According to wholevehicles, El Hoceima is a coastal Moroccan city at the foot of the Rif ridge – relatively young, it was founded in the early 20th century. But despite this, it bears the title of one of the most picturesque in Morocco. Antique Andalusian-style architecture, beige “walls” of mountains and azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea definitely reinforce this proud status. The city is interesting for its picturesque beaches, clear sea and Spanish heritage, which has taken deep roots in the life of local residents – Arabs and Berbers, who break for a siesta after lunch.
How to get to Al Hoceima
To get to El Hoceima, you will have to fly with two transfers – in Casablanca and Tetouan or in European cities – it all depends on the date of departure. The flight will take a total of 11.5 to 16 hours. But in the summer you can get away with one change – in Casablanca, and then you will be able to keep within 10 hours.
From Al Hoceima airport you can take a taxi to the city in 20 minutes and 55-85 MAD. Taxis are the main means of transport here due to their cheapness: 10-15 MAD per trip (1.5 times more expensive at night). The prices on the page are for September 2021.
The city is a large resort by Moroccan standards, so there is a large selection of hotels. Probably the best local hotel is Mercure Quemado Resort 4*. It is located on the beach “Kemado” – in a quiet bay and at the same time not far from the center. A standard double room with a memorable sea view costs 1100 MAD with breakfast per day. Other “fours” will cost much less: 600-700 MAD per night. Three-star hotels rent double rooms for 300-400 MAD. Apartments can be rented for 200-600 MAD, depending on the location and “stuffing”.
The beaches of El Hoceima
Kemado is the largest and most important beach in the city (GPS coordinates: 35.244939, −3.926239). It is located in a bay protected by a huge cliff, south of the ferry terminal. The beach is famous for its cleanliness, fine golden sand and clear sea. Besides, it’s free. On Kemado you can swim on a catamaran, fly a kite, play volleyball or frisbee. Entry into the water is smooth, but due to the abundance of undercurrents with children, you need to be more careful.
Picturesque beaches and clear sea – that’s what attracts El Hoceima.
Pebble-covered Isri Beach is a bit remote but popular with snorkellers (35.219264, −3.912334). There is a large diving center and a couple of cafes with tables a few meters from the sea. A little south of it is the long beach of Sfija (35.208079, −3.893061) with gray sand, an abundance of food and beautiful views: in the middle of the sea surface you can see the Spanish island of Peñón de Alhucemas with a lighthouse.
Cuisine and restaurants
Centuries-old fishing traditions are still very strong in El Hoceima. The port is crowded with boats and boats, which means that the main dishes in local restaurants will be prepared from the freshest seafood: tuna, mackerel and sardines. The fish is simply grilled with salt and pepper.
Of the traditional dishes in most restaurants, you can try “hariru” (mutton soup with beans), “imjadra” (lentil soup) and other thick stews served with pita bread.
Lunch in a simple family restaurant costs around 40 MAD per person. Dinner in a coastal cafe for two will cost 100-150 MAD without alcohol. Fast food is traditional oriental lamb or beef kebabs and sandwiches for 10 MAD.
Attractions El Hoceima
The city has a lot of Spanish heritage, but it is not of particular architectural interest. The most remarkable architectural monument is the Spanish Institute of Melchor de Jovellanos near the port (Av. Tarik Ben Ziad s/n). This cream-coloured building with red columns and a blue and white tiled gable is an example of an expensive mansion from the early 20th century. Next door is Mohammed VI Square – the main one in the city. It is the largest in El Hoceim, it is from here that the descent to the Quemado beach begins. And from the square offers a breathtaking view of the sea surface.
A trip to El Hoceima would not be complete without a visit to the national park of the same name. It adjoins the city from the western side. Rocky canyons are home to rare birds and reptiles, as well as typical inhabitants of the Mediterranean mountain landscapes: jackals and wild boars.
In the mountainous area, here and there, small Berber settlements come across, where you can buy authentic souvenirs and, if you’re lucky, get an invitation to dinner.
The climate in El Hoceim is typical North African. Summers are dry with little or no rain. In autumn and spring it is easier – the city is periodically refreshed by rains. Most tourists spend their holidays here at this time.