The East Coast
Port El Kantaoui Travel Guide
Tunisia © Dennis Jarvis
*In June 2015, a terrorist attack took place at Port El Kantaoui in which a number of foreign tourists were killed. Security has been dramatically increased at resorts in this region and tourists are advised to pay close attention to travel warnings and recommendations from official government sources before travel to Tunisia.*
One could be forgiven for imagining that the quaint blue and white holiday village of Port El Kantaoui had been built as a Hollywood stage set and simply uprooted and plonked down on the Tunisian coast, flanked by two long stretches of perfect clean sandy beaches. In fact, this is not far from the truth: El Kantaoui is a chic, purpose-built holiday resort, which owes nothing to history, but everything to catering for the up-market tourist, seeking leisurely luxury in an enchanting setting.
The El Kantaoui complex is built around a modern marina, which can accommodate more than 300 vessels, most of them moored by millionaires. Its complex of hotels centres on the cobblestone streets of the perfect reproduction of a typical medieval medina, abuzz during the day with souvenir hunters. In the evening the action switches to the bars and cafes opposite the marina. The entire town has been termed a 'tourist ghetto', but it is indeed a delightful and highly successful one, enhanced by its Mediterranean location and Moorish flavour.
Like the entire resort, the shopping centre and model 'souk' in Port El Kantaoui is geared to holidaymakers, stocking mainly souvenir items with prices higher than elsewhere in Tunisia. Bargaining for goods is an entertaining experience, however. For better bargains and a more realistic Tunisian bazaar experience take an excursion to nearby Sousse.
El Kantaoui bristles with excellent restaurants serving all sorts of cuisine and holidayakers will not be disappointed. Most of the best restaurants are fronting the Marina in the form of high class, sophisticated eateries, serving up traditional specialities and local favourites. Prices are modest by European standards, but higher than elsewhere in Tunisia.
Nightlife is low key, but most holidaymakers can find something to their taste whether it be simply lingering over a delicious meal, sipping drinks at a waterfront cafe or enjoying the in-house entertainment at one of the hotels. There is also a casino about five minutes away.
In the holiday resort of Port El Kantaoui, a variety of boat trips are offered from the Marina, whether it is pleasure cruises, glass-bottomed boat tours, fishing expeditions or dolphin viewing experiences. The close proximity of the older, more established resort town of Sousse, just six miles (10km) away, means that visitors can enjoy the best of both worlds and travel by the local 'Noddy Train' between the two, sampling the beaches and watersports on offer.
The two resorts also share two golf courses. Other pursuits include quad biking, horse riding and beach camel rides, as well as a variety of excursions to choose from like shopping trips to Tunis, expeditions to view the Roman ruins at Carthage, the pretty village of Sidi Bou Said, or an evening in the desert at a Bedouin Feast.
Port El Kantaoui is often over-crowded, and more expensive than the other holiday resorts in Tunisia. There are no facilities here for budget travellers because most hotels are top-rated establishments.