Morocco isn’t just winding souks and desert dunes: it’s also 1,200 miles of coastline running along the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Along the coast, charming harbors, busy fishing ports and picturesque beach towns abound – they’re just as diverse as Morocco’s interior. There are many Moroccan coastal towns waiting to be explored, most of which are completely off the radar destinations.
Aside from Agadir and its package holiday resorts, most of Morocco’s coastal towns actually remain largely untouched making them ideal for laid back travelers curious to get to know Morocco off the beaten path. From stress-free medinas to incredible mountain backdrops, our top 5 Moroccan coastal towns have it all. Take your pick and spend your Moroccan getaway taking easy strolls along the beach.
One of Morocco’s most popular domestic tourism destinations, Essaouira is the epitome of laid back Morocco. The small medina is filled with art shops and souvenir stalls (minus the selling pressure you might find in the larger cities) while the busy fishing port ensures fresh fish every day. Here, it’s all about relaxing and the vast, windy beach is a haven for water sports lovers and beach bums alike. You can easily reach Essaouira by bus from Marrakech (it will be a roughly 3-hour drive) or via private transfer.
All the way in the south of Morocco, Mirleft is likely to be the country’s best kept secret when it comes to charming coastal towns. Without a tourist in sight, Mirleft’s coast is wild and its beaches deserted. The village itself is very traditional and worth a peek but its center is quite spread out and away from the sea (where you’ll find most of your accommodation options), so it will be useful to have a car. The town is a popular destination for Moroccans, though, so avoid the national holidays and you’ll have its sandy beaches all to yourself. Mirleft is just a 2.5-hour drive from Agadir and is a great base for exploring towns like Sidi Ifni and Tafraoute.
If you prefer calmer waters, the small town of Oualidia is your next beach destination. Spread across the inland shores of a lagoon fed by the Atlantic, Oualidia offers sandy coves and perfect waters for kayaking or fishing expeditions. The town is also known as the oyster capital of Morocco, making it the ideal spot for foodies to discover the country’s freshest seafood including lobster, crab and red mullet. Best of all? You’ll have the place more or less to yourself between October and June. (In the peak of the summer months, French and Moroccan tourists flock here to enjoy this peaceful oasis). Oualidia is perfectly located within a short 2.5 hour drive from both Marrakech and Casablanca.
Who says you have to choose between the mountains or the beach? Al Hoceima has the best of both worlds with the lush Rif Mountains serving as a majestic backdrop to its isolated sandy coves. At Al Hoceima, you can dive in to the crystal-clear waters of the city beach (Quemado Beach) or head a little bit outside of town to Asfiha Beach for a less crowded stretch of sand. At sunset, enjoy a leisurely stroll along Avenue Mohammed V with a pleasant sea breeze cooling you off. And when you want to take a break from relaxing, hike up the hills to enjoy a spectacular view of a piece of Morocco’s coastline. Al Hoceima is easily accessible from Tetouan or Chefchaouen by a recently constructed coastal highway or by ferry from Almería in Spain.
Just 17 miles south of Essaouira, Sidi Kaouki is one of Morocco’s most family-friendly beach towns with a handful of cafés, a number of family-run guesthouses and an endless stretch of sandy coastline. To the north, you’ll find some interesting rock pools at low tide. To the south, the sandy beaches stretches into the horizon – walk some 10 minutes long the sea and you’ll easily find your very own secluded dune. As in Essaouira, the summer months are the windiest so hit the beach in the morning and spend your afternoon lounging by the pool.
If you’re seeking a coastal getaway that is really off the radar but home to impressive beaches and the perfect Mediterranean climate, Saïdia is for you. Located on the Algerian/Moroccan border and on the Mediterranean Sea with 14 kilometers of pristine coastline, as well as a natural bird preserve, this small city is a great place to visit. Whether you want to soak up the sun, rent a boat and do some fishing, or wander the small city seeking out the best seafood restaurant, you can.
If your vision of the perfect Morocco vacation includes a visit to the beach we can make it happen. Get in touch with us today and we will help arrange your ideal experience in the country.
This post was edited and updated by Pauline de Villiers Brettell.
Pauline is a freelance writer and designer who lives between the UK and Morocco. When in Morocco she is based in the small seaside village of Asilah, and spends time working with local weavers and sourcing textiles in between attempting to grow enough olives for an annual supply of olive oil! She writes about all of these things — the olives, the carpets, and other elements of design inspiration — on her blog Tea in Tangier: www.teaintangier.com.
Photos by Lucas Peters. Lucas is the principal photographer and author of the Moon Guidebooks: Morocco as well as Marrakesh and Beyond published by Hachette. He edited and contributed to the Our Morocco anthology and helps the travelers of Journey Beyond Travel experience the adventure of a lifetime. He lives in Tangier with his family.