Oualidia is not a name that easily comes to mind if you ask international travelers who visited Morocco. But it is, in fact, a very popular place among Moroccan holidaymakers. They come here to seek shelter and tranquility in the deep blue waters of Oualidia saltwater Lagoon and its shores, away from the Atlantic Ocean winds, obstructed by red cliffs. This is a spot for slow-paced exploration. Or, if you venture off to the Atlantic, for thrill-seekers looking to enjoy all the water sports that the waves and the wind bring.
Introduction to Oualidia
Located in the North of Essaouira, at approximately 3 hours’ driving, Oualidia is a small city built in the right spot, in a half-moon-shaped stretch of coast that engulfs an idyllic natural wonder. The location is just perfect, at a place that boasts 320 days of sunshine every year. This is a charming village with a beach colored by boats belonging to local fishermen that work to bring delight to seafood lovers.
The ocean tides flow through the lagoon and nurture it for swimmers and water sports fans interested in kayaking, surfing or simply boat rides. Walking along the shores you will find beaches, as well as caves and cliffs, all especially beautiful in the sunset hour. Oualidia is a shoreline to find serenity. Take your time all day long. Greet the evening at a restaurant tasting the oysters picked up from the local sea farms that produce the exquisite, famed delicacy that got Oualidia known as Morocco’s oyster capital.
Oualidia owes its name to El Oualid, the last sultan of the dynasty Saâdienne. The small village was the place chosen by King Mohammed V to build his summer palace by the water, thus decreeing Morocco’s first royal beach in the 1940s.
The present-day sea resort is embedded in the natural harbor that has been transformed into a high-end seaside destination for Moroccans.
What to see in Oualidia
Any top highlights anyone can think of about Oualidia will always need to have nature at the top. Explore every inch of the coastline on pleasant hikes. Observe life on the sand and off the cliffs. Be a judge of all the surfers’ performances you can see at the wildest waves outside the lagoon. Also pay attention to the windsurfers, taking advantage of the windy Atlantic.
More calmy enjoying the peacefulness of the lagoon, you can see people fishing, sailing, swimming, canoeing. Don’t just be a watcher. Take part in all these activities in the water. On the ground, visit the Kasbah and experience the best vantage point to look around in awe. Snap a few pictures of the lagoon, the cliffs, and the beaches. The animal life, mainly birds, is a must in Oualidia. From August to October, there is even the chance to see whales off the coast on such an expedition.
5 sights and landmarks you can’t miss
Yes, you’ve guessed it. We have to mention the beach again. It is perhaps not a landmark per se. But it sure is a land that marks an indistinguishable memory in your heart.
Oualidia is absolutely perfect for bird enthusiasts. Its particular geographical situation and general landscape turn the lagoon into a mandatory stopover for many migratory birds that seek the milder Moroccan climate during the colder times in the Northern hemisphere. These birds join the ones that live in the area throughout the year. Expect to find, at different times of the year, limicolous, grey herons, spatulas, big cormorants, golden plovers, white stilts, ash curlews, marbled ducks, warblers, storks, pink flamingos,… Head to the restful lagoon to find all these birds or to the coastal wetlands. The best time to go birdwatching is in Spring and Autumn.
The northern part of the resort is where you will find the salterns. These ponds were built by hand to harvest the salt that the hot sun reveals after the evaporation of the Atlantic seawater. You can visit the salterns by boat, a trip that will also allow the discovery of the endemic flora and fauna across this natural environment.
Going for a walk on the cliffs can become an exploratory expedition, especially if you take your kids with you. There are a few caves there that are asking to be found.
Yes, we know, restaurants can’t exactly be considered monuments. But the seafood in Oualidia is out-of-this-world. Go for freshly caught calamari, lobster, shrimp. Oh, and of course, oysters!