Located on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, between Safi and Casablanca, El Jadida boasts a number of nice beaches. Great for swimming and relaxing, the main sandy stretch is Jadida Beach. Rent a sun lounger and parasol or lay your towel out on the golden sand for a day of sunbathing and fun at the seaside. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops near to the beach, and visitors will also find toilets and shower facilities. More remote beaches can be found as you head away from town.
Several coastal areas close to El Jadida offer ideal conditions for surfing. Check out Haouzia Beach or Sidi Bouzid Beach, each just a few kilometres from the main town, if you’re keen to try surfing in Morocco. Alternatively, chill out on the sands and watch others in action as they ride the waves.
El Jadida is just a short drive from one of Morocco’s premier golf clubs. Mazagan Beach and Golf Resort has a well-designed 18-hole course that encompasses valleys and dunes and looks out over the sea. The Club House has a restaurant, bar, and shop. Golf instruction is available for new players.
While El Jadida’s markets are certainly no match for the huge souks of Marrakech and Fez, a stroll through the local marketplace is a great way to experience a little bit of local life in a calmer setting. An array of goods is on offer, including fresh produce, dry goods, toiletries, and household wares.
The old Portuguese water cisterns are among the main attractions in El Jadida. Constructed in the early 1500s as an underground warehouse, the building was later converted by the Portuguese into a water storage facility. The large chamber features grand pillars and the floor is sometimes covered with a shallow layer of water that, thanks to an opening in the ceiling, shimmers with eerie reflections. It is also among Morocco’s numerous movie filming sites, with scenes from the well-known film Othello by Orson Welles shot in the gloomy cisterns.
The star-shaped Fortress of Mazagan was built by Portuguese colonizers in the early 16th century. Today a UNESCO-listed site, visitors can admire the ocean views from the high ramparts and bastions and look out over the town’s patchwork of buildings. Old cannons sit along the walls and a strong sense of history comes through while exploring the Renaissance military-designed fortress.
El Jadida has several other historic buildings in addition to the fortress and cisterns. Religious buildings, lighthouses, and old dwellings are among the photogenic spots of old. The town is easy to explore by foot and history seems to spring to life around every corner. The Portuguese City Mosque, Chapel of St Sebastian, Church of the Assumption, synagogue, and El Jadida Lighthouse are among the highlights.
El Jadida was formerly known as the city of Mazagan. It was one of the earliest Portuguese colonies established in Africa, founded by explorers headed for India. The city was also the last place in Morocco to be abandoned by the Portuguese. Several structures remain today that showcase a combination of Portuguese and Moroccan architectural styles. Visitors with a keen ear may hear several Portuguese loanwords being used in the local language, and European influences are evident in some of the street names. Furthermore, the town was once home to a significant Jewish population that left its mark in the area.
As with most of Morocco’s coastal cities and towns, fresh fish and seafood is abundant in El Jadida. Of course, visitors will also find typical Moroccan fare, like couscous and tagine, but there are also plenty of opportunities to delight in bounties from the sea. From fancy restaurants to roadside stalls, seafood is available to suit most tastes and budgets. Fish include sardine, tuna, sole, swordfish, mackerel, and red snapper. Eel, crab, lobster, squid, prawn, mussels, and sea urchin are among other tasty delights visitors can relish.
The night scene in El Jadida is fairly low key, with many locals heading to cafes to chat over a glass of mint tea or coffee. There is a smattering of bars where alcohol is served, including the laid-back L’Horizon Bar and the quiet L’Arts Bar. Those seeking a louder and more raucous affair could check out Palm Tree Nightclub. Alternatively, the high-class Mazagan Beach and Golf Resort is a popular destination for night owls, with bars, a casino, and the lively Alias Club.
Add El Jadida to your Morocco travel bucket list and see a side of the country that has yet to be widely discovered by the international tourist masses.