blue boats essaouira moroccoIf fishing is your passion, the fresh and salt water beaches and lakes of Morocco offer the pure mountain air and the warm, Moroccan sun making these charming villages the most memorable fishing and vacation venues in the world.

The fishing industry in Morocco is a leading foreign exchange earner and considered the largest fish market in Africa. What is a source of economic wealth for the locals has also become a boom for tourism attracting Europeans, Americans, Canadians and other world travelers. The three best villages in Morocco that embody everything you want in a vacation destination, beautiful beaches, amazing cuisine and the best catch for any hungry fisherman can all be found in Asilah, thirty minutes from Tangier; Ifrane, a French-built, chalet-style town; and Essaouira, where you can feast on the freshest fish in the world.

The quaint fishing village of Asilah exudes a Mediterranean-style charm, true to its relatively recent Spanish history. Situated on a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic Coast, Asilah is an intimate yet sophisticated walled town with galleries lining the narrow streets. Every year artists and performers descend on Asilah during the prestigious International Cultural Festival where they leave behind brightly painted murals on the whitewashed walls.

The medina was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century and is painted white and blue, Andalusian style. Stroll through the medina to the seawall and relax in a local café. You’ll have your pick of great seafood and shopping especially for red coral jewelry. To experience the best of Asilah, dip your toes in the clear, blue water at Paradise Beach.

If you’re looking for a break from the heat, but not the charm of a Moroccan village, visit Ifrane. A French-built mountain resort, Ifrane is a village like no other in Morocco. Thanks to its Swiss chalet-like architecture, neatly trimmed lawns and gardens, tree-lined lake and clean, crisp mountain air, a stop in Ifrane is almost like leaving the country.

A small town situated in Morocco’s Middle Atlas, Ifrane has been around for centuries. The city rests at an elevation of 1600m above sea level and is surrounded by pine, cedar and oak forests that make it a relatively cool city. One of the treasures of Ifrane is its lakes and rivers where you’ll find an abundance of pike, perch, black bass, roach, carp, eels and barbel. The lake fishing season in Morocco is normally from May to June, depending on species.

For the best water sports, anything from surfing to scuba diving, Essaouira has an expansive sandy beach and is located next to the harbor where the water is shallow enough for swimming. Take a deep sea fishing trip where you’ll find a plentiful supply of sa perch, bonitos, mullet, chad and sea beam, along with larger fish like tuna, swordfish, marlin, grouper and barracudas.

A former Portuguese fishing port, Essaouira is also the place to eat fish. Sit down at any stall in the harbor and delight in the freshest and most varied fish BBQ you will ever encounter. Essaouira has a relaxed vibe although it was frequented in the past by rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger and stood as the location for Orson Welles’ famous film of Shakespeare’s Othello.

No matter what you catch, enjoy the unspoiled nature and unending charm of these Moroccan fishing villages. The fish won’t be far away!

Written by Heather Wright Schlichting.

Photo by [email protected] gone diving!.

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