Once called ‘Morocco’s best-kept secret’, Oualidia is a fishing village spread around a sheltered, sandy lagoon. There are no sights to see and no souvenirs to buy: Oualidia is a place to swim, sunbathe, birdwatch and commune with nature.
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With its mild year-round climate and peaceful beaches, Oualidia is an antidote to the heat and dust of Morocco. The shallow waters of the lagoon are ideal for swimming, surfing, wind-surfing or water-skiing. You can hire a kayak or pedalo or simply hail a pleasure boat to take you for a promenade down the lagoon. Among the marshes and wetlands you’ll spot curlews, flamingos, sandpipers, plovers, stilts and many other migrating species.
Keen walkers can follow the clifftop path for miles above deserted grottoes and beaches. Oualidia is also the centre of oyster production in Morocco. You can sample the oysters, as well as locally-caught crab, sea bass and sea bream, at one of the many waterside restaurants.
Freelance travel writer, James Stewart, travelled to Oualidia with Lawrence of Morocco in November 2012, writing for the Independent and easyJet in-flight magazine.
It only takes a morning to realise Oualidia isn’t your usual Moroccan resort. Though only three hours from Marrakesh or Essouaria, there are no entreaties to admire craftshops, no big-eyed requests for “un dirham, monsieur”. I almost had to hustle a couple of fresh oysters (the local speciality) from a fisherman.
So, it’s hard to believe Oualidia – a spread of white and blue houses hooked around a lagoon – is currently being touted as Morocco’s St Tropez. Sure it’s a favourite weekend escape for smart Moroccans and in-the-know Europeans. And yes, there’s a frision of French Riviera in summer when holidaymakers sizzle before the breakers on Grande Plage. The arrival of small five-star hotel La Sultana has also introduced boutique luxury (and then some).
Nevertheless, Oualidia is no St Tropez. Not unless that’s the fishing village before Bardot changed everything. Instead it is a coastal escape for connoisseurs, especially out of high season. You’ll do nothing more complicated than eat in fine seafood restaurants and swim; maybe potter down the lagoon in a boat or kayak to spot flamingos, go horse-riding or try surfing the small waves which break in the lagoon.
Personally, I could’ve passed my entire stay on the terrace of L’Hippocampe. Family-run, perfumed by flowers in its garden and the sea directly in front, the small hotel makes up in utterly charming staff and waterfront location what it lacks in luxury compared to La Sultana. There’s a small pool and petanque court but for me the best entertainment was the view from that terrace, especially over breakfast. As manager Muhammed brought warm croissants, eggs dusted with spice, baguettes with jam, fresh juice and coffee, I lost more then one morning simply watching the golden sandflats materialise and vanish with the tide, filling the air with vast drifts of gulls.
That view, those long langurous breakfasts seemed to capture something of the essence of Oualidia. It is a resort to remember how to relax; a place where plenty holds your attention but nothing – and, as importantly, no one – demands it. One morning Muhammed told me he had not left in years. Now that I could believe.
Overlooking the beautiful lagoon of Oualidia on the Atlantic coast, Villa La Diouana is the perfect place to unwind.
Stunning private house for hire, overlooking the lagoon of Oualidia. Total privacy and relaxation in a luxurious home with full staff.
The Lawrence of Morocco map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
A brilliant holiday...
I have never written to thank you for organising such an amazing holiday for myself and Sharon in Marrakech. I returned home to problems with the health of my 90 year old mother along with catching up with work and I have never got round to contacting you.
Anyhow it was a brilliant holiday and we would never ...
Freelance travel writer, Susannah Osborne, travelled to Marrakech with Lawrence of Morocco in September 2012, writing for the Financial Times.
When travelling around Morocco it is not (contrary to common belief) necessary for women to ‘cover up’ out of respect for local modesty traditions. Morocco is a very mixed society with Moroccans who dress as westerners and more traditional families dressing in a more traditional way.
The only areas of the country where it is advisable for women to cover up their legs and shoulders would be in some parts of the High Atlas Mountains (very remote areas) where the locals are rarely visited by foreigners. It is highly unlikely that you will be visiting these areas on any holiday arranged by Lawrence of Morocco.