OualidiaA sleepy little village which is the perfect description of happy and tranquil living, Oualidia has one of the most beautiful landscapes you are likely to see. Overlooking a truly outstanding coastal lagoon, arguably the most picturesque and perfect in all of North Africa, it serves as a truly outstanding spectacle if you are here in Morocco. With a large variety of outdoor activities that are relaxing and serene like swimming and bird watching available, this is the perfect location for those looking to experience an enjoyable vacation and the more quiet side of Moroccan culture.
Positioned on the Atlantic coast, roughly half way down the Moroccan coast, it is around three and a half hours north of Marrakech, and two hours south of Casablanca, it is the perfect location in between two of the most popular tourist locations.
If you are here in Morocco to take in the landscape and the view, you simply cannot afford to miss out visiting Oualidia. The lagoon that the village overlooks is extremely calm and attracts many different birds, and has a reputation for its oysters.
The best part of Oualidia is that it looks just as outstanding in each season of the year. In the summer it is extremely festive, friendly with a brilliant atmosphere all day, and in the later months the weather stays warm and calming, with a whole new level of wildlife to see. It is a great all-round destination to visit for the balanced climate and the stunningly relaxing landscape.
Where to Stay
As Oualidia is so small (and not very well-known, which has other benefits) this can mean there is a very limited choice when it comes to places to stay.
The most popular accommodation is a bed and breakfast called L’Hippocampe. Right on the edge of the lagoon, you can expect exceptional views and a peaceful room. The rooms are simple, but they are well-kept and surrounded by beautiful gardens and a great pool. There is also a great restaurant onsite.
Lagoon Lodge in Oualidia not only offers you a place to rest your head, but they can arrange tours and trips during your stay as well. On the mid-level of the accommodation cost, you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast and dinner in the simple dining room or out on the deck each day. The Lodge feels like it is happily stuck in a simpler time, with peaceful courtyards, a serene pool, nearby donkeys, and views of the lagoon.
For a bit more of a splurge, the luxurious La Sultana is a small hotel with eco-friendly policies in mind. It merges the beauty of the nearby lagoon, the fabulous gardens and terraces with infinity pools, luxury spas, and world-class treatment of its visitors. The rooms themselves have Jacuzzis and private terraces.
What to Do
Tucked into the ideal location between sandbars, you can enjoy tranquil lagoon waters in the heart of Oualidia, or head to the other side for better waved and water activities. Surfers will love the wild waves of the Atlantic, and families and those looking to relax will appreciate the lagoon’s calm waters. Kitesurfing is another popular water activity here, and the equipment is easy to rent. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and fishing equipment for your time on the beach. Trust us when we say you will be spending much of your vacation time soaking up the beautiful beaches!
Beyond the beach, you can go hiking along the rocky shores and exploring beach caves, you can play at the local tennis courts, hire quads and pedal bikes, or visit the weekend souk for fresh food and a local, Moroccan feel far from the busy souks of Marrakesh.
It’s well-known that Oualidia produces great seafood. One of its most famous commodities is oysters—they produce about 200 tonnes every year. The oyster farm called Maison de l’Ostréa II offers group tours. These tours allow you to visit the actual farm and see how the process of farming works. Not only an educational and unique experience, you can purchase oysters here to take back with you or enjoy yourself at the attached restaurant.
Oualidia is a perfect location for birdwatching. The northern beach of Sidi Moussa is the best place to catch rare and common Moroccan birds. The best time to birdwatch is in the spring and fall—you can see flamingoes, storks, warblers and more here.
For a day trip that takes you away from Oualidia, visit the Gharbia Kasbah and Safi. Gharbia Kasbah is a vast limestone area about twenty kilometres inland from the village with a vast Kasbah and architectural gates. Safi is along the coast, a beautiful city with a Portuguese influence. The biggest draw here is the stunning pottery and the pottery workshops you can partake in.
If you are comfortable with the roads in Morocco, you can also rent scooters for a day or half-day and go riding outside of town and down the coast.
To spend a day away from the water, take a hike or ride a bike to the nearby Kasbah once constructed for Sultan El Oualid. Built in 1634, it is the perfect location to watch the sun go down and grab a picture of the stunning views from all sides. Another sightseeing opportunity is the royal palace of King Mohammed V. Once a grand, opulent home, it is now a bit of a ruin left for you to explore. There are guards here, and rumours are it may see some restoration efforts in the near future.
The biggest draw to visiting Oualidia is that you have a chance to relax. This beachfront locale offers the most pristine retreat from the bustling areas and action that the majority of Morocco offers to travellers. Here, you can spend your days lying on the beach. Oualidia also has some stunning sunsets, and each day you spend there will be one more that you can relish in the natural beauty of the coast in the setting sun.
What to Eat
The majority of Morocco’s finest seafood restaurants get their goods imported from Oualidia. So you can expect the seafood right in the village to be outstanding and fresh.
The restaurant at L’Hippocampe is much loved for its superb seafood. You can order large plates that are filled to the brim with shellfish, oysters, and fish. Each hotel in the area has a superb restaurant, and we recommend trying them all if time permits.
Similar to the hotels, the seafood at Maison de l’Ostréa II and their oysters are fantastic. The restaurant is filled late in the evening with visitors relaxing over a glass of wine and a plate of oysters. If you are on the beach for the day, don’t miss the fresh crab that is grilled directly on the beach.
Oualidia is about two hours from Casablanca, and three-and-a-half hours from Marrakesh. Getting here is a bit of a challenge, as it is not very close to most significantly larger cities. You need a bus or car to get into the village.
Once you are in Oualidia, the best way to get around the village is to walk or bike. It is a small place, and easy to access as everything is conveniently close. Many choose to rent bikes or scooters as well, to add a bit of flair and fun to daily travels.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Oualadia is in the summer months for an ideal vacation. From June to September, the weather is consistently hot and sunny. There is very little rainfall in these months, if any at all. But, Oualidia is gorgeous year round, seeing about 320 days of sunshine and pleasant weather no matter the season. Since more vacationers are also here in the summer there is a better selection of shops that open up at this time. Hot weather and refreshing waters are the perfect mix, so plan your trip to Oualidia around the summer months to experience the best.
Oualidia is not a location you can hop in to for a day and expect to soak up the vibe that permeates the sand and the people that call this coastal village home. It is an experience you need to live and be a part of.
Spend some time in Oualidia and recharge your batteries from your travels. Enjoy a few adventures, soak up the sun on the pristine beaches, and get your fill of seafood before heading on. Oualidia is a village meant to be enjoyed leisurely, and only then can you realize why this hidden gem is one of the best in Morocco.