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Tunisia has been conquered, over the centuries, by maritime civilizations, attracted by its strategic location just like nowadays yachtsmen sailing this area both for its beautiful position and its well organized port facilities


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Nautica Magazine 386, June 1994



The most important Mediterranean civilizations, from Phoenicians to Romans and Arabs, considered Tunisia a short of "center access" to the Mediterranean Sea, and have left here a wide range of different historical monuments, not found anywhere else. The Rome and Carthago war is one of the most important events of the west civilization: the Roman empire was able to expand over the entire then known world only after the African's town conquest, which was completely destroyed spreading salt on its walls.

Today Tunisian shoreline has a leading place in the international tourism market thanks to both its strategic position and European investments, which have led to the building of modern holiday resorts and marinas, as well as the restoration of existing historical facilities. The charter activity is well established and several chartering operators, located in the country main ports, offer a wide range of boats. Tunisia, however, can be easily reached from Sicily and the Pelagic islands. Crossing the Sicily channel is just a few hours navigation and Pantelleria island lies right off the Tunisian coast.

Tunisia Sidi Bou Said is a clear example of Tunisiàs strategic location. The village, called the Tunisian Sant Tropez where the traditional Mediterranean architecture and modern tourist facilities are masterly mixed together, has characteristic white houses with turquoise windows and railings and plenty of green trees, making one believe these are the only colors available here! Those landing here have the choice of tasting the unique Turkish coffee at the famous and traditional Mat CafF, while berthing in a modern marina where 380 berths are available (60 for transit traffic). From here, a tour to Carthagòs ruins and to Tunis (a must for its renowned and huge Bazaar) can be easily organized.

Yachtsmen will be more attracted by the famous La Galite island, with beautiful white beaches surrounding it, which is a real Mediterranean fauna oasis: the rare Pharaoh Sarago and the Monk Seal (actually almost disappear) can be found here. The archipelago, placed 40 miles off the Tunisian coast, was, during the 50's, a coral fishing colony, while today is almost entirely occupied from a military facility. La Galite, known since the down of civilization, as suggested from the Ipogean tombs found here, were known for the several fresh water springs used by ancient seamen. The military presence impose a few days transit only, just what one need for fishing the tasty lobsters found here. The archipelago can be reached from Biserta, offering a marina with 200 berths.

Tabarka port, currently under re-building and with a picturesque castle overlooking it, is a good alternative. More than 100 berths are reserved to pleasure boats, but more will be available soon.

Those looking for a worldly holiday should steer eastbound indeed, sailing from La Goulette port located in the Tunis gulf. Here 150 berths (30 for transit traffic) and a Yacht Club are available, and Tunis is easily reachable.

Sidi Daud and Keliba ports, almost entirely occupied by fishing vessels, are located on the extreme Tunisian peninsula end; the former has a draught limitation to 1.8 meters, and is a tuna- fishing site where, between may and June, it is possible to see the cruel slaughter. These two facilities are very characteristic places but not suitable for large yachts, which should steer south of Bon cape, where landing can be found at El Kantaui, offering 160 berths on 3.5 meters water depth.

Beni Khiar port, nearby Hammamet, has a draught limitation to 2.5 meters too, and only daylight landing (best if assisted by a local guide) is recommended. Once there , do not miss a tour to Hammamet, probably the most renowned tourist center over the entire North African coast: from Flaubert to Maupassiant, including Oscar Wilde and Wiston Curchill and, most recently, Francoise Sagan and Sophia Loren, have all been charmed by this beautiful town, which enclose the sea under an always clear sky. The fortress, a splendid example of classical architecture, built in the XV century, and the tourist resorts in the nearby coast, are beautifully cast in the surrounding environment, ensuring complete comfort to vacationers.

El Kantaoui, surrounded by a residential complex, offer a new Mediterranean boating style. The nearby Sousse town feature a wonderful natural scenario and port, now mainly used by fishing vessels. The town was built by Phoenicians before Carthago, and was then conquered by Romans who made of it an active trade center, knowing its maximum expansion under Emperor Traiano rule, during which it was nicknamed "the fertile town". The Vandal and Byzantine rules followed, replaced by the Arabs who built here the Big Mosque and famous Kasbahs. The town is surrounded by walls and is overlooked by the Khalaf Al Fata tower, built in 859, on top of which one can enjoy a breathtaking view, ranging from the town to the endless sea.

Monastir, located at the Hammamet gulf's extreme end, was once a fortress built on the promontory to prevent sea invasions; several rules followed here along the centuries, including the Punic, Roman, Spanish and Turkish who made it an "Holly City". Few days spent in Monastir were enough to gain eternal paradise, and, the legend says, Mohammed stated that the door to paradise was hidden here. Monastir, however, is surely a boaters paradise, offering 400 berths and a charming town with characteristic alleys and stores, overlooked by Ribat castle, for centuries the seclusion monks see. Several folk-happenings take place here in August, of which the most locally known is the International Folklorist Festival. Further south, Mahdia port, located just 50 miles from Lampedusa, offer 610 berths, followed by La Chebba port with 421 berths.

In the southernmost part of the Tunisian coast, nearby Djerba island, there are several minor landings, where entrance should be considered only with good weather conditions and with low draught boats. We suggest to sail, in your maiden voyage along the Tunisian coast, with a local experienced skipper on board, however, on common routes, cruises can be safely undertaken and common marine knowledge will do.

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