Oualidia, known as the oyster capital of Morocco, is an idyllic fishing village on the Atlantic Coast that’s often overlooked by tourists who flock to the country’s more well-known seaside destinations like Agadir and Essaouira. But Oualidia, the coastal town in Morocco, is a treasure in its own right; a laid-back paradise that maintains a perpetual breeze and balmy temperatures year-round. By Erika Hobart
Morocco’s late King Mohammed V loved it so much that he built a summer palace in Oualidia back in the 1940s. The palace has long since been abandoned, but the North African nation’s royalty still visits the postcard-worthy town to this day, as do plenty of locals who covet shellfish, surfing, and uncrowded beaches.
What to See and Do in Oualidia
Unspoiled nature is abundant here, as are the opportunities to enjoy it. Oualidia has sandy beaches and a natural saltwater lagoon, both safe for swimming. Or, you can hire a tiny boat and go for a leisurely cruise. There’s no real need to plan ahead when it comes to activities — the town is full of wandering salesmen who can arrange everything from quad biking to horseback riding to a seaside picnic. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, Oualidia’s gentle waves are perfect for learning how to surf.
Oualidia is also a prime spot for bird-watching. Morocco falls under one of two major routes that birds use to migrate between Europe and Africa, and Oualidia is a rest stop for many of them.
In the spring and fall, you can see more than 400 species, from flamingos and egrets to stilts and storks. Even during the off-season months, you can get lucky and spot a flock of flamingos in the marshes and wetlands.
The wetlands are actually ideal for the production of salt. Take a 15-minute taxi from downtown and you’ll find an overlook from which you can admire sweeping views of Oualidia’s salt flats. Their pastel hues resemble slabs of strawberry and mint ice cream from above, and are as beautiful to observe as the ocean waves breaking over coves and cliffs.
Where to Eat in Oualidia
Oualidia is known for its delicious seafood — namely, oysters. Local producers have been shellfish farming here since the 1950s and produce about 200 tonnes of oysters each year.
The most gorgeous place in town to try the local delicacy is La Sultana’s O Bar, which boasts a variety of oysters, as well as sea urchins. Meanwhile, the resort’s sit-down restaurant, La Table de la Plage, has a more extensive menu that includes lobster linguine and poached spider crab. You don’t need to stay at La Sultana to dine at its lagoon-front establishments, but reservations should be made in advance.
Also popular in town is Octopus, a casual restaurant with a pool that serves Moroccan-European fusion, seafood-centric dishes. One of its more unique offerings is the grilled octopus pizza, which has avocado cream rather than tomato sauce as a base.
Another option is to skip the restaurants altogether and take a walk along the beach. Here, you’ll encounter plenty of fishermen selling their catch of the day. You can have them grill the fresh fish right then and there, or opt to have them clean and cut the fish for you to take home and prepare yourself.
Where to stay in Oualidia
La Sultana Oualidia, the town’s only luxury hotel, is a destination in itself. The stunning property has just 12 rooms and suites, all of which face the sea and have their own private terrace and jacuzzi, respectively. La Sultana Oualidia is also home to an infinity pool and a private beach for guests, surrounded by lush palm trees and hibiscus and oleander plants.
As other hotels are limited in Oualidia, your next best option is to book a cosy beach cottage on Airbnb. Plan early enough and you can find accommodations that feature barbecue facilities and a spacious rooftop, so you can grill your own feast and enjoy dinner overlooking the town’s lagoon at sunset.
This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Image Credit: Erika Hobart