Sidi Ifni, Morocco – Spanish Charm & Southern Skies
Along Morocco’s southern coast, past the European throngs that fill Agadir is calm, quiet, and secluded Sidi Ifni. Driving along the coastal highway, you will definitely not want to skip Tiznit. But if you have only got a few days to travel to the Souss region of Morocco, then pull yourself away from the modernity of Agadir in order to spend at least two days exploring the Sidi Ifni area.
Passing over the cliffs just north of the town, it would be literally impossible to miss this once Spanish enclave. In fact, from the 1930s until 1969, it was considered a Spanish colony, and Moroccans living there at the time were all granted Spanish citizenship. Sidi Ifni in Morocco is full of colonial architecture, but hasn’t been maintained over the years as other cities, such as Ait Ben Haddou, which have gained UNESCO World Heritage Site seals of protection. While numerous organizations feel that Sidi Ifni deserves such a title, others believe it can maintain its special charm and still have plenty of travelers who stop through without being a UNESCO site.
Sidi Ifni, also known as just Ifni by locals and travelers who have been in the area awhile, is one area where Moorish Art Deco was the prominent fashion of the day. In the inspiring area, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful ocean-side scenery without too much hassle from touts or people selling their wares. And, just like in any foreign land where tourism booms, it’s always best not to roam the outskirts after dark, especially if you are a lone traveler. But, your guard will come down once you arrive to this relaxing small Moroccan enclave.
In the middle of town is the Plaza Espana, where the once Spanish Governor would be able to look upon from his mansion, which is the centerpiece of the town. Also in the center of town, but closer to the sea is a historic colonial church where the devout Spanish colonists would attend Sunday mass. Modern mosques also adorn the city’s outskirts, as the church is no longer in much use. If you follow a river from the coast to the marabout complex, you’ll be able to venture to the area where the moussem or town festival is held each summer.
The festival generally takes place in June each year and runs for an entire week. It is the pride and joy of the local townsfolk and music, food, and Saharan activity abound. The festival takes place in the former Spanish airfield and the timing of the event couldn’t be more perfect – not too many Moroccan tourists will be in the area and the weather will be delightful.
Along the beach, you can join a local soccer match or simply walk along the shore. While some surfers and travelers do enjoy the surf, it should be reserved for those with plenty of experience. The waves can become enormous without a moment’s notice and there are some strong under currents.
If you are interested in learning more about the Art Deco period, head towards the Place Hassan II. While the church is now a courthouse and the once Spanish consulate sits empty next to the Hotel de Ville, Sidi Ifni still has plenty of activities, sights, scents, and events to beckon any traveler wanting to see one of Morocco’s smaller towns with lots of charm, character and history.