Moroccan Atlantic Coast
Moroccan Atlantic coast, from Tangier to Essaouira
This part of the Moroccan Atlantic coast is easily traversed. The A1 motorway runs along it almost intimately for 440 km from Tangier to El Jadida. Past El Jadida, it is a picturesque road, the R301 which takes over to Safi via Oualidia. It then follows the ocean through the Chiama country and the first foothills of the Western Atlas to Essaouira.
A cosmopolitan city at the gateway to the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, Tangier has an Atlantic coast south of Cape Spartel with beautiful beaches.
Located south of the Strait 14 km west of Tangier, Cape Spartel is a rocky promontory rising 315 m above the waters of the Atlantic Ocean whose waves have carved many caves.
At the foot of the cape, the Sol and Ba Kacem beaches surround a small lagoon forming a tiny inland sea. The beach Sol is one of the famous surf spots around Tangier. Located next to Achakkar, Ba Kacem beach has a blue flag. As for Achakkar beach, it stretches a few hundred metres to the south and the caves of Hercules.
Caves of Hercules
Natural caves dug by the waters of the ocean, the caves of Hercules are about fifteen kilometers west of Tangier. This is where the mythical Gardens of the Hesperides would be located, synonymous with the 11th task of Hercules.
The places, a bit crowded with tourist stalls, have become a privileged walk for Tangiers who come to admire the sunsets over the ocean.
At the foot of the caves of Hercules, to the south, the beach of Sidi Kacem offers several hundred meters of fine golden sand.
Charming seaside resort with a small medina with white houses.
Asilah beach extends north of the port, a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.
The medina, surrounded by imposing ramparts, overlooks the ocean and the fishing port.
The place of the souk Es-Sghir, small permanent market, is the most animated place of the medina. While the Place de Libération is the meeting place.
Beach immense and very frequented in summer but often rather dirty, it is lined with small cafés restaurants.
About forty kilometres south of Larache, Moulay Bousselham is a village by the ocean whose heights offer a beautiful panorama.
Moulay Bousselhma beach is located south of the city. Currents can make swimming dangerous, even at low tide.
Located about forty kilometers north of Rabat and close to the city of Kenitra, Mehdia has all the qualities of a pleasant seaside resort increasingly frequented by Moroccan families at weekends and during the summer season.
If Kenitra is only an industrial city without much interest, Mehdia is provided with a picturesque fishing port installed at the mouth of the wadi Sebou and vast beaches on which, to the great satisfaction of the surfers, magnificent oceanic rollers are deployed. Rolls that it seems, have made Mehdia the cradle of surfing in Morocco.
Mehdia beach extends south of the mouth of the Sebou river, bordering the town, while to the north the immense sandy expanse of Ouled Berjal stretches for about fifteen kilometres.
Nearby is the nature reserve of Lake Sidi Boughaba bordered by a forest of eucalyptus and red junipers, refuge of many species of migratory birds.
Rabat / Salé and Casablanca / Mohammedia
Only 50 km apart, these two sites are the major urban centres of this part of the Moroccan Atlantic coast.
On either side of the mouth of Oued Bouregreg, the medinas of Rabat and Salé dominate the ocean. If small beaches border the two banks at the entrance of the wadi, the rest of the coast of the two privateer cities is rocky and provided with low cliffs.
It is by going south towards Casablanca that one will find beaches: in Temara, Skhirat, Bouznika, Mohammedia.
As for the megalopolis of Casablanca, several beaches dot its shores. Like Zenata and Sebaa in the northeast. To the southwest are two beaches separated by the tip of the Corniche, the beaches of Lalla Meryem and Aïn Diab and further that of Madame Choual.
Still preserved from mass tourism, the medina with the white houses of Azemmour, surrounded by ramparts erected by the Portuguese in the 16th century, overlooks the mouth of the Oum Er-Rbia, 80 km south of Casablanca.
Once a coquettish city, the Islamic, Jewish and Portuguese remains of its past: mellah, bordjs,’Dar El Kadi’, Portuguese citadel, covered passages and arcades of the medina, tend to decay due to lack of maintenance. Nevertheless, a walk in the tranquility of its narrow and white streets remains pleasant there.
2 km from Azemmour, El Haouzia beach is a popular spot for surfers, bodyboarders and windsurfers.
The old Mazagan, described as “Deauville of Morocco” by Marshal Lyautey, has preserved a heritage inherited from Portuguese domination.
Dominating the port, the old town is surrounded by ramparts framed by four bastions all restored in the 19th century. El Jadida is known throughout Morocco for its stud farm which built in 1913 under the French protectorate, is the oldest Moroccan stud farm.
El Jadida beach is an extension of the port to the south-east. An important fishing port, it also hosts pleasure boats and water sports infrastructures.
In time, this part of the coast which runs up to the beach of El Haouzia located about fifteen km to the north next to Azemmour, should become a huge seaside resort… hotels, golf, casinos are on the program.
Oualidia is a pleasant little seaside resort located about the same distance from El Jadida and Safi. Oualidia is as well known for its oysters as for its lagoon open on the ocean and the beaches which border it.
But be careful, if the waters of the lagoon seem calm, they are nevertheless subjected to the influence of the tides and strong currents… and the water is cold! In summer, a lifeguard with a zodiac watches the lagoon which can also be an ideal place for beginners.
Several beaches extend south of the city near the R301 road towards Safi: the Grande Plage, Sidi Karam Addaif beach, Ayiir Beach, then further that of Cape Beddouza.
The reputation of the city derives from its ceramic craftsmanship.
