Meet Oualidia, the Coastal Village That’s Morocco’s Best Kept-Secret
The small fishing village of Oualidia has long been a popular destination for wealthy Moroccans, but it has so much to offer foreign travelers who are seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience. Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the bustling city of Marrakech and two hours from Casablanca, the country’s largest city, this coastal village is a relaxing retreat that should be on your bucket list if you’re looking to completely unplug from reality (and who isn’t these days?).
Famous for its oyster production and seafood, Oualidia is also a paradise for water sports, including stand-up paddle boarding and surfing. It’s ideal for families and couples alike, as long as you’re ready to unwind and discover what true happiness feels like. So when you plan your next trip to Morocco, make sure to spend at least a few days in this region. Here’s everything you need to know about Oualidia, including what to do there and why it holds the title of Morocco’s best-kept secret.
Stay at the Village’s Only Luxury Hotel
Overlooking a private lagoon and oyster farms is the destination’s only luxury hotel, La Sultana Oualidia. As soon as you step foot on the property, you automatically feel like royalty. That’s mostly due to the fact that its palace-style Moorish fort architecture is out of a fairy tale — and to top it off, the service is even better. The boutique hotel has 12 gorgeous rooms, each with its own style (there’s even a legit treehouse); a beachside restaurant where you can select your own seafood from the property’s fishpond; and an infinity pool overlooking the coast.
The hotel is in a remote and secluded location, which is nice for the ultimate laid-back escape. While you’re there, don’t miss out on having a romantic Moroccan dinner in a traditional Berber tent that can be set up on the private beach with candle lanterns and carpets. Guests can also take a cooking class led by the hotel’s phenomenal chefs and learn a few Moroccan cuisine recipes. If you’re focusing on wellness and fitness, book a relaxing spa treatment or try morning yoga and Pilates while watching the sunrise. The hotel is also up to date on accommodating options for health-conscious guests with everything from almond milk to green juice.
Visit the Oyster Farms
Oualidia is known as Morocco’s “Oyster Capital” thanks to its rich history with the renowned shellfish. While the first oysters in the lagoon originated in France, they were transplanted to Morocco in the 1950s. The region’s oyster farming was initiated in this lagoon and currently dominates when it comes to the Moroccan aquaculture production.
Take a short boat ride from La Sultana to explore the local farms, learn about the production of oysters, see where they’re cleaned, and taste what the hype is all about. If feasting on delicious seafood on the Atlantic coast isn’t enough to entice you on its own, you can even have a beachside picnic filled with the fresh oysters, wine, and grilled fish.
Surf the Lagoon Waves
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Even if you’re not the most adventurous type, surfing here will be right up your alley. Since this is truly one of the most beautiful areas in the world for water adventures, it’s a must-do when visiting Morocco. The gentle waves make Oualidia’s lagoon the perfect surf spot, especially for beginners. Spend the day catching some waves at Surfland Surfcamp, which offers a professional staff, private or group surf lessons, and a great location. The teachers give you tips, help you get up on your board, and assist while you’re in the water. After surfing, a 10-minute trip across the lagoon will put you at a terrific spot to hike along the cliffs and take in the stunning panoramic views.
Go on a Bird Safari
Kayak through the lagoon to encounter some of the area’s unique wildlife. By cruising on the waters with a local guide, you’ll learn more about Oualidia’s ecosystem as you come across various bird species. If you’re a nature lover, this bird watcher’s delight will be a real highlight of the trip. Species that can be spotted in Oualidia include flamingos, oystercatchers, spoonbills, curlews and much more. The prime time to go on a bird safari and get a glimpse of these creatures on Oualidia’s coast is anytime through March and April in the spring or in October in the fall.
Get a Hammam Treatment
Spa treatments centered around hammams, or Turkish baths, are an ancient ritual in Morocco that have since been brought to spas and hotels throughout the world. While a spa day may be an unusual treat for Americans, it’s totally the norm for Morrocans and a part of their weekly routines. A visit to a hammam starts in the steam room to get rid of your body’s impurities and toxins, then the bathing room for the hammam scrub that exfoliates your skin, leaving you super soft and hydrated. Next, you’re rinsed off with a bucket of water, massaged, and brought to lie down and sip on a cup of hot mint tea while reaping all of the benefits. If it’s your first hammam experience, it may be a bit out of your comfort zone, but it’s worth every minute.
La Sultana’s stone-carved spa offers an in-depth hammam treatment, along with all of the traditional Moroccan spa services such as hot candle massages and argan oil facials. The spa’s offerings are orchestrated around essential oils and all-natural products from plants. There’s also an indoor pool and Jacuzzis to de-stress before or after each treatment.