Oulidia, on Morocco's Atlantic coastline, is famous for its oysters. It also has a reputation as one of the cleanest, most family friendly seaside towns in the country. The View From Fez investigates...
|Prices of oysters vary widely - shop around|
It is almost impossible to avoid oysters when visiting Oulidia. Not only are they on the menu of every restaurant, but cruise the waterfront and a dozen oyster salesmen will appear, shuck the oysters and pass them through the car window.
If you have rented an apartment, it is likely that a fishmonger on a scooter will appear each morning at your door with reasonably priced fish. They will also hunt out particular fish or prawns for you and deliver them the following day.
There are a number of good restaurants such as the Issa Blanca, and Ostrea II. The Ostrea II is a well known stop for tourists and their oysters were delicious but expensive. However, their avocado and prawn salad was bland and based on frozen rather than fresh seafood.
For ambiance, price and an extensive menu you can't go past the L'initiale. The Paella Royale for two is a real treat and packed with fresh seafood. Their oysters were also considerably cheaper than the Ostrea II and Issa Blanca. L'initiale also serves a low priced and delicious breakfast.
|L'initiale - friendly staff, and reasonably priced seafood.|
Since The View From Fez first visited Oulidia around nine years ago, the town has undergone a face-lift and a great deal of development. Villas and apartments have sprung up, which now cover most of the hillside facing the lagoon.
Unlike other Moroccan seaside towns, there has been a conscious effort to keep new buildings low rise. Their style is in sympathy with the original Art Deco and Modernist beach houses, which line the streets adjacent to the beaches.
While the town is relatively quiet for much of the year, the holiday season following Ramadan sees the town packed with visitors. At this time, booking an apartment in advance is recommended. For those without a booking, locals waving sets of keys are happy to show you apartments for short term rent.
Oulidia is also home to a wide range of birds and ornithologists will find many different species in the wetlands and surrounding areas. Taking a boat ride around the lagoon is also a way of getting close up to the cormorants, falcons, herons and wading birds of the region.
|Exploring the lagoon by boat is inexpensive and enjoyable|
One of the most pleasing developments in Oulidia is the culture of civic pride in the cleanliness of the town and its beaches. Every morning sees teams of workers scouring the dunes and beaches collecting rubbish. There are rubbish bins everywhere, which are regularly emptied. It is wonderful to see that, unlike at many Moroccan beaches, visitors actively collect their rubbish and deposit it in the bins.
Local boat operator, Hamid, complains that much of the plastic rubbish washed up on the Oulidia beaches comes from other places. "They all need to clean up like we do," he says.
Oulidia is one of 23 beaches in Morocco that have been awarded the "Blue Flag" environmental designation.
|The beaches and dunes are remarkably free of rubbish|
There are plenty of amenities for beach lovers, ranging from small paddle boats through to dune buggies which, though noisy, are restricted to an outlying area, away from the family beaches around the lagoon. Intrusive jet-skis are also thankfully prohibited at the main beaches.
For fishing enthusiasts, rock fishing is very popular, though caution needs to be taken as occasional large waves can be dangerous.