El Jadida & Oualidia

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Like its more illustrious neighbour, Essaouira, El Jadida is an attractive seaside medina ringed by imposing walls. But as it’s not as well known, you can wander the massive Portuguese battlements in relative peace, and enjoy the pretty medina, where churches, mosques and synagogues rub shoulders and attest to the multinational past of the town. Attractive beaches stretch to the north and south of the town, and apart from the Moroccan holiday season (July and August) are pretty empty. For those wanting a more discreet, yet still hugely atmospheric seaside retreat, El Jadida fits the bill perfectly.

For a long time, Oualidia was the hidden secret of in-the-know Moroccans, but the word is out now. The picture-perfect lagoon, fringed with white houses, overlooked by a crumbling kasbah, and home to delicious oysters, is a popular weekend retreat for Casablancans and Marrakechis in season. Fortunately out of season (most of the year) it is as peaceful as ever, the perfect surfing waves refracted through the rocky lagoon entrance, and just the prolific birds overhead for company.

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