Set at the edge of the Moroccan Sahara Desert, the charming city of Dakhla in Morocco has always been a favorite destination for water sports lovers. But this isn’t all about Dakhla! The eerily quiet town in North Africa has much more to offer to its visitors other than harnessing the power of the wind. So, let’s discover what Dakhla is hiding for us.
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Dakhla Morocco at Glance
Dakhla is located in the South-westhern part of Morocco, an area which is known internationally as Western Sahara. This part has, for several years, been a disputed region between the Moroccan State and a seperatist group, the Polisario Front. However, recently the Sahara was finally recognized as Moroccan territory by the United States.
This might sound like Dakhla is a war territory and maybe you are hesitant to visit this area but trust me, Dakhla is a very safe place and even though there is a long-standing dispute in the region, there was never any sign of war or military disruption in this city.
In this post, we are not going to focus on the politics and history of Dakhla. We hope to illustrate that this spectacular city is definitely worth a visit. We also believe that tourism in Dakhla and the region as a whole, will be great for all the people who live there. There we go, are you ready to meet Dakhla?
Is it Safe to Visit Dakhla?
This question is very popular when it comes to Dakhla trips ,especially among foreign tourists. That’s why I would like to talk about it a little bit more in this post.
My sister lived in Dakhla for almost a year. She never felt unsafe in any way and that’s what encouraged us to give it a go. Dakhla feels like any other city in Morocco where of course it’s advisable to avoid certain places and times (like late at night) when going out.
Morocco maintains a military presence in Dakhla, so this keeps things relatively quiet and safe. With regard to the desert regions currently controlled by the Polisario, we have no knowledge of whether it is safe or well suited for tourism.
How to Get to Dakhla?
Dakhla is a small city located at the junction of the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean, forming an island-like city with a population of roughly 106 000. The city is located 530 Kilometers north of Laayoune and about 400 Kilometers from the Mauritanian borders. basically, it’s 100s of kilometeres from everywhere.
-How do I get to Dakhla? A trip to Dakhla can be pretty far and expensive if you are visiting from North or East Morocco. But it is worth it and you should visit it at least once in a lifetime. So, let’s see how we can get to Dakhla!
You can reach Dakhla via land from the North (Morocco) or the South (Mauritania). From Morocco, there are bus services, CTM and Supratours that run between Dakhla and major cities in Morocco -like Casablanca and Marrakech. The ticket price is about $50 to $60 and the trip can be quite long and tiring (about 24+ hours).
I’ve heard that crossing the borders from Mauritania is quite a standard process. I personally did not experience it but I don’t think this would be a problem.
For me, the best way to get to Dakhla is by plane. Both international and national flights are available to visit Dakhla. There are regular Royal Air Maroc flights from Casablanca and Marrakech and if you are visiting from another city in Morocco you will probably take a connection flight in one of these cities .
International flights are also available from France, Germany and sometimes the Canary Islands, directly to Dakhla airport. Dakhla airport is located in a walkable distance (about 20 minutes) from the town center, and just 5 minutes by car from everywhere in the city.
If you are an avid driver and adventurer, taking a 2 day road trip to Dakhla is also possible. But you might want to keep in mind that the roads are not what you will expect. Dakhla is a desert city and most of the roads are not paved, sometimes they don’t exist at all. Also, don’t rely solely on your GPS to travel as the connection might be a bit of a problem there. So, unless you consider yourself an expert in adventures, I won’t recommend taking a road trip to Dakhla.
Best Time to Visit Dakhla
The best time to visit Dakhla is from January to December, when the beautiful city has hot, dry weather with limited rainfall. Dakhla’s highest average temperature is 27°C in August and the lowest is 21°C in February.
Dakhla offers a dry climate almost all year round with 318 dry days a year and an average humidity of 63%. The daytime temperature can be warm to hot, while it can also be cold at night.
Dakha is a year-round destination, with an average temperature of 25°C. However, the main thing to watch out for is dehydration and a constant dry and dusty wind during the spring and winter that can really take its toll on you.
Where to Stay in Dakhla?
Dakhla town is very small and it doesn’t really matter where you stay. You can either book a hotel in the city center or the surfing hub.
