Coming from the Rif, AL HOCEIMA can be a bit of a shock. It may not be quite the “exclusive international resort” the tourist board claims, but it is truly Mediterranean and has developed enough to have little in common with the farming hamlets and tribal markets of the surrounding mountains. Relaxed and friendly throughout the year, Al Hoceima is at its best in late spring or September, when the beaches are quiet and not so crowded under the midsummer weight of Moroccan families and French and German tourists.
Al Hoceima was developed by the Spanish after their counteroffensive in the Rif in 1925, and was known by them as Villa Sanjuro. The name commemorated the Spanish general José Sanjuro, who landed in the bay, under the cover of Spanish and French warships, with an expeditionary force. Coincidentally, it was at Al Hoceima, too, that then Crown Prince Hassan led Moroccan forces to quell the Riffians’ revolt in 1958, following independence.
Al Hoceima’s compact size is one of its charms. Until the 1950s, it consisted of just a small fishing port to the north of the bay, and a fringe of white houses atop the barren cliffs to the south. At the heart of this older quarter is the atmospheric Place du Rif, enclosed by café-restaurants and pensions.Read More
Al Hoceima National Park
Al Hoceima National Park
The Al Hoceima National Park, the entrance to which is on the N16 about 20km east of Al Hoceima, is a fantastic spot for walking and mountain biking. Covering 285 square kilometres, the park’s majestic rocky canyons and pine forests harbour several rare species of birds and reptiles as well as jackals and wild boar. As well as three accessible bird hides, 30km of well-marked tracks crisscross the park, most negotiable by a tourist vehicle, and you can also scramble down to a few isolated beaches where you may be lucky enough to spot dolphins. A few Berber settlements are dotted around the park, where you can see traditional crafts such as pottery and basket weaving in action. Accommodation is offered in four attractive gîtes (houses), sleeping between two and twelve people and with a kitchen and hot water (200–400dh), which can be organized by the very helpful Anissa el Khattabi (t 0662 101279) who can also arrange guides and suggest itineraries. Without your own transport, you’ll have to take a grand taxi from Al Hoceima (about 150dh). For more on the park, see w rodpal.org.