James von Leyden first came to Oualidia, on the coast of Morocco, for the excellent birding along the picturesque village’s five-mile-long lagoon. Fifteen years later, he and his partner Czarina now let their cliff’s-edge estate, Villa la Diouana (www.ladiouana.com; from £2,600 a week for up to 10 people in the villa, cottage and apartment; each can be rented separately), throughout the year. There is something magical about passing through the high wooden gate and into the von Leydens’ gardens, where eucalyptus and palm trees dip and dance all day in Atlantic breezes. Their three-bedroom house opens on both sides to let in sun and the sigh and hiss of the ocean below; the sitting room is crammed with books and films and the gorgeous kitchen stuffed with multicoloured ceramic bowls and tagines (and furnished with a restaurant-quality gas range). Abdlah gardens and checks the infinity pool every so often; his sister-in-law Fatima shops and, if you wish, cooks (deliciously) for you. There’s a path leading from the property down to the lagoon; a post-dawn stroll along the sand, past the ruins of the royal palace, to the village is the way to spend at least one day here.