This winter, when it was really really cold in Europe, I manged to spend some time surfing in a far warmer place. When the temperatures were reaching -30°C (-22°F) back home, in Morocco it was around 25°C and the water was so warm that a 3/2 mm wetsuit was enough (note that I usually use a thicker one on the Baltic coast in summer!).
But this is not about the weather at all. For a long time already I had wanted to visit Marocco and check if what they say about the local spots was true. Moreover, if you live in Europe and want to go surfing in winter somewhere that is warm and not very far away, you can basically choose between Morocco and the Canary Islands. The Islands are also great but I have already been there a few times (you can read about our girls “not only” trip to Fuerteventura here;).
What, where, how
We stayed in Agadir which is a very well known turist distination. Yes, a typical place for turists unfortunatley but luckily January is far from high season so there were no crowds of people wearing socks and sandals and taking pics of everything. Anyway we only slept in Agadir as every day at sunrise (which was around 7 am so not that heroic as it may sound, though we had most of our breakfasts when it was still dark) we would get into the hired jeep and go out there looking for the spot that was working best that day. This was a very comfortable solution and it allowed us to visit many spots in the vicinity and also some further away.
Maroccan spots are well know all over the world and you can meet here surfers from as far away as Australia! The most famous place is called Taghazout. It used to be a small Berber fishing village some 20 km north of Agadir until surfers conquered it. If you want to feel the real surf vibes, you definitely have to come here. There are many hostels, surfschools, surfshops as well as board rentals so if you don’t have yur own equipment or want to try surfing for the first time, there will be no problem with that at all;)
The whole region is full of good spots famous for really long waves (mostly right hand ones) and what is equally important they’re not very crowded! Waves here can be so long that you can actually surf from one village to another and thiseven has a name: village to village surfing. The most popular breaks are Anchor Point, Hash Point, Boilers, Killers Point Banana Beach, Panoramas, Desert Point and Devil’s Rock. This are mostly spots for intermediate or advanced riders and some of them can be dangerous due to the rocks. There are, however, many beginner friendly beach breaks and you can even find some that are really empty. This is a very uncommon but really comfortable situation when you’re the only surfers in the water and can concentrate on nothing else byt the waves. That is why I really recommend Morocco for your very first surftrip!
In Agadir itself the beach is very long and sometimes there are waves too. With big swell, beginners will actually find perfect conditions for learning here as the waves are always much smaller than in Taghazout.
Further away, some 80 km north of Agadir there’s a spot called Imsouane. It’s a one and a half hour drive but it’s totally worth it! The waves here are very even and so much fun for all riders, no matter their skill level. We got there quite late but just in time to enjoy a magical sunset session, which was truly an unforgettable experience! It’s hard to describe the beauty of this spot, fortunately my friend managed to capture it on his camera:)
Although we were mostly surfing in Morocco, we also managed to catch some good wind. But for that we had to go even further to the north, to a place called Essaouira. While Taghazout is a Moroccan surfing paradise, this in turn is a favourite spot of those who like to combine their boards with kites or sails:) It’s geography and climate provide perfect conditions for those sports. There is a reason why Essaouira is called “the city of winds” The waves are much smaller here as it is protected by a natural bay partially shielded from wave action by an archipelago of islands (Iles Purpuraires). Now with good winds nearly every day and a broad sandy beach where there are usually more camels than people, there is no wonder why kiteboarders love this place so much? It is, however, a spot for more advanced riders. The wind is usually strong and gusty and there are waves. If you are a beginner who would like to learn how to kiteboard, it’s better to go somewhere else. Here are some tips on how to find a good spot for your first experience with kite.
Essaouira is also a very beautiful town and worth paying a visit in any case. I do not recommend it for sun bathing though. The beach is vast and really nice but there is a reason why there are only camels basking here as it seems that they don’t mind being covered with sand minutes after one decides to lie down;)
What else to do/see
When in Morocco, you can also try sand surfing. There are some places near Taghazout that look like a desert but are actually close to the beach. Just remember to remove the fins and better not use your best board for that;)
It’s actually the Valley of the river Tamraght in the Atlas Mountains, only some 20 km from Agadir. It’s a place worth visiting, with it’s beautiful views and lush vegetation. There are also places where you can jump from the rocks into the icy cold mountain pools. It’s better to take some sneakers besides your flip flops as there’s quite a long walk and some rock climbing involved;)
Souk El Had
The market in Agadir is quite big and you can buy nearly everything here, from fake products of world famous brands, or creations of Berber craftsmen to local delicacies. I especially recommend the latter – the fruits here, both fresh and dried (the best dates I’ve ever tried), tea, argan oil or spices are all worth buying;) Just remember to negotiate the price;)
A few tips
When to go?
Definitely not in the summer, too hot and too many turists. If you want to catch good waves, the best time of the year is from October till March.
What to take with you?
If you go to Morocco in winter, you will need some warm clothes for the night. As soon as the sun goes down, the temperatures drop rapidly. If you’re going to surf or kiteboard, you will need a long wetsuit (3/2 mm should be enough but if you freeze easily, then you might want to use a 4/3 mm), a warm beanie and hoodie to put on after the session (at least if you’re going to stay in the water till nightfall like us), a good waterproof sunscreen (the sun is still quite strong especially for people from the North;). Apart from that you might want to take some booze with you (mind the customs limits), as it is not available everywhere and quite expensive, not to mention the limited choice. Ah and I don’t recommend the local wine;)
What to eat / drink
Obviously you need to try tagine, the most typical Moroccan dish. Tagine is actually the name of the special pot, in which different kinds of meat, fish and vegetables are cooked slowly. Anything from a tagine tastes delicious:) Also do eat as much fruit as possible, the oranges and bananas here might not look so nice as in Western supermarkets but they do taste much better. If you like sweets, you may become a fan of fig jam. It’s delicious but very very sweet. As far as beverages are concerned, you have freshly squized juices and smoothies as well as the typical Moroccan mint tea (mind that it can be really really strong and unless you order otherwise, it will be served with sugar added!)
You should negotiate the price nearly everywhere, even when stopped and fined by the police;) Otherwise you will pay double or triple for everything;)
Travelling to Morocco was a great adventure and fun! There are really good conditions for both surfing and kiteboarding there. Moreover, it is warm in the winter and the spots are not crowded. What I did not like was that there was rubish scattered everywhere, even on the beaches and those poor camels used as a turists attraction (even on the most empty beach there was a guy who wanted to offer you a camel ride). Anyway, it’s definitely worth going to Morocco and catching lots of waves without having to wait for your turn;)