The medina is the oldest district of the city, where the street of the Souk, very animated and coloured, is lined with shops and small craft workshops.
Safi beach, developed as a tourist site, extends north of the port at the foot of the cliff of Sidi Bouzid.
From Essaouira to Western Sahara coasts
On its 1,300 km of coastline, often wild, the southern Moroccan Atlantic coast, from Essaouira to Dakhla, offers so many contrasting landscapes.
This itinerary plunging into the adventure of the great south to the Mauritanian border is a succession of long and wonderful white sandy beaches interspersed with steep cliffs.
Essaouira, the ancient Mogador
First stage on this long journey, Essaouira, the ex-Mogador is situated at the border of the Chiadma tribes, Arabic-speaking, and the Haha, Berber-speaking people of the south inhabiting the first slopes of the Anti-Atlas.
Mixed with the Gnaoua, these descendants of African slaves and the ancient and important Jewish community that lived there, they have made this beautiful port city full of history a multicultural city.
Its softness, its old medina with colourful souks and its port have always attracted and inspired many artists. Painters, musicians, craftsmen, sculptors have drawn their creativity from its lively alleys.
Thanks to these great artistic activities, the city hosts an impressive number of art galleries, museums, craft workshops, and festivals that make this city a unique cultural centre in Morocco.
Its long beaches, on which the Taros blows, this strong west wind of the region, its rate of sunshine combined with a constant heat allowed it to become a thriving seaside resort, a surf spot known worldwide without having denied its traditional fishing activity.
Sidi KaoukiFrom Sidi Kaouki to Agadir
From Cape Tafelney and its small fishing village, a picturesque itinerary meandering along a still wild coast, passing through the small town of Tamri to Agadir, bordered by the scents of Cylon and still fields of argan trees.
This trip between sea and mountain crosses several famous surf and windsurfing spots. Taghazout, Tamrhakh, Aourir, from where you can discover small valleys hidden in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and the Immouzer waterfalls.
Its modern and efficient fishing port is one of the biggest in Morocco. The marina, its long beach of fine sand, bordered by a beautiful promenade, its 300 days of annual sunshine make it one of the popular Moroccan seaside resorts.
Reconstructed after the terrible earthquake that ravaged it in 1960, it no longer really presents the typical Moroccan aspect of a Moroccan city, but it has managed to develop a dynamic city centre containing many green spaces and museums.
The capital of the Souss has thus become a port city whose activities are essentially and resolutely oriented towards the sea and water sports.
Tiznit and Aglou beach
To the south of Agadir, a small coastal plain bordering the ocean lies at the mouth of the wadi Massa, before arriving at the small town of Tiznit and the Souss Massa National Park. A significant number of bird species find refuge along the shoreline.
Tiznit is a small town surrounded by a vast ochre rampart 5 km long. From there, you can reach the beach of Aglou, also known surf spot, but swimming is risky there because of the strong sea currents which agitate its waters.
From Aglou, the coastal road takes its rightful place in a variety of landscapes, winding between the ocean and the Anti-Atlas. She’s going through Mirleft. This charming village is made up of a main artery on the edge of which arcades shelter shops, shops, cafés and traditional restaurants, local craft shops.
Do not miss its old military fort, from where from its height you can admire the city and its surroundings. Also the beaches interspersed with coves and steep cliffs attract surfers, despite the strong sea currents, as well as fishing enthusiasts.
This combination has made this small isolated village an increasingly popular seaside resort.
Continuing along the Atlantic Ocean, a picturesque itinerary takes us to Sidi Ifni, an ancient Spanish enclave until 1969, perched on a large cliff. This charming Spanish city with its long sandy beaches and high waves also makes it a popular surf spot.
Sidi Ifni is an ideal starting point to join and visit the small Berber villages nearby. Its seaside promenade allows you to watch out for boats returning from their daily sea-hunting trips, and their return quickly brings life to the small harbour and the rest of the city.
Western Sahara coasts
The road continues south and Tan-Tan, passing through the picturesque fishing port of Sidi Ouazik, then continues its path along the coast called ”White Beach” to reach El Ouatia.
Located 20 km from Tan-Tan, this small port sardinier welcomes you with a magnificent sculpture representing a round of sharks. Very beautiful beach on this trip to the south, from which you can sometimes glimpse the relatively close Canary Islands.
Now, the adventure really begins towards the great south of the Atlantic coast, towards the Saharan provinces, landscapes interspersed with ergs and regs up to Tarfaya.
On this route, as for us, a stopover is necessary to visit the lagoon of Naila, a little south of Sidi Akhfemir, where equilibrist fishermen throw their fishing gear from very high cliffs.
The lagoon of Naila is a nature reserve in which you can walk or boat only. It is located within a vast lagoon cord sheltering pink Flemish, waders and various migratory species. A pleasant place of freshness after the dry road.
The Saharan provinces
After Tarfaya, it is finally the entry into the Saharan provinces, where the vastness of the desert is beginning to be felt. The road leads us to Laayoune without completely following the ocean, which has become a desert of villages and dwellings.
From Laayoune to Dakhla, the ancient “Villa Cisneros” of the Spanish, there are 500 km of asphalt along this ocean with multiple faces.
A trip punctuated by a few coastal port villages before arriving at the peninsula of Rio De Oro, which is home to the city of Dakhla, another Moroccan city known worldwide for surfers and music lovers with its famous festival which takes place every spring.
But also a garrison town before a possible trip to Mauritania and even further south to Black Africa. All these diversities give the Atlantic coast its undeniable charm.