La Corniche, Casablanca
The coastal area south of Casablanca, is a resort zone named Corniche.
Too rocky to my taste, we got there a bad weather and a rough sea. That left us a negative impression, in contrast with the heavy construction of playful facilities in the coast, suggesting a quality that... we didn't notice.
Maybe in a second visit...
No chance to change my mind in our second visit. Maybe in the third!
After leaving Fes my next destination was Marrakesh, rather a long six-hour train journey, so I decided to break it in Casablanca and as the weather was hot I could rest on the Corniche beach for a day trip on the tram. The new trams are becoming very busy especially on Fridays and Saturdays and at the carstop at Casa Voyageurs railway station the supervising agent was having difficulty preventing intending passengers barging for the crowded carriages. In the evening I enjoyed my usual soiree in the Cafe des Negociants, the coffee machine was broken, but no problem, there was plenty of Flag and Stork beer or strong Toulal wine for determined drinkers!
Towards closing time I took a walk around the city centre, the famous clock tower in United Nations square is now illuminated in red, an impressive sight.
Next day I went on the tram to Ain Diab Corniche, it was hot and the beach was busy with surfers, swimmers and sunbathers, after a long walk along the esplanade I noticed the Marabout of Sidi Abderahman, I had missed this shrine on my visit last year, built on an outcrop of rock, it was previously only accessible at low tide, but is now connected to the shore by a new bridge, so I went out to look around. The shrine attracts Muslims afflicted by nervous disorders or evil spells, but only open to Muslims, so I walked around what was just a tiny village consisting of a couple of small shops and an animal pen where goats and chickens were fed and watered. I noticed two musicians and a Henna session ongoing so I paid ten dirhams for a picture.
A pleasant day trip in the hot sun.
As you have no doubt read in my travelogue, hubby and I enjoyed our stroll along the beachfront in Casablanca.
This is a popular spot for the local families as well. There are pools on the beachfront and an array of nice beachside cafes and you'll find Maccas there as well.
Sidi Abdel Rahman is a stretch of beach next to Ain Diab and it includes a rocky island. So who was Sidi Abdel Rahman? He is considered by Moroccan to be the Patron saint of the mentally retarded and epileptics. He was nicknamed (Almajthoob) which means mentally retarded in Arabic.
Moroccans believe that this man has special healing powers for the mentally retarded so you might see families with children having all sorts of problems from Epilepsy to Down syndrome offering gifts and prayers in hope of healing their loved ones from their ailments. The room housing the tomb is very small and I was barely able to take a picture, which made People very upset. I had to show them these pictures and they asked me to delete some before they let me leave. It is interesting to know that this person -Sidi Abdel Rahman- has more than one grave and other places like Meknas claim to be his real burial site.
Sidi Abdel Rahman is very significant site because of the Archeological finding. A cave excavated in the area reveled one of the oldest sites of human or "humanoid" presence. Although they are not as old as lucy but a 500 thousand year "humanoid" skull is still pretty impressive. The caves also had human tools and remains of a bear which disappeared long time ago from the Africa. If you visit today, These Caves are located one km in land and are difficult to locate although I haven’t tried to contact any one for further help.
If you visit during the summer, you’ll see crowds of people swimming, sun bathing, sitting in cafes, playing football (soccer), and just walking around. There was a little fare ground with games and stuff for kids to do. There are plenty of restaurants nearby including a KFC, McDonald and other restaurants and Hotels. This area is full people up to mid night although I wouldn’t go to the island in the dark. The Island is a spooky place. you can walk to rocky island during low tide. the tomb of sidi Abdel Rahman and enjoy the beaches.without any problem.
For a walk on a proper stretch of beach, meaning actual sand and not just beach clubs built on the cliffs, you need to head a kilometre or so further on from the lighthouse, to Ain Diab, a trendy beachside suburb where city dwellers flock at weekends to drink in cafes overlooking the water, play beach football on the sand, and paddle in the shallows. The first patch of decent sand is just below the golden arches of McDonalds, an incredibly popular destination judging by all the burger wrappers on the beach. We clambered onto the rocks for a slice of Moroccan city beach life. Shirtless men played beach tennis, while groups of headscarf wearing girls watched, high heels dangling at their sides. Families ate burgers and ice creams while their kids investigated the rockpools. A couple of joggers competed with a few dogs to be the fastest on the sands. And rubbish, rubbish everywhere. Why why why why why?! There were bins on the concrete paths at the back, most of them empty. But why throw your pepsi can in a bin when you can leave it on a becah for someone to cut their foot on?! Shame...could be a nice beach.
The road behind the beach is lined with restaurants and cafes, the best ones with excellent views, but all of them quite pricey compared to the city centre. New housing developments are springing up everywhere, luxury apartments and villas, and soon there won't be much beachfront left.
