The Delightful Fishing Town of Dakhla
The city of Dakhla, situated on the Atlantic coastline of Morocco-administered Western Sahara, with its lovely white houses, fascinating architecture, ancient history and friendly people, is a popular destination for tourists. The majority of the residents of Dakhla rely on fishing to provide a living and by mid afternoon each day, sections of the beach are scattered with fishing vessels in all shapes, sizes and colors, with fishermen offloading the results of their day’s work.
Dakhla was founded in 1502 by Spanish settlers, and was at that time known as Villa Cisneros. During the colonial period, from the mid 1800s into the early 1900s, Dakhla was declared the capital of Rio de Oro, one of the two Spanish Saharan regions. The Spanish built a military fortress and a Catholic cathedral during this time, both of which remain as tourist attractions to this day. Dakhla was also home to a prison camp during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. From 1975 to 1979, Dakhla was the capital of the Mauritanian province of Tiris al-Gharbiyya, but after a lengthy dispute regarding governance of the territory, in 1991 Western Sahara was incorporated into Morocco.
Visitors to Dakhla can spend many enjoyable hours walking through the city that, although not being very large, has a maze of streets winding through markets, commercial zones and residential areas, which are interesting to explore. Numerous little cafés offer refreshments and local cuisine to fortify tourists during their exploration of the city. Dakhla boasts some superb Spanish relics, including the Catholic cathedral with its beautiful park.
Outside of the town, and visible from most areas of Dakhla, an old Spanish lighthouse rises up from a tiny cape. The walk to the lighthouse from Dakhla is fairly long, and visitors need to climb 240 steps to reach the top, but all this effort is rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding areas, including Dakhla and the many fishing boats dotted around the Atlantic Ocean.
Dakhla offers accommodation to suit most travelers’ budgets, as well as a serviced camping area north of the city that is very popular, especially among back-packers. Certainly, Dakhla is a very interesting city for tourists to visit when exploring exotic Morocco.