About 15 kilometres from laayoune, along the Smara road, and before the road starts climbing up towards Ad Cheira, there is a small oasis that can be visited, it's the Oasis L'Messeied. There are some traditional tents where tea will be served.
If you are interested it is also possible to stay overnight at the oasis in tents equipped with camp mattresses of foam, blankets, sheets and pillows with cases - and somewhere I read that there are also three chemical toilet cabins and two cold shower/dressing rooms (to be fair, I did not see them anywhere).
The oasis is a wonderfully quiet place - we might want to spend a couple of relaxing days if we are ever to return to this part of the world.
The Flaming lake is not called Flamingo lake at all - it is not called in any way... somehow people forgot to give this beautiful spot a name - and yet it's such a beautiful sight to behold. Sometimes it's a lake, sometimes it's a couple of small lakes - the most striking blue water among sand dunes - and some very green vegetation around it.
I call it Flamingo lake because it's a place where white flamingos are often to be seen - which was not the case on the day we went there. It's really just on the outskirts of town - so theorethically you coud just walk along the road (airport road) until you see the lake in the distance. It shouldn't take longer than 30/40 minutes to get there. or a couple of dirhams by taxi.
the "western" sahara desert
All around Laayoune... there's the mighty Sahara desert... endless views of sand dunes interspersed with some low bushes and rocky parts. Anywhere is a great place to vist - and it there for a while, looking at nothing (well, sand, actually), in silence and think about how small we are.
Unless it's enough for you to see the desert by the side of the road, you'll need a car with driver to get out there in the middle of nowhere. There are some tracks, but they are not always evident - and because the area is heavily mined, you'll really need someone with a local knowledge who knows where (or where not) to go.
Miles and miles untouched sand and blue waters which screams to be swum in - one should really go there in summer, not in winter - when it's a pleasant place to take a stroll but where you don't want to linger too long because of the wind.
Laayoune beach is located in Laayoune Plage - about 25/30 kilometres from Laayuone town. While Laayoune Plage is quite an ugly sight in terms of buildings and houses, its beach is truly stunning, and deserted.
Just off the beach, in the distance, you can see some tents - in this area there are still a couple of families living in their traditional style.
Seguiat al Hamraik
Seguiat al Hamraik is the name gives to the seasonal river flowing a few kilometres outside Laayoune town, not towards the coast but inland from the city. In december 2007 it was still possible to see it, even though in places it was only a little bit more than a stream.
In other places it looked like a stream surrounded by some very green vegetation - which we were told it was the place where the river ran underground, just under the surface... so technically the buses were the river, not bushes.
A good place to see it is by taking the Smara road from Laayoune: right after the oasis, and before the road starts climbing towards Ad Cheira, you'll be crossing the Seguiat al Hamraik. There's a little bridge over it, so you shouldn't really worry about getting stuck with your car.
the Port of Laayoune
The Port of Laayoune lies about 25 kilometres from Laayoune town - and it's quinte an interesting sight. Interesting, I wrote, not beautiful... still it's the place to go if you want to see more sardines that you could ever imagine.
The port is huge, and busy... everywhere you can see fishing boats downloading sardines - only sardines and nothing else. Zillions of them, literally... and hundreds of trucks ready to transport them somewhere else.
It's possible to vist the port, and even to take photographs... There's obviously a sort of border post, where you are supposed to surrender I'm not sure what document (not the passport, though - since it's the first thing we handed him). The guard did not speak a word of any foreign language, we did not speak a word of Arabic.
Eventually - as our communication skills were getting us nowhere - with a smile he decided we'd surrender our passport, but to be honest he was not exactly pointing at it, but at the airline miles card we had in it. Go figure.