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Asilah: Culture, Art, Beaches, & Festivals Galore Morocco (pt 1)

Coming across the boat from Spain into Tangier, you might immediately be presented with Morocco's worst – touts, faux guides (false guides), and taxi drivers claiming that they will give you a deal, wherever you are heading. While Tangier and the surrounding areas of the port need to be swept clean to offer a better introduction into exotic Morocco, about 30 miles (45km) away lies the tranquil port of Asilah.

Much like its sister beach town of Essaouira on the middle-southern coast of the Atlantic, Asilah is a jewel of the northern coastline. Getting here from Tangier will take some searching because you are going to want to leave the port area and head to the train, bus or big taxi station. The ride should only take and hour and cost no more than 30 Dirhams or US$3.50. The ride in the small taxi to either of the above-mentioned should cost you about 1/3 less.

Asilah rightly boasts about one of the gems of their town: the clean and laid-back medina lined with galleries and white-washed houses. Even with a few seedy touts just outside its walls ready to wheel and deal for a place to sleep or for hashish, the cultural and artistic vibe that radiates from the town is alluring. And, it has been alluring to both foreigners, mainly the European, and Moroccans for some time.

Asilah's second gem is the beach, just north of town. The beach, which goes on seemingly for miles gets plenty of tourists each year who are beckoned here to surf, swim, and just relax. If you come in August, you'll find a place to stay, but don't expect even a bed to be cheap. Otherwise, anytime of year, you'll most likely be able to find a hotel room at a great price, or you'll even be able to camp at one of the few campgrounds along the shoreline. If you are caught in Asilah in the summer, it is best to head to one of the neighboring beaches; the most popular being Paradise Beach just a few kilometers south of Asilah. The city beaches of Asilah are crowded and cater very much to the 'tourist'. Paradise Beach; however, has always seem to live up to its name and hasn't been developed in the least. While in the summer Paradise Beach will have plenty of people, it will not have nearly as many as those who stay near the town of Asilah. However, this year six villages in the villages along Paradise Beach will be hosting the 'Rythms of Peace' Festival. This festival encourages youth from Morocco and abroad to exchange their views on peace while listening to some of the country's best traditional and contemporary trance music. The dates of the festival will be from August 17 to 22 with a price tag of 1000 Dirhams or $115 US.

This was Part 1 of 2 of this article. Please check back next week for Part 2.



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