Dakhla town accommodation
- Bab Al Bahar Hotel & Spa
- Guesthouse Dar Rio Oro
Dakhla windsurf resorts and hotels
- Ocean Vagabond
- Dakhla Attitude
How to Get Around Dakhla?
Dakhla is a very small desert town and getting around is pretty easy and quick, so you need not worry about getting lost. You can literally walk from the airport to the city center (about 20 minutes). However, you might want to take a taxi if you are planning to visit places along the outskirts of the city such as the lighthouse or beach.
Taxis are easy to find in and around the city. Sometimes you might have to wait a little bit but they are not hard to find. The ride is usually shared with other people as the driver keeps picking up and dropping off people along the way. If you are traveling in the town you will pay around $1.5. For a trip to the popular windsurfing areas and the beach, you should negotiate the price in advance.
Unless you are a very brave explorer, hiring a car or a 4×4 in Dakhla wouldn’t be recommended. Dakhla has empty intersections and very few vehicles on the streets.
Kitesurfing in Dakhla
Dakhla is an internationallly renowned destination for kitesurfing. In recent years, the city was able to classify itself as one of most visited cities for water activities with more than 100 000 visitors every year. Even though Dakhla is now a touristic hub, the wild side of it is still clearly visible which makes it a more unique and an attractive destination to visit.
Its beaches have world class waves and a perfect climate with more than 330 windy days a year that attract surfers and water-sport lovers. Dakhla has some of the best year round windy Kite spots that can keep up with the world’s best locations.
In the Dakhla lagoon, Known as “Pointe de Dragon” waves are impressive and the most famous surfers have come in droves to experience these spectacular thrilling and exciting water activities.
This place is perfect for all levels, beginner, intermediate and professional. If you are a beginner or a stranger to kitesurfing, you can take courses given by certified and multilingual instructors found in the many windsurfing clubs in the area.
Things to Do in Dakhla Except Kitesurfing?
You might have heard there is nothing much to do in Dakhla except surfing. That’s absolutely wrong! Dakhla can be a complete change of scenery and a peculiar travel experience for inquisitive travelers. Here are my top things to do in the town when you’re not windsurfing.
1. Visit Dakhla town Souq
Visit the small souk in the town to pick up some Moroccan souvenirs. Melhfas are one of these souvenirs to take back home with you. Melhfa is a one big piece of fabric, exactly 4 meters that Sahraoui women wrap their bodies in as a dress. Another souvenir to buy from the Souk is the Sahraoui loose tea to make your original Moroccan tea at home.
2. Drink the Sahrawi tea
Even if you are not a tea fan, you have to experience the process of making tea in the Sahara. And since you are going to visit Dakhla, this is a must! Basically, making tea in the desert isn’t as quick as making it elsewhere. It may take up to an hour waiting before taking our first sip and you will be surprised at the taste! Trust me you will want to do this.
3. Explore the desert in a 4×4
Hire 4×4 with a driver and go discover the untouched desert and cost of Dakhla’s surroundings. Go beyond the recommended and let the surreal nature impress you.
4. Play Golf
You wouldn’t think of Golf as a thing to do in Dakhla right?. But yes, you can. Just 15 minutes away from Dakhla, you can find the ecological Rio de Oro golf club. 34 hectares of natural lawn to enjoy a long day of golfing. The club is located on a beautiful and unique landscape just between the desert and the sea. The golf course is adapted to all levels from beginners to professionals.
5. Take a Catamaran excursion to the Dragon Island
I think you are wondering why this island is known as the Dragon Island. Were Dragons living in Dakhla? Pretty funny, I asked the same thing when I first heard about it. This Island in the middle of a lagoon was called this way because of its shape that looks like a dragon. Take a close look at the picture! The dragon is lying peacefully on its stomach.
So, the catamaran excursion to the island is a must when you visit Dakhla. A great way to not only enjoy the landscapes from the island but also you have a high chance to sport some cute dolphins on the way. “Dolphins and dragons!” pretty fun isn’t it?
Dakhla is not your typical holiday destination in Morocco. That is precisiely why you should consider going there. If you are into water-sport, it’s ideal. If you are not, then Dakhla is the best place to learn how to surf. Alternatively, Dakhla provides a traffic and crowd free holiday with great beaches and desert tour options.
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