Moroccan Mediterranean coast
The Moroccan Mediterranean coast
It is also called the Rocade du Rif or the Mediterranean Rocade, because it connects Tetouan to Saïdia, a city bordering Algeria, along both the north of the Rif massif and the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.
This route is 507 km long, 112 km of which are motorways or expressways.
The whole coastline is bordered by the Rif massif. It is shared with mountains collapsing in the Mediterranean, beaches and coves dominated by high cliffs; just cracked by a few rivers flowing into the sea and whose mouths are sometimes lined with fishing villages.
Still visible in the architecture of the large cities of the Rif, the remains of Spanish domination still mark the landscape through medieval fortifications and numerous buildings.
Nestled near the Algerian border, off the beaten track, Saidïa offers a 14 km-long beach of fine golden sand, blue and warm waters as well as assorted nautical activities.
Saidia is further bordered to the west by the Oued Moulouya National Park, located at the mouth of the river and by Mount Beni Snassens to the south.
Inaugurated in 2003 by King Mohammed VI, the seaside resort of Saidia was designed as part of the Azur Plan. This tourist complex includes 5* hotels, a 300-ring marina, a modern medina with some 40 shops, a cinema complex, a restaurant and leisure area and an 18-hole golf course.
The Béni Snassen
The Béni Snassen are a mountainous group of small surface and low altitude occupied by the Berbers Zénètes Aït Iznassen or Béni Snassen in Arabic, originating in Algeria.
The folded relief of the Béni Snassen runs along the Mediterranean coast at an average altitude of 800 metres, the Ras Foughas peaks at 1535 metres. Its natural borders are the Mediterranean to the north, the Moulouya River to the west and the Kiss and Isly wadis to the east and south.
The Moulouya plain is an agricultural plain where citrus fruits, grapes, fig trees and olive trees grow.
Music strongly rhythmed by the bendir and the ghaita or the zamar (flute with two horns), the Ragada is native to the region of the Béni Snassen. This music, originally warlike, practiced as a sign of victory over the enemy, is danced with shoulder movements and a rifle, hitting the ground with the feet beating the measure to symbolize his belonging to the land.
Mediterranean city located a few kilometers from the Spanish enclave of Melilia and 75 km from Algeria, Nador is the largest economic zone in northeast Morocco. An economic activity essentially linked to the steel industry, fishing, the transit of Moroccans residing abroad via the port of Beni Ansar … and informal trafficking of all kinds that the natives call trabando.
A cosmopolitan city, Nador speaks Zenatiya, Berber of Aït Iznassen, Darija, Moroccan Arabic and Spanish.
Practically founded at the beginning of the twentieth century, the city comes from a nucleus of villages called Kabila Mazuza of which little is written. The only ones come from the Spanish administration in Melilia which speaks more in terms of fighters and horses from the Guedaia region.
According to some descriptions from the very early twentieth century, Nador was only a hamlet of about 150 houses surrounded by prickly pear trees, located a few dozen meters from the road that went from Selouan to Melilia.
Abandoned by its population during the conflicts with Spain, the village was razed to the ground, leaving intact the only mosque in the village known as’Yama Labyad’ for the whiteness of its walls. It was at this time that the present city of Nador was founded in the plain adjacent to the Mar Chica around 1910.
Sebkha Bou Areg by the Moroccans. On the Mediterranean side, Boqueronesa beach stretches from Beni-Anzar, south of Melilia, to the opening of the dune barrier on the lagoon opposite Nador.
The “Little Sea”, as the Spaniards call it, Sebkha Bou Areg, has a small opening and a major program to develop and clean up the lagoon was launched in 2006 to make the Mar Chica a leading ecotourism site.
Overhung by Mount Gourougou (900 m), the Mar Chica is 25 km long and 7 km-wide.
Cleaned water, buried waste, the lagoon has regained its original and wild beauty and the beach of tourists and bathers happy with this new environment.
Tourist and hotel infrastructure, golf, shops complete the offer proposed by the new seaside resort of Nador.
Al Hoceima, a town in the center of the Rifan Coast 320 km south-east of Tangier and 140 km west of Melilia, was founded at the beginning of the 20th century; its development began after the Rif War in the early 1920s.
Culturally attached to the Eastern Rif, Al Hoceïma dominates a bay whose tourist potential has been developed since Morocco’s independence in 1956.
Called Villa Sanjurjo during the Spanish domination, Al Hoceïma, Taghzout for the Rifan Berbers, became one of the most pleasant seaside resorts of the Moroccan Mediterranean coast.
Ajdir, the birthplace of Abdelkrim Khattabi, the emblematic leader of the Rifan resistance against the Spanish and French colonizers in the 1920s, lies 10 km south of the city. Ajdir was also the capital of the ephemeral Republic of the Rif (1921–1926).
Al Hoceïma is a restful stopover without any real cultural heritage, but it has many natural assets. Beaches and coves dominated by high cliffs, rocky promontories dot this stretch of the Mediterranean coast where luxurious seaside areas, vast hotel complexes and other holiday villages invite themselves.
For the record, Al Hoceïma was the first Moroccan city to host a Club Méditerranée in 1960. For lack of profitability, it was closed in 2003.
The beaches of Al Hoceima
Among the many beaches in the area, Quemado beach stretches in the city center, facing the bay and next to the ferry terminal that provides connections with Mortil in Spain.
Those of Calabonita and Maktoâa are to the south of the city, once passed the Corniche Morro Viejo and Cape Viejo. Note that Calabonita has a scuba diving club (ACRAP).
Other beaches: Rmod, Thara Youssef, Boumehdi, Boussekour, stretch west of Al Hoceïma. From the city center you reach its beaches which are integrated into the national park by taking the Avenue Tariq Ben Ziyad then the Corniche maritime of Sabadia.
Al Hoceima Bay has many rocky islets and small islands such as Sabadiya.
800 meters off Al Hoceima, the rocky island called Peñon de Alhucemas, island of Nokkor by the Rifains, as well as two other unoccupied islets attached to it: the Isla de Mar and the Isla de Tierra, are part of the Plazas de soberanía under Spanish domination.
Al Hoceima National Park
To complete these tourists offers under development, a national park of a total of 47,000 hectares combining one of the best preserved marine areas (28,400 ha) and the hinterland of the Bokkoyas massif was created in 2004.
The park, which encompasses a complex of great biological value, is characterized by a large portion of rocky and wild coast as well as limestone massifs falling in the Mediterranean sometimes in the form of high cliffs. With few cultures, the landscape is often eroded by sea winds.
Many caves are home to a few monk seals and three varieties of dolphins swim in park waters overflown by many ospreys. Groupers and their marine turtles are also familiar with these calm blue waters.
More than a hundred plant species have been recorded there: cedars, dwarf palms, Aleppo pines, jujubiers, carob trees…