Camel rides, riads, tagines—and surf school?One family’s grand Moroccan adventure.

“No, no, no. It’s too dangerous. Uh-uh.” That was my husband’s reaction when I first brought up Morocco as a holiday destination. But I liked the idea of our kids—Jules, 12, and Manon, 8—experiencing a culture completely different from their own. Over the next few months, Philippe came around.

We started off in the seaside village of Oualidia, two hours south of Casablanca. I signed the kids up for lessons at a little surf school where they ended up catching the waves every day. Their instructors, all locals, became our first link to the country’s culture. When the children weren’t in the water, they were devouring tagines at a market stand, and freshly caught seafood—mussels, crabs, sea urchin—on the beach.

From Oualidia we traveled to Marrakesh, where we spent our days in the labyrinthine souks, shopping and haggling amid the crowds, then retreating to the calm of Riad Chorfa, a traditional inn built around a courtyard. In the evenings we ventured out to Djemaa el-Fna, the medina’s main square, which was filled with long communal tables and stalls selling grilled kebabs and vegetables. After dinner, we wandered amid the plaza’s storytellers, musicians, and games.

Our final stop was Essaouira, a laid-back coastal town of whitewashed buildings, dramatic views, and a popular beach offering horse and camel rides. On our last day, we went to a hammam, or public bath, for a thorough scrubbing and sloughing. Afterward, Manon said dreamily, “Let’s come back tomorrow.”

Or maybe next year. In the meantime, I’m thrilled that we discovered Morocco together as a family, and that the kids have come to see the world a little differently. I couldn’t really ask for more than that.


Hôtel-Restaurant l’Initiale

212-23/366-246; doubles from $62, including breakfast.




Riad Chorfa

212-24/443-005;; doubles from $70, including breakfast.


Résidence El Mehdi

212-62/824-777;; doubles from $64, including breakfast.


For customized family trips to Morocco, contact Heritage Tours Private Travel (800/378-4555;; from $12,000 for a 10-day trip for a family of four).