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Hitch a ride along Djerba's beaches on a camel

© Creative Commons / alex and mac

Djerba beaches

Djerba has an inviting year round climate and stunning sandy beaches, plus the more recent addition of some excellent hotels. All of the resort hotels are situated in the Zone Touristique on the northeast coast, meaning the towns have managed to retain their original character.

Beach

Djerba is blessed with soft sandy beaches and a clear turquoise sea. The best beaches are on the northeast coast, but most are privately owned by the resort hotels in the Zone Touristique, with the exception of a few stretches such as the Plage des 5,000 Ans (Beach of 5,000 Years), 8km (5 miles) from Houmt Souk, and, further on, the Plage Municipale (Municipal Beach). The quieter beaches are between Aghir and el-Kantara.All the hotels offer a wide variety of watersports including wind-surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and pedalos.

Beyond the beach

The white-washed town of Houmt Souk, with its narrow alleys of souks and souvenir shops, has interesting Djerban architecture, particularly the mosques and the funduqs (inns). The Museum of Popular Arts (rue avenue Abdelhamid el-Kadhi) allows an insight into the island's traditions. A 25-minute walk from the centre is the picturesque fishing port, which is at its busiest early morning.

The true soul of the island lies inland. The Synagogue of el-Ghriba in er-Riadh, 7km (4 miles) south of Houmt Souk, is the oldest in North Africa, and it contains what is presumed to be the world's oldest Torah. Guellala has an interesting Folkloric Museum and several potteries. The island's second largest town, Midoun, is a quieter and smaller version of Houmt Souk.

Family fun

All the resorts are family orientated, and children love shopping in the colourful souks. A visit to Borj el-Kebir, Houmt Souk's fort, captures the imagination as the stronghold of the Turkish pirate Dragut and his men. Every Tuesday afternoon a traditional fantasia (horse show) is organised at the amphitheatre of Midoun. Djerba Explore (www.djerbaexplore.com), near Aghir, is a large tourist complex with a fine museum of Islamic arts, a crocodile park, a heritage zone and several restaurants and shops.

Exploring further

The region around Tataouine has several ruined hilltop villages with ksour (fortified strongholds), including Ksar Haddada, the old village of Guermessa and the most picturesque of all, Chenini. Medenine has a Sunday market and a few abandoned ksour in its surroundings. Slightly further away is Matmata with its troglodyte dwellings that featured in Star Wars.

Splashing out

The Dar Dhiafa hotel (www.hoteldardhiafa.com) in the village of er-Riadh stands out from all others on the island. This small luxurious hotel with 10 individually decorated rooms and four suites occupies some traditional houses in the village. It has two swimming pools, a hammam (Turkish bath) and an excellent restaurant.

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