North African Beaches

North Africa's beaches are known for great scuba and windsurfing.
By: Jennifer Plum Auvil
After exploring North Africa's desert landscape and culture, there's plenty of relaxing, scuba-diving and windsurfing to be experienced at the area's lovely beaches.
North African Beaches

Many countries in North Africa boast an enviable location on the sea. Some visitors head to Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia for the ancient culture and striking architecture. But after exploring the desert landscape and culture, there's still plenty of relaxing, scuba-diving and windsurfing to be experienced at the area's lovely beaches.

Visitors to Egypt can't miss the pyramids and the massive temples. But after exploring the ancient ruins and holy spots, it's essential to check out Egypt's more modern delights along the Red Sea coast.

Sharm el Sheikh is Sinai's most expensive beach area with an abundance of high-end resorts and plenty of scuba tour outfitters. All of the rooms and suites at the Four Seasons have a balcony or terrace and most boast a seaside view. Guests can lounge in a poolside cabana overlooking the 10,764 square foot freshwater pool or lounge on the beach. Just a few miles away, Na'ama Bay is another upscale beach resort likened to a ritzy Mediterranean seaside village with international hotels, restaurants and bars.

Across the Red Sea, El Gouna is a town with personality that brings together classic charm and modern touches for a unique seaside experience. There are 14 hotels on 6 miles of beachfront and small islands that are connected by a series of lagoons. Take a 2-hour boat ride to remote islands like Tawila Island and Gobal Island and enjoy a hideaway with dazzling white sands and clear turquoise sea. For more action, Mangroovy Beach has great kite-surfing while the Marina Beach Club has rows of sun beds and chair-side food and beverage service.

The sprawling Port Ghalib complex is just 5 minutes from the Marsa Alam and about 2 hours on the road from the Valley of the Kings. There are 4 hotels in this over-the-top oasis of abundant Arabic gardens alongside majestic pools and lagoons. The beaches outside of the hotels offer prime sunbathing spots, but the real draw is the marina. With an enviable location, the Port Ghalib marina allows divers to easily access the best dive sites in the Red Sea including Rocky Island, Zabagad Island, Daedalus Reef and the Brothers Island.

Most resort towns pride themselves on endless days of sunshine, but the Bay of Dahab relies on wind power to keep the visitors happy. Thanks to a prime location in the wind tunnel of the gulf of Aquaba, the town has 300 days of wind ideal for windsurfing and kite-surfing. Newbies and seasoned windsurfers can hone their skills on a vacation with the Harry Nass Surf and Action Center including lodging, lessons and transportation to the best sheltered lagoons.

North African Beaches

Morocco has long been a popular spot with Europeans on holiday and lately has made its mark as a hot spot for travelers from around the globe. To take advantage of the nearly perfect climate, check out any of the beaches along the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts.

Agadir is Morocco's most popular seaside resort with 300 days of sunshine a year and a lovely 6-mile curved beach along the Atlantic coast. The marina is filled with yachts and boats that can be chartered for day-trips. After lounging on the beach, stroll along the beachfront promenade, Avenue Tawada. There are plenty of beachfront accommodations, including the Riu Tikida Agadir which offers all-inclusive packages.

The sea breeze cools down the old fishing port of Essaouira, a historic city with fortified walls and 6 miles of golden beaches. Visitors enjoy horse and camel rides on the crescent-shaped beach or try kite-surfing in the gentle waters. To truly appreciate the city's rich history, many tourists opt to stay within the walls in the medina. Though it's a short walk to the beach, the hotels and inns in town are filled with Moroccan history and culture that add depth to a beach getaway.

Oualidia is another of Morocco's popular summer hot spots with a prime location in a protected lagoon. If you visit in the off-season, between October and June, you may have the beach to yourself as the crowds diminish when the summer holiday is over. Sample the fresh local seafood, including the renowned Oualidia oysters.

Morocco's Mediterranean coast offers a distinct beach experience with quiet coves and calm water. Saidia has almost 9 miles of soft sandy beaches framed by fragrant eucalyptus and mimosa trees. Ras El Ma beach is protected from the winds, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely family stroll.

Tunisia is an exotic and hospitable destination with a rich history and striking coastline. The most popular beach town is Sousse where 9th-century culture meets western beach resorts with nice hotels and restaurants serving fresh seafood just off the boat. Just 2 hours from the capital city of Tunis, Sousse is known as the 'pearl of the Sahel' with its mild climate and relaxing beaches. The area is especially crowded during the festivities surrounding the town's international festival from July through August. Hotels line the sandy shores and become fancier as you reach the village of Port el Kantaoui. This luxurious port charms the wealthy yachting crowd with its signature blue and white buildings, cobblestones streets and top-notch golf.

Hammamet, a busy resort town on the Cap Bon Peninsula, makes western visitors feel at home in an exotic location with Tunisian culture coupled with great hotels, nightlife and restaurants. The walled-in medina contains a mosque, Arab baths and plenty of market stalls, many selling the area's signature pottery. The Club Med Hammamet is Moorish-style hotel made up of blue and white bungalows nestled between a lagoon pool and a public stretch of beach where visitors can enjoy camel rides along the shore.

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