A trip across Morocco to surf
and discover Moroccan culture
Text Laure (Santa Mila), photo Gauthier Graffeuille, translation Emma Adams
I had a huge smile on my face and stars in my eyes from my very first step onto the sand up until my final sunset surfing session during my trip to Morocco.
My simple yet magical week wandering through the heart of nature has left me feeling like I am under a spell. Between yoga sessions at sunrise with an ocean view, surfing in front of the Atlas Mountains in Imsouane and discovering Moroccan culture through the lively colourful streets of Essaouira, it was a journey to remember.
…and including all the vital ingredients needed to take part in what I call ocean therapy.
After arriving at Agadir airport, our first stop was Taghazout – a fishing village turned into a not to be missed surfing spot.
The town isn’t very well developed; there is only very few bars and restaurants there and barely any shops – just local stands selling fruit.
There are no built roads; everything is dirt and gravel – which brings a certain charm to the untouched village.
The outskirts of Taghazout offer a multitude of surf spots including Anchor Point, Harsh Point, Mystery Point and Devil’s Rock.
So what is a typical day like in this fishing village?
It starts by waking up at dawn and stretching on the surf house’s rooftop, facing the ocean. Then, breakfast is wolfed down and the ‘surf-ari’ departs; searching for the best surf sport around Taghazout in relation to the day’s conditions. Next on the agenda are a few hours of surfing before heading back to the village once again.
After a good shower, batteries are recharged with a delicious ‘post-surf’ smoothie consisting of dates and almond milk at Café Mouja. The afternoon is spent taking a nap and getting lost in a good book in the shade on the DFrost Surf house’s beautiful terrace.
At the end of the afternoon, paddle boards are taken out along the length of the beach during ‘golden hour’ to admire the time of day just before sunset where the light makes everything appear golden.
Dinner is usually a local Moroccan dish, like Tagine, served at the hostel. While waiting for the meal, a fiery ginger beer goes down a treat while listening to nearby local musicians making music in the streets.
Taghazout, as you can see, is a village not to be missed if you’re looking to discover real Moroccan surf culture.
Where we stayed: DFrost Surfhouse
What we loved: the atmosphere, the little bars and restaurants in the village, the ocean view from our room and the terrace on our surf house.
What we didn’t love: the ‘surf-ari’ side (going on a random jaunt to find places dependant on the group). It’s more worthwhile to rent a car and to have a local guide to advise you on the best spots to go to.
A must-stop on the way to Imsouane is Aghroud; found 25km north of Agadir. It’s a colourful oasis in the middle of the desert. This tiny village balanced on top of a bay, offers travellers the opportunity to surf and to relax.
After a surf session, I recommend that you take a stroll around the village in order to discover the colourful streets filled with rainbow houses, painted murals and mirrored windows.
Just an afternoon should be sufficient time to do so.
The road between Taghazout and Imsouane is long and winding. The surrounding desert is deserted apart from the odd house here and there and the omnipresence of dry land; giving the impression of being at the edge of the world.
Imsouane, a fishing port, is a sheltered bay nestled at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, on a stretch of land protruding out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The scenery is sublime and takes your breath away; a stunning bay of turquoise water and immense desert mountains.
It is one of the best surfing locations in Morocco. The village offers two surfing spots: Magic Bay and Cathedral Bay.
Magic Bay, as its name suggests, offers incredible waves that can reach up to 800 meters high. Magic waves that make for an easy, smooth ride over crystal turquoise waters at the base of a huge mountain.
At Cathedral Bay, the waves are more consistent and there is more of a ‘beach break’ quality – making it more suitable for experienced surfers and is only located a stone’s throw from Magic Bay.
On arrival we were welcomed with open arms by Youness, the surf teacher, and the Olo Surf family – the nickname of the OloSurf Nature hostel team.
Our suitcases barely hit the ground before we already feel at home.
Here, life is sweet and calm, and follows the rhythm of the tide and the sun.
The day begins at dawn with a yoga session, enhanced by the sound of the waves on the surf house rooftop. Once up there, the only thing to find yourself face to face with is the impressive mountains ahead. Conditions made for meditation and relaxation; majestic nature as company.
After having woken the body and found flexibility once again, breakfast is served on the terrace in front of the ocean, watching the sun rise slowly on the horizon. Weather conditions are checked while finishing up a Moroccan coffee and eating fresh dates.
Wet suits are thrown on and surf boards are borrowed from the hostel’s surf centre. The beach is easily reached on foot from the hostel, and within a few strides, hot sand welcomes you to Magic Bay and it is time to have fun playing in the bay’s ‘wave machine’.
The after-surf is equally enjoyable as the actual surfing due to the fact that the surf house offers several places that allow you to surrender to the typical holiday routine of napping, disconnecting and recharging your batteries while waiting for the evening’s meal.
The evening ‘feast’, a word that doesn’t even do it justice, is prepared by a Moroccan chef using fresh local produce. The day ends with a peppermint tea in hand while having long discussions with other guests.
In Imsouane the days start and end early. Feeling suitably sleepy after dinner, we turn in early with a yearning to start a new day in this small piece of paradise.
Where we stayed: OloSurf Nature
What we loved: the surf house’s atmosphere; friendly staff, the décor, the food… It is simply a stunning, magical place with relaxing nature; wedged between the bay and the mountains.
What we didn’t love: we have no complaints! With Imsouane, it was love at first sight!
To end the trip with a beautiful bang, we spend two days in Essouira to discover a more city like and artisanal part of Morocco.
Essouira is beautiful, especially the old town – which is not to be missed. The change in pace is surprising. Taghazout and Imsouane are so calm compared to the bustling streets here that are full of life. We lose ourselves in the crazy market atmosphere; the scent of spices and argon oil, the colours all around, tribal rugs and paintings attached to walls, bags, colourful washing strung-up on lines, and all the noises of Moroccan people – laughing and negotiating. A journey through a thousand colours and flavours! A must-do. I recommend that you grab dinner at Café des Arts; a unique place to discover right in the heart of town.
Where we stayed: Villa Amaryllis, 15 minutes by car from Essouira’s town centre
What we loved: wandering through the old town
What we didn’t love: not having enough time to explore the town’s surroundings
Laure’s blog: http://www.santamila.com