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Port El Kantaoui shoreline in the spring

© Creative Commons / eugenijusr

Port el-Kantaoui beaches

Port el-Kantaoui is one of Tunisia's most popular beach destinations. Modelled on the French Riviera's Port-Grimaud, the resort is built in Andalucian-Moorish style around a huge marina. The Mediterranean jet set love to be seen here with their flashy yachts, while the buzzing waterfront is lined with restaurants, cocktail bars and swanky boutiques. This upmarket resort has little to do with Tunisia, but that is one of the reasons Tunisians love it, and perhaps why so many visitors never leave it.

Beach

The wide stretch of beach north of the marina is more beautiful than the famous beach of Boujaffar between Port el-Kantaoui and Sousse. Lined with hotels, the beach is mostly private, but there are some good public stretches too. Mock pirate ships and colourful fishing boats take tourists from the marina along the coast to swim in deeper waters or fish. Plenty of watersports facilities are available including pedalos, paragliding, windsurfing, water-skiing and jet-skis. Several hotels along the beach and the diving centre on the edge of the marina near the boat yards offer open-water diving courses. Glass-bottom boats take trips from the marina to see the local fish life.

Beyond the beach

After the sun goes down, the waterfront is the place to be, with a good choice of bars, ice cream parlours, restaurants and shops. On top of that, the yachts in the marina are worth a close look, and the new medina makes for a pleasant stroll. There are two excellent 18-hole golf courses, horse riding and tennis courts.

Family fun

Port el-Kantaoui is particularly family friendly and the Aqua Palace (rue des Palmiers) delights children with slides and wave pools. Smaller children will also appreciate the small zoo and the shady aromatic garden in the marina. Hannibal Park (route des Touristes) is an amusement park with a good rollercoaster, fairy-tale rides and a playground for children. The Hergla Karting Park (route de Tunis) is another popular amusement park with more adventurous rides.

Exploring further

Nearby Sousse has a fine medina with the best souks in the country, an 8th-century ribat (fortress), several funduqs (inns) and an excellent archaeological museum (avenue du Maréchal) with a superb collection of Roman mosaics. The small private Museum Dar es-Sid (65 rue du Rempart) gives an insight in how a well-off family lived, with a pleasant cafe on the roof. Monastir has a well-preserved ribat and a picturesque medina. Kairouan is the fourth holiest city in Islam and its Grand Mosque is the oldest in North Africa. It has retained more of its character than the coastal cities, and makes for a pleasant day trip.

Splashing out

Le Méditerranée (www.lemediterranee.com.tn) on the southern edge of the marina, stands out above the other restaurants, but it comes at a price. The magnificent blue dining room overlooks the marina. The long menu has both Tunisian and international specialities, and the service is very attentive. Reservations are recommended.

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