lomas Coloradas, Montaña Colorada, and a small mound located near their base, they form the group of volcanic cones of La Isleta. To the right there is a strange building which speaks of a past where materials were extracted from the quarries located at the base of these volcanoes. Hopefully, these remains will remain nothing but a bad memory, since if the extractions had continued, one of the most beautiful landscapes on our coast would have been ruined. El Confital is one of the city’s few remaining Nature Reserves and it should be treated as such, since, among other reasons, it may reveal its secrets to scientists and experts in volcanology: How is a volcano created and how does a volcanic island grow?
There is a road leading to the summit, where there is a cross and a series of caves, signs of an aborigine past. The road covers 400 metres of gentle slope, and as you walk along it, the beauty of the bay will gradually be revealed with the beach of Las Canteras appearing in the distance. To the left, the ‘Piedra de la Tortuga’ (Turtle Rock) can be seen in all its glory, beyond the coves of the island road and Las Canteras, with its own reef of ‘confites’. If the tide is low, it is possible to swim as far as the caves located to the right. A series of small caves shaped like white molars are another temptation. If you close your eyes, you will be able to hear the wind and the silence, the two features which have characterized this place for centuries. Now, go back to the road and head for the north coast. The landscape becomes wilder here. To the left, you can see the ruins of an old military fort. In adjacent areas, the remains of a salt mine which needs restoring also stand. The sea becomes rougher at El Zoco, the meeting point for strong currents which have sunk quite a few boats. Near the shore, there are two or three pools which might be suitable for a dip depending on the tide. After that, you can see a few semi-abandoned houses where old fish storage rooms can be found. On cloudy days, their appearance is almost ghostly, suggesting all kinds of stories. They used to be inhabited in the past, and there are some who claim they still are! Beyond that, there is a rusty wire fence dividing the cliff and preventing entrance to the military outpost. There is a hole in the fence though, so some adventurous people will climb through it in order to investigate the area. There are some very impressive rock formations, shaped like prisms with hexagonal borders that resemble the basalt cliff known as, ’The Organ’ in La Gomera or the prism-shaped formations in the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. If you have the time and the will, it is possible to climb the cliff and reach the neighbourhood of Las Coloradas. The row of houses stands before an imposing horizon. Once you are at the top, take a final look at the white horses on the horizon. You can then start walking down the streets of La Isleta with memories of wild, unspoilt landscapes, so close to your senses that you sometimes forget their symphony of silence.
Translation: Students from the 2nd Year 2008 at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.