El Oualidia, a coastal village in Morocco, is situated between the historic towns of El Jadida and Safi, at 158 km (two hours) from Casablanca and 212 km (three-and-a-half hours) from Marrakech airport. Getting to this beautiful village might seem to be a bit of a challenge as it is not very close to the larger Moroccan cites, however, you can easily get a bus or car to start your journey towards this truly outstanding spectacle in Morocco.
Oualidia (pronounced “Wa-lid-ee-ah”) overlooks one of the finest natural seawater lagoons sitting at the edge of the Moroccan coastline. If you are on a spree to explore the major parts of Morocco, then this quaint beach city of Oualidia will offer a perfect destination to pause your expedition between the hustle-bustle of the northern centers of Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat, and the southern traveler destinations of Essaouira, Agadir, and Marrakech.
El Oualidia – An Overlooked Treasure
On the coastline amid Casablanca and Essaouira, this small town enjoys remarkable surfing beaches and a calm and serene, sandy lagoon. An oft-overlooked little town, with a village ambience, is a home to around 6,500 people. It is Morocco’s oyster capital, as famous for its crustaceans as it is for the sapphire lagoon that cultivates them. The name itself is a reference to the significant role of oyster harvesting – the city’s second economic activity after tourism.
Where to Stay:
A peaceful luxury resort located along the Qualidia lagoon, La Sultana welcomes you in a well-preserved natural setting with eco-friendly policies in mind. From a private beach with an outdoor Jacuzzi and fireplace to pampering bits like luxurious spa treatments – hammams and massages and so on – as well as a Moorish-tiled indoor pool, La Sultana offers a world-class treatment for all senses. They can also arrange boat trips and surfing or diving lessons, if asked for.
Jardins de la Lagune
Jardins de la Lagune (meaning The Gardens of the Lagoon) is a semi-detached villa set in Qualidia with a quiet and pretty flower-ridden collection of houses and flats. With an infinite pool along with two other private pools, at Jardins de la Lagune, you get a choice to cook on your own or enjoy prepared meals.
With panoramic views of Oualidia Laguna, this pin-colored bed and breakfast beach hotel is situated right on the edge of the dreamy lagoon. Simple but well-kept rooms with enticing surroundings of exotic, extensive gardens and a seawater pool make this property one of the popular and best-rated locations in Qualidia.
Top Things to Do in Oualidia
El Oualidia gives you a chance to uncover a lot of exciting things to do with around 320 days of sunshine and pleasant weather no matter what the season. While the historical sites and cultural attractions keep the top spot, you might also love to explore the exhaustive list of other local attractions and activities to do in and around the city as well.
Tempting Seafood – Oysters and Fish
If you’re a foodie and have a craze of seafood, Oualidia welcomes you with its rich variety. You will find wandering salesmen offering seafood, all freshly caught, often in a bucket or slung over an elbow. If you are strolling along the beach, there is a good chance that fisherman would approach you to try out a fresh fish grilled right on the sand.
Maison de l’Ostréa, a farm to the north of town, produces over 200 tons of the shellfish and includes a much-admired restaurant, Ostréa II, where you can enjoy the huge, succulent molluscs over some amazing white wine. Hotel L’Hippocampe’s has its own terrace and beachside bistro L’Araignée Gourmande that has been quoted equally good for their oysters.
Apart from the delicious seafood and superlative oysters, people come the city to enjoy a variety of watersports such as surfing, sailing, kitesurfing, and fishing. Boat trips up the lagoon on small powered motor boat trips can make a magnificent experience during your visit to this fishing village of Oualidia. You can also hire canoes, kayaks, and fishing equipment to make the best of your time on the beach.
Want to learn how to surf? The gentle waves at the Oualidia’s lagoon might just be the best place to start. Or if you are already an experienced surfer, you will love the wild waves of the straightforward Atlantic beaches south of town. A camp run by veteran French boarder Laurent Miramon, called Surfland, attracts most Moroccans and tourists to learn how to surf. It has dormitory-style accommodation, or you may just book in for lessons.
In spring (March to May) and autumn (August until early November), the northern end of Oualidia’s lagoon and adjacent Sidi Moussa wetlands render the area a premier twitching haunt with its extraordinary variety of bird life.
Nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers gather to observe the bright pink flamingos, along with other migrating species like storks, warblers, stilts, cormorants, egrets, and elegant herons on the lagoon and surrounding coastal wetlands for a wonderful birdwatching experience.
Don’t Miss Gharbia Kasbah and Safi
For those interested in history and culture, give yourself time to explore the vast Gharbia Kasbah, a vast limestone area about 20 kms inland from the village with a vast Kasbah and architectural gates. The stunning pottery making in Safi, a beautiful city with a Portuguese influence, is also worth to explore. Here you take part in the pottery workshops with your fellows for a great fun time.
Best Time to Visit
A coastal escape for connoisseurs, El Oualidia has transformed itself into a popular holiday destination that attracts a large influx of travelers each summer. El Oualidia’s bay is perhaps one of the most scenic places on the entire Atlantic coast of Morocco.
From late June to early September, the residents of Morocco and Europe flock to the lagoon and its sheltered shore, as well as the adjacent beach facing the open sea. The beaches can get a bit overcrowded during this period. If you are in a mindset to spend some time relaxing in a beautiful but secluded place, you are welcome to visit Oualidia at any other time of the year.