Although many visitors are initially drawn to Morocco by dreams of treasure-filled souks and starlit nights in the Sahara Desert, the country also has more than its fair share of breathtaking beaches. There are two coastlines to choose from: the laid-back Mediterranean with its safe swimming beaches and balmy water temperatures, or the untamed beauty and rich culture of the windswept Atlantic coast. In this article, we take a look at 10 of the best options for a Moroccan beach vacation. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to add on an extra week (or three) to visit the country’s inland attractions.
Tagharte Beach, Essaouira
Located on Morocco’s central Atlantic coast, Tagharte Beach is the main beach of popular vacation spot Essaouira. It holds Blue Flag status in recognition of its cleanliness and water quality and boasts 6 miles (10 kilometers) of beautiful golden sand. With so much space, there’s room for everyone even in peak season. The water is relatively cold and there are better swimming beaches on this list but for high-octane watersports, Tagharte has few rivals. Essaouira is famous for its strong winds which create optimum year-round conditions for windsurfing, surfing and kitesurfing. Sign up for a lesson or rent a board at one of the local surf shops; or join the locals playing beach football instead. Horse and camel rides are also offered.
Sidi Kaouki Beach, Sidi Kaouki
The sleepy surf town of Sidi Kaouki is situated 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Essaouira. Its beach is a quieter, wilder alternative to Tagharte; and with the same strong Atlantic winds, it’s a great alternative when the waves at the bigger beach get too crowded. Expect picturesque sand dunes, long stretches of sand and basic amenities including sun loungers and surfboards for hire. The ubiquitous horse and camel touts can also be found here. Take a walk to the north of the beach to discover interesting rock pools at low tide; or head south to a small river where wild flamingos are often spotted in winter. If you decide to stay longer, Sidi Kaouki is known for its quality backpacker accommodations and authentic local cafés.
Saïdia Beach, Saïdia
The resort town of Saïdia is located in northern Morocco near the Algerian border. It’s relatively off the beaten track for international visitors, but savvy Moroccans flock here in summer to enjoy Blue Flag-awarded Saïdia Beach. At 8.5 miles (14 kilometers) it’s one of the longest beaches in the country and its Mediterranean setting means the water is always warm and the climate is pleasantly temperate even in summer. Work on your tan, go for a swim or pack a picnic to enjoy in the fringing groves of mimosa and eucalyptus. To the west of the beach lies Moulouya National Park, while Saïdia itself boasts a full range of amenities including a marina, an 18-hole golf course and a selection of 5-star resorts.
Legzira Beach, Sidi Ifni
The breathtaking Legzira Beach is found on the southern Atlantic coast, just 20 minutes’ drive northeast of former Spanish outpost Sidi Ifni. It’s famous for its ancient sandstone arches, one of which collapsed in 2016. The other remains along with some spectacular cliffs and from the top, you can admire the contrast of the red stone with the blue ocean spread out before you. A stairway leads down to the secluded, sandy bay. Probably the country’s most photogenic beach, Legzira is particularly beautiful at sunset when the cliffs glow crimson in the fading light. During the day, it’s a popular spot for romantic walks, surfing and paragliding. Amenities include local cafés along the beach’s edge while surf shops in Sidi Ifni offer guided tours, lessons and rentals.
Paradise Beach, Asilah
Also known as Rmilate Beach or Playa de las Cuevas, Paradise Beach is the relaxation destination of choice for visitors to the fortified seaside town of Asilah. It’s located 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) south of the town center at the end of an unpaved road. To get there, hop in a shared taxi, hire a 4x4 or catch a ride on a traditional horse and cart. Although there are closer beaches (including Asilah’s own town beach) Paradise is worth the effort for its unspoiled, uncrowded beauty; and besides, getting there is part of the adventure. In summer, beach shacks serve cold drinks and fresh seafood tagines while rental umbrellas provide a respite from the heat. Out of season, you may have the beach virtually to yourselves.
Taghazout Beach, Taghazout
Situated just north of Agadir, the laid-back fishing village of Taghazout has earned a reputation as one of the best surf spots in Africa. The beach’s various breaks cater to beginners and experienced surfers alike with top spots including Anchor Point, Boilers and Immesouane (touted as the longest ride in Morocco). If you’ve never tried surfing, don’t worry — there are plenty of surf schools, camps and rental shops offering lessons at reasonable prices. The best season for surfing is September to April; but in summer, backpackers and families are drawn by the beach’s safe swimming and chilled out vibe. If seclusion is a priority for you, plan to go sooner rather than later; there’s a major resort in the pipeline that’s guaranteed to increase visitor numbers.
Sidi Abed Beach, El Jadida
If you’re looking for somewhere completely off the map, consider making the journey to Sidi Abed Beach. The nearest major settlement is the port city of El Jadida (a 40-minute drive away) and the beach has no shops, no cafés, no vendors or touts. Instead, there’s just the soft crash of the deep blue Atlantic meeting the golden shore and a few wooden fishing boats pulled up on the sand. You’re likely to be the only tourist there. Of course, the beach’s remoteness means you need to be completely self-sufficient; don’t forget to bring plenty of water and an umbrella or something similar for shade. You can buy authentic, affordable food in one of a handful of local restaurants in Sidi Abed village.
Martil Beach, Martil
Martil Beach is located in the far north of the country on the Mediterranean coast. It’s the main attraction of Martil town and a popular getaway destination for visitors from the nearby cities of Tetouan and Tangier. A place to see and be seen, it boasts a scenic promenade and a lively selection of beachfront restaurants, shops and cafés. The beach is at its busiest in the summer when holidaymakers from Morocco and Europe come to soak up the carnival atmosphere. For a more relaxed experience, come in September or May when the crowds have mostly gone but the weather’s still balmy. Whenever you travel, the wide bay impresses with its white sand shore and mountain views; while the warm, calm waters are ideal for swimming.
Oualidia Lagoon, Oualidia
The charming coastal village of Oualidia is blessed with an average of 320 days of sun per year and a crescent-shaped lagoon that’s protected from the Atlantic by two rocky promontories. Generous swathes of sand line the lagoon, providing the perfect setting for families to paddle, swim and play all day long. Fishermen moor their brightly painted boats here, too, and in the evening you can sample their daily catch at one of the village’s quaint restaurants or luxury guesthouses. Oualidia Lagoon is also renowned as one of the best birding destinations in Morocco. Migrant birds on their way from Europe to Africa stop here to recharge in spring and fall and guided boat safaris may yield sightings of hundreds of flamingos (amongst other species).
Dragon Island, Dakhla
The remote Dragon Island is probably the ultimate beach destination for adventurous travelers. It’s located in a scenic lagoon off the peninsular city of Dakhla in the Western Sahara; a disputed territory currently administered by Morocco. A picture-perfect spit of land with white sand shores that fall away into the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, the island is uninhabited and completely unspoiled by people. The easiest way to get there is on a two-hour boat excursion with Dakhla-based operator Dakhla Attitude. Spend your time exploring, sunbathing or looking for exotic shells on the shoreline. The lagoon itself is legendary for watersports including kitesurfing, sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddling. In fact, the World Kiteboarding Championships were held here in 2018.