We walked out here, but didn't have the energy for the walk back, so tried to get a taxi. Taxis on a Saturday night heading back to the city centre are few and far between, and there were almost violent scenes when one did turn up, a crowd of beachgoers trying to hurl themselves into the backstreet while stopping everyone else from doing the same. We gave up and started walking...and walking...and walking...but eventually it paid off, and an empty taxi appeared out of nowhere. If you hit the busy time, be prepared to fight or to wait a long time!
From the Mosquee Hassan II, another monument stands out at the end of the bay...a lighthouse (menara) on a promontary, something to aim for in your seaside wanderings. What looks quite inviting from afar, is not so nice up close...far from being the upmarket beach suburb I had assumed, the area around the lighthouse is in fact a slum. A friendly slum, but still a slum. Tiny shacks with tin roofs crowd a small area next to the lighthouse, and some city planner has built a wall around them, maybe so the rich and trendy don't have to look at them on their way to their hip Ain Diab beach villas. The lighthouse itself was a bit of a disappointment, as it doesn't really have the fantastic sea views I was expecting. A local who spotted us came to talk, and told us that in summer you can pay to climb the lighthouse, but he also mentioned there wasn't much point!
Right next to the slum is a very posh beach restaurant/club, which takes up most of the actual seafront, meaning those living in the shacks need to climb the hill to be able to see a bit of the ocean. Most of the neighbourhood kids were more interested in riding their bikes at high speed down the steep slope and performing wheelies for the posh people arriving in their flashy cars to eat lobster by the pool. Over the highway, and even odder sight...two elephants grazing in front of a decrepit block of flats. The circus was in town, and attracting large crowds of locals.
The term Corniche applies to the posh bit of seafront over at Ain Diab, two kilometres along the coast beyond the lighthouse, but if you can't be bothered to walk all the way out there, you can still enjoy a walk along the seafront just beneath the Hassan II mosque, despite the uneven surfaces. I'm sure the city authorities will do somthing one day to clean it up a bit, but the views will still be the same, with the mosque seemingly floating on the waves at the end of the bay.
On a warm weekend afternoon, the area was packed with locals, munching on nuts and popcorn and watching the kids leap into the waves from the mosque courtyard. A few bodyboarders were out as well, but you don't have to venture into the sea to get wet...just stand and watch for a few minutes, and a wave will come crashing over your head at some point.
Basic snacks are on sale close to the mosque, popcorn, nuts, chewing gum, snails in broth, and tea. Lots of families brought picnics too, and it would be quite a nice spot, if it weren't for the spray from the ocean, the litter, and the noise from the six-lane highway.
This is a nice area for walking, or just sitting in a cafe and relaxing. It seems far away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown. Cafes, sandy beaches, people watching--a good way to spend a few hours.
Ain Diab is where people of Casablanca go in the summer and on weekends, Wither it is the beach or for night life or just walking around and killing time. People will come here for swimming, sunbathing, playing beach volleyball or beach football (soccer). The beaches are sandy and perfect.
It is only 7 km away from the city center and a red taxi should take you there for 20 DH. There are around 10 hotels, night clubs, and cafe. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food places like KFC and McDonald. There are private and public beaches. Some of the batches are very exclusive. Side Abdelrahman is 2 km away and it worth visiting.
Vinica Ice (see the photo) is a very nice café and it a popular place to sit and watch people. The ice-cream is particularly good and the view of the beaches is good.
Starting from the lighthouse of el-Hank, along the BOULEVARD DE LA CORNICHE, there are beaches and swimming pools, cafés, hotels, restaurants.
The locals love walking there in the evening for some drinks and to breathe the air of the sea. From I955, the Saudi Foundation Ibn Seoud is sheer to the sea and accommodates a mosque, a centre of advanced studies and one most modern library. At the extremity of the Corniche, in the area of the seaside resort Ain Diab, there are the Institute of Talasso-Therapy of Casablanca and the Amusement Park of SINDBAD.
Marabutto of Sidi Ard er-Rahman - On a headland full of rocks, reachable only with the low tide, there are the white graves of people struck by witchcraft or by nervous diseases. Each year, a lot of pilgrims go there in order to have a bath or spend the night.
Anfa - At the back of the Corniche, in the residential area of Anfa, there are the most fabulous villas of the city. In one of those, on the hill, in 1943 there had been the conference of Casablanca, when Churchill and Roosvelt decided the landing of the Army in Normandie and Sicily.
Apparently the Nazis had been advised of a meeting at the " House Blanca ", but they thought it was the White House in Washington:)
In La Corniche, you will find restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, Private Clubs ith pools and bars.
Try to walk and spend a few hours in La Corniche.
There are cinemas and fast food restaurants.
Walking the corniche is agreat way to cool down and for people watching. It seems to be a very popular thing to do in Casa. Also see great views of the Mosque.
There are a few ice cream houses in La Corniche. Ice Cream is very good in Morocco, as pastry. Do not miss both of them.
The beach is not good to sunbath due to the large amount to kids playing football or other sports in the beach.
Hundreds of people running and moving will not give you peaceful time to lay down.