While most people spend their summer in the sweltering heat of the city or jammed into popular beach resorts, a clever few have discovered one of Tunisia’s best-kept secrets: it’s wild, uncrowded beaches. Some are isolated and hard to get to, even with a car. Others are tucked away on the doorstep of large cities and it takes a local to explain how to get to them.
Since the 1960s, a large percentage of Tunisian people have settled in many of the coastal cities. In fact, the top four most populated cities – Tunis, Sfax, Sousse and Nabeul – are all coastal cities. The economic boom in the 1970s led to the building of many large hotels along the coastline and to the development of big industries in these populated cities. The new industries have negatively affected water and air quality along much of the coastline.
Despite this, only 18% of 1200km of Tunisian coastline has been developed. While the focus of development has been on eastern coastal cities, the northwestern regions have been largely overlooked. This means that although these regions remain relatively undeveloped, they boast some of the most pristine beaches for visitors who want to get off the beaten track. Luckily, many of these beaches are also easy to get to by car.
Today, car owners can easily escape the heat of Tunis. A trip to the virgin lands of the north west is a wonderful way to get away. The A3 highway and main roads connect these near-virgin lands to Tunis.
From Bizerte to the Tunisian-Algerian border, an amazing belt of green landscape can be visited. The strip starts at Cap Serrat and reaches all the way to Cap Roux, a few kilometers from the Tunisian-Algerian border. A cork oak forest lines the coastline and hidden coves wait to be discovered. If you are the adventurous type, camping out on the beach is always an option, but be sure to not sleep in the forests, as they are very delicate. Also, the homemade bread that vendors sell on the side of the road is delicious and highly recommended.
Southeast Beaches If you want to explore the gorgeous southeastern coastline, there are many beautiful beaches that might tickle your fancy.
The village of Metouia – some 10 km north of Gabes – contains a peaceful maritime oasis that is only a short car ride away. The beach in the village is a particular gem because it is one of the only in Tunisia to be backed by a maritime oasis. The village came into existence because of its proximity to a spring of water and still remains untouched by touristic development. The village population is barely 9000, but it increases to about 45,000 every summer after the return of the Tunisians who pass most of their year in Europe. With so many people in summer, this can hardly be described as undiscovered, however out of season visitors should be able to find their own private piece of sand.
Ras-Ermal Peninsula in the south east of Tunisia is the most frequented wild beach in the Tunisian south. It’s located on the island of Djerba. Visitors may contact the organizers in the marina of Houmet Essouk to organize a trip to the beach. It’s known for the flamingos that come to nest there every year. The peninsula is marshy with salt-wort vegetation. Usually the boats that take the travelers dock near a large beach. If you are lucky, you might see some dolphins on the way. Usually, visitors spend around two hours discovering the island. An entertaining program is arranged that includes a traditional fish lunch and local music.