Visitors could be forgiven for imagining that the quaint blue and white holiday village of Port El Kantaoui had been built as a Hollywood set, and simply uprooted and placed down on the Tunisian coast. In fact, this is not far from the truth. El Kantaoui is a chic, purpose-built holiday resort that owes nothing to history, but everything to a desire to cater for the up-market tourist seeking leisurely luxury in an enchanting setting.
The El Kantaoui Complex is built around a modern marina and 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' and 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, travellers should 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 front 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.
A variety of boat trips are offered from the Marina in the holiday resort of Port El Kantaoui,, including 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 between the two via the local 'Noddy Train', 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 such as 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 extremely 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.