Of all the famed cities in Morocco, one name not on the list of cities to visit is El Jadida. But, by all accounts it should be. It’s a small, but rapidly expanding city on the Southern Atlantic Coast a little over an hour from Casablanca. Its main attraction is its gorgeous beach, but it also has plenty to offer in history and culture too.
Many Moroccans spend their summer vacations in this palm-tree lined resort atmosphere, but the foreign tourists are scarce. Once known as Mazagan and conquered twice by the Portuguese in the 1500’s and 1800’s, it is now a sprawling landscape of newly developed homes and a thriving economy due to a major phosphate company in the city.
Other companies such as Pfizer and Nestle operate out of El Jadida as well. Its ocean-side location also makes for a successful fishing industry. Its appeal lies in its modern edge and old world charm. The medina is filled with modern stores and well kept remnants of the 1850’s settlement. In the many decades following the second colonization by the Portuguese, Jewish settlers also found El Jadida to be a convenient and prosperous trading port and post. Nowadays, heading to the city’s outer limits are apartment buildings and new houses cropping up everywhere. And, as El Jadida becomes a more desirable tourist destination, the tourism industry is picking up
The people of El Jadida offer the same mix of old and new with the best of traditional Moroccan hospitality while the youth are fully engaged in all things modern. Even with the continued development, part of El Jadida remains quintessential small town Morocco with donkeys, carts and vendors roaming the neighborhoods calling out their
fresh vegetables and sardine catches to save people from a trip to the local souk. Sometimes, carpets and elaborate light fixtures are for sale hauled on the backs of eager sellers. Yet, if a more modern shopping experience suits the traveler, plenty of stores line the streets of the city for excellent shopping and great prices.
You’ll find the best places to eat by perusing the menus of the many restaurants and choosing anyone with the most appetizing menu. It is highly recommended to have a meal of fresh fish caught directly from the ocean during the visit. The beaches and nightlife are what make it so attractive to visitors who flock there every summer. Sidi Bouzid is a long stretch of soft sand and moderate waves perfect for body surfing. Along the beaches you’ll find both young and old mixing in the sun and enjoying the best of summer. Another beach closer to the city center offers plenty of cafes along its stretches and both beaches are just as alive with visitors at night as during the day. Sidi Bouzid offers the chance for a camel or donkey ride under the bright lights the shine on the darkened beach.
There are plenty of local restaurants and a few bars in town, as well as a small carnival with rides, games and treats right between the medina streets and the sandy beach. Every August, a circus rolls into town with a huge souk, nightly concerts and plenty of rides and games as well.
Once September arrives and school begins, El Jadida significantly empties out and is a much quieter and calmer place which may make it a more ideal time to visit if you want a little breathing room. But, as the beaches are the main attraction, it might not hold the same excitement as a trip during the summer. El Jadida is easily accessible by bus or train. Although the train station is a bit of a distance from the main part of town, petite taxis and local bus service are ready and waiting to whisk travelers away. During peak travel times,
the taxis can be harder to find, but patience prevails as the train station is a busy place all year round.
Even with its up and coming touristic status, you won’t find a whole host of chain hotels so considering it for a day trip is a smart idea. However, there are a few good options for those planning to stay overnight. The ibis Hotel Moussafir chain has a hotel in El Jadida perfectly positioned on the beach-front of beach near the medina. Not only it is a great location for seeing the sights off the beach, but the chances for an Atlantic Ocean view from your hotel window is high for less than $100 USD during the peak season. Additionally, the Pullman El Jadida.
Pullman EL Jadida Royal Golf & Spa
offers a more luxurious accommodation with a golf-course for the more active traveler and spa services for those looking for a little pampering.
Pullman EL Jadida Royal Golf & Spa
Route de Casablanca, km 7
(212) 5 23 37 91 00
Ibis Hotel Moussafir-El Jadida
Place Nour El Kamar
Route de Casablanca
(212) 5 23 37 95 00