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.
Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador, boasts a history as vibrant as its striking blue and white architecture. This coastal jewel has witnessed civilizations come and go, each leaving their mark on its character. With a wide array of cultures and experiences in a very human-sized city, today’s Essaouira has a well deserved place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Morocco was once home to the largest population of Jews in the Arab world, a figure topping 300,000 inhabitants. These people left behind a vast history visible through the ancient Jewish sites of Morocco. Today the number has largely diminished but many of the historical sites have remained intact and offer a glimpse into a part of Moroccan culture that is unique to the region. While the relationship between Muslim and Jewish residents has had ups and downs, the legacy and richness of Morocco’s Jewish population remains a national treasure. (more…)
For the past 15 years Essaouira has been home to the Gnaoua World Music Festival. Every summer in June, for four days, the Gnaoua Festival welcomes famous musicians to participate, share their musical ideas and create one of the most elaborate concerts in the world. Starting in 1998, the concerts have regularly drawn crowds of more than 200,000 people. The festival provides not only a platform for musical exchange but a meeting point for open-minded dialogue between foreign artists and the transcendental Gnaoua musicians. It’s a place where Gnaoua music meets the rest of the world and exchanges ideas. This colorful patchwork of musical fusion provides a fantastic space for Gnaoua musicians to jam with jazz, pop, hip-hop, rock and contemporary world music masters in the coastal town of Essaouira.
Gnaoua music is a mixture of sub-Saharan African, Berber and Sufi religious songs and music. The musical style can be described as both a spiritual prayer and an important celebration of life. Like most music, much of Gnaoua’s style can be traced to sub-Saharan Africa. Today, its practice is concentrated in Morocco. (more…)
The southern port cities begin south of Kenitra and go to the Moroccan/Mauritanian border. These cities all border the Atlantic coast and have a varied mix of colonial influence. The northern cities have heavy French/Spanish influence while the southern cities have a French/German influence. Several of these cities are best known for their ocean activities and lively nightlife.
Rabat and Sale
Rabat is the capital of Morocco and Sale is the twin city opposite Rabat. While primarily serving as the head of the government there are a few unique tourist opportunities. The Hassan II memorial and mosque on the Atlantic Ocean are a quick visit. Outside of Rabat are the Chellah and Sala Colonia. These are ruins from the Roman period. The ruins can be toured and yearly there is a jazz festival held at the site called Jazz au Chellah. If you are looking to spend some time in the area Sale might be a good place to put down roots. This city is mostly a commuter city but accommodations will be cheaper than in Rabat proper. On a historical note, Sale served as a haven for the infamous Barbary pirates who formed The Republic of Sale. Sadly, little exists documenting this time. (more…)
The Atlantic Ocean bathes thousands of kilometers of southern Morocco shores, offering numerous possibilities for vacation and activities. When you tour Morocco with Journey Beyond Travel, you mustn’t miss this part of the country famous for its beaches, mountains and desert.
At the south Atlantic coast of Morocco, you are always likely to enjoy at least some terrific weather most of the year. The cities of Agadir and Essaouira are considered the main attractions of the region.
Agadir is famous for its sunny weather throughout the year as well as its beaches, which extend for more than 10 km and are lined with first-class resorts. Essaouira has a hippie feel and is known for its wind and the numerous music festivals it hosts. The Alizes Springtime Chamber Musicale is in early May. The world famous Gnaoua Music Festival is in late June, and the Festival Andalusia Atlantic is in October, which features Judeo-Moroccan music. (more…)
With such a rich array of historical sites, ancient traditions, geological wonders, cuisine, music and culture, it can be overwhelming to choose what to see and do when you travel to Morocco. Here are five must-have experiences in Morocco that will give you a taste of all that Morocco has to offer.
View Street Performers in Djemaa el Fna
For a first-time visitor, the streets of Marrakesh’s Djemaa el Fna will be positively overwhelming. The name Djemaa el Fna is translated as “assembly of the dead,” but the place is one of the liveliest on Earth. The city’s main square is literally an open-air theatre with snake charmers, roving Gnaoua musicians and the halqa or street theatre. ?? (more…)
Whether you are an art history scholar or a casual observer who appreciates something that pleases the eye, Morocco abounds with awe-inspiring art such as tile mosaics, intricately carved handicrafts, woven carpets and more. While you can encounter artistic displays throughout the country’s cities and villages, art museums often tell a story more clearly than publicly placed mantles or a paragraph in a guidebook. Below are a few of the art museums in which the exhibits tell a story. (more…)
Essaouira, on the rocky southwestern coast of Morocco, is a favorite among visitors and locals alike. The constant sea breezes cool the small city in summer and warm it in the winter, providing a pleasant atmosphere year round. The winds also attract wind and kite surfers from around the globe; the beaches in and around Essaouira are considered some of the best kite surfing waters in the world. What really draws the crowds, however, is the beautiful architecture, lovely sea views and easy going atmosphere. (more…)
Morocco may conjure images of sand dunes, dusty mountain trail heads and steamy medina alleyways, but that doesn’t mean those are your only travel options. In fact, not only does Morocco have an extensive coastline to explore, but its coastal cities are some of the most beautiful in the country.
Whether you’re looking for sand or surf, a holiday in Morocco can provide it all. Here are some of the must-see cities on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
Sidi Ifni – In the far south you’ll find Sidi Ifni, a former Spanish port city that still wears much of its history on its sleeve. The town’s art deco architecture is one of the main tourist draws, but don’t overlook the dramatic seaside cliffs and roaring surf below.
Mirlift – Just north of Sidi Ifni is the tiny fishing village of Mirlift. Easily reached by taxi or bus from Tiznit (15 km down the road), it’s an easy day trip, and one that promises a mellow atmosphere. Stroll along the wide sands, collect shells and beach glass or explore the caves on the northern edge of the beach. (more…)
If there is but one travel tip Journey Beyond Travel can impart before your Moroccan adventure, it would be this: pack light. After all, the less you pack, the more room you’ll have for the endless number of crafts and souvenirs you’re bound to pick up along the way!
Morocco is a treasure trove of breathtaking landscapes, dynamic colors, and amazing diversity, all of which comes through in its art. Even if you think you’re not the type to get weighed down with trinkets, be prepared; your first glimpse of a Tafraouti slipper may convince you otherwise.
Moroccan handicrafts are as diverse and unique as the country itself, and the perfect memento of Fes will be altogether different from what jogs your memory back to Essaouira. What’s more, what you find will truly be in the spirit of the place. After all, Morocco has not fallen prey to mass-produced goods. Indeed, almost everything you see will have come from just a few yards away, where traditional artisans still ply their trade in small workshops and community cooperatives. (more…)