Al Hoceima – A Young City And Isolated Riveria
Al-Hoceima is a lively city that attracts young tourists from all walks of life. Many travelers prefer visiting Al-Hoceima mid-September-April for a quiet time at the beach.
The city of Al Hoceima will come as a big surprise element for you in the Rif area. It is a wonderful place to relax and you will notice the difference immediately. It is nowhere like the farming hamlets and tribal markets of the Rif. It is an upcoming town but without the hustle and bustle of other Moroccan cities like Tangier and Fez.
You would find it similar to the other modern cities of Morocco. It is overall an idyllic setting during winters with wooded hills beckoning in the background sloping down to the town beach Plage Qualermo. The summers are the hectic though with Moroccan and French tourists. The small size however is the charms of the city.
The city of Al Hoceima was developed by the Spanish around 1925. During the Rif rebellion it was General Sanjurjo who claimed the territory for Spain and name it after himself as Villa Sanjurjo. Even now some locals call it Villa. The troops built houses, schools and hospitals above the beach and it started growing as a small town. After Morocco’s independence in 1956 it underwent vast development and was renamed to its original name Al Hoceima.
With an estimated population of 100,000 it is the second largest port of Rif Region after Nador. You can find the schools and Spanish Catholic Church built during the Spanish rule even today. The Spanish influence can be felt even now with inhabitant still habituated to the afternoon siesta and paseo or walk around the city square and shops.
The most popular beach is the Playa Quemado beach where General Sanjurjo and his troops landed in 1925. 1948 even saw a Spanish motion picture called “Alhucemas” being made telling the story of an army official in times of Franco who transforms from a coward to a hero.
During the 1950’s to 1960’s when the economic condition was not very good the small houses were painted white and blue. Later as the city developed and people became financially better they started decorating their houses in bright colors.
However in 2007 their mayor has stated that, the houses be painted in white and blue to give the city its original look. In 1994 and 2004 moderate sized earthquakes hit the town and its surrounding villages.
What to see?
The town is very small in size and that’s what is charming and relaxing about it. There is not much that you can find in terms of sight seeing. The major attractions however are beautiful beaches around the town as well as hikes to the olive grove hills. The Plage Quemado, Chafarina and Asfiha beaches are the popular and clean beaches of the little town.
The Spanish college, Colegio Espanol, a custard cream colored building with blue and white tiles is the only notable colonial building that you will find here. As you roam the newer part of the town, the city’s main square called the Place Massira Al Khadra offers a spectacular view of Penom de Alhucemas which is a Spanish owned island few meters off the coast.
Al Hoceima is also growing in popularity for the processing of precious coral jewelry. It has given the goldsmiths art anew impetus. Fishing is also popular and you can see several fishing boats through the day and night catching fish.
You may also take one of these boats on rent to take a ride along the jagged coast. As you ride the boats you can go to the Bokkoyas that are some inaccessible bays from landside. If you take dip in the Mediterranean Sea you would be amazed with the red coral reef, which is gaining popularity for coral jewelry.
Accommodation, eat, drink
There are several budget hotel and luxury hotel in Al Hoceima. The luxury hotel Mohammed V is particularly popular with tourist as it is set on the Playa Quemado beach with complete amenities like tennis court, restaurant, cocktail bar and night club. There are some other top end hotels like the Chafarinas Hotel and the Maghreb el Jadid Hotel also which offer clean and spacious, nicely decorated rooms with a great hotel location.
In summers most of the hotels are booked completely with the foreign tourists and the expatriate Moroccans holidaying in Al Hoceima in summers. There are quiet a few western oriented businesses such as pizza parlors, fast food restaurants and clothing stores.
The city of Al Hoceima is the perfect location to unwind and relax. You would simply fall in love with the small town and its friendly and welcoming inhabitants.