After crossing the rocky and forlorn expanses of the hamada (stony desert) south from Tarfaya, the Western Saharan city of Dakhla is an appealingly relaxed destination. A constant feature is the cobalt intensity of the Atlantic Ocean, softened here by palm trees, a pleasant oceanfront esplanade and a shallow island-studded lagoon.
The region's recent Spanish past echoes languidly in cafes and restaurants, while one of the world's best kiteboarding scenes attracts international visitors seeking a more energetic Western Saharan experience.
Occasional roadblocks on the fringes of the desert reinforce this is a disputed region, despite what is indicated by the Moroccan flags shifting in tropical breezes.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Western Sahara.