A Surf Trip from Agadir to Essaouira, Morocco.
Hakuna Wear's Founder Jessica recently packed her bags and set out on a surf mission to Morocco, the land of the long point breaks. We sat down with Jessica and picked her brains all about the rugged coastlines of Morocco.
Morocco is definitely a place I'd love to surf with all those dreaming point breaks. Tell us about your trip, where did you decide to go?
We had a couple different ideas when planning the trip, but we knew we wanted to stay on the coast. Originally we were thinking to drive from Casablanca to Agadir and surf on the way, but we decided that might make things complicated with board hire and the swell forecast wasn’t looking so good, so we flew into Agadir both ways and drove up and stayed in a couple different spots on the way up to Essouira and back.
Despite the forecast not looking so great, where did you end up surfing?
We surfed in Sidi Kuoaki, Imsouane, Tamri, and Taghazhout, but we checked a million spots! Almost every single one we could find on the internet (check this site out). We kept looking at the forecast and hoping things would change, but unfortunately we did get a little skunked on the trip. (My first time getting skunked!) I guess it’s all a part of the surfers journey.
Pity you got skunked on this trip! Tell us about the types of places you stayed in?
We stayed at a different place almost every night, and our hosts were the best part of every stays. The people in Morocco represent that typical saying “they would give a shirt off their back”, almost every person we met went above and beyond to help us. We paid between 20-50 US/EU per night, and almost every place had free breakfast included. We got an ocean view either at our room or on the rooftop almost every night. I used booking.com to find places and reviews, it made it super easy to book just the day before when we decided where we wanted to go next.
Did you opt to take boards on this trip?
We almost always take boards on our trips, usually some pretty high volume shortboards that do well at many different breaks and sizes but that I can still duck dive. But the forecast was so dismal (1-2, 0-1, most days with a spike to 3-4 at the end) that we opted not to bring boards so we could have plenty of different size boards for hire to choose from, there were definitely enough shops and if we shopped around we could usually land around 10 US/EU per day. We had long boards most of the time, and then surfed shortboards the last two days when it got bigger.
With a mix of culture and climate, what Hakuna pieces did you decide to surf in?
Everyone in Morocco says it is cold but they must be comparing it to some pretty tropical locations because to us if felt exactly like San Diego in the summer. A little chilly if it’s windy, but without wind and with sun, definitely doable in a small spring suit. I wore my Cloud 9 2 mm Surf Suit underneath my Moonlight long sleeve for some coverage because of the modesty of the culture, I also brought my Endless Athletic Shorts in Black, to increase modesty but ended up not wearing them. For most of the local population, women wear a hair covering and long sleeved long dress out in public so I wanted to be respectful of that. The beach towns are much less strict with that though. I also brought my old 3/2 which I wore in the mornings and when it was windy/cloudy, it was the perfect combo.
Sounds like an experience so different to any other. What inspired you to go to Morocco?
We just went to Salina Cruz in June and scored the most amazing long right point breaks, we heard that Morocco was the same situation. Plus I love exploring cultures that are very different, it was my first time in Africa (I would like to visit (and surf) every continent), and our good friend Natalie Small, Founder of Groundswell Community Project, was guiding a Surf With Amigas trip. So many good reasons to go!
One of the most important questions other than how was the waves... how was the food?
The food had a lot less spices than expected, the main dishes are Tagine and Couscous at almost every Moroccan restaurant, and most of the coastal towns have fresh grilled fish with french fries. The grilled fish was the freshest I have ever had. We are Vegetarian/Pescatarian so we ate vegetarian and seafood versions of the Tagine and Couscous, one of our favorites was a seafood Tagine that we got in Agadir, the Calamari, Shrimp, and Fish were all cooked perfectly somehow. Almost every Riad or hostel we stayed in had an option to cook dinner for us, and they were always very good, full spread with fresh bread and tea. The breakfasts were the same, full spread with Moroccan Crepe, Omelette, Jelly, Honey, Oil, and Bread with Coffee, Tea, and Juice.
What other activities did you do to fill in the time with?
Since the surf wasn’t the highlight of the trip, we did a lot of extra activities! We went to Essouira for two days, went shopping, haggled like crazy. Bought rugs, poofs, herbs, Argan oil, a lamp and light fixtures. We actually packed an extra empty duffle so we could go shopping and I would highly recommend the same if you want to buy a bunch of things.
We also hired Rachid and Julie from Ocean Surfpoint to take us sand surfing. It was fun! We got lots of video and pictures of us on my husbands birthday since there was no surf that day. We almost decided to take some kite or wind surfing lessons but after talking to the instructors decided it was more of a commitment than we realized. Essouira is great for windsurfing and kite surfing though! It’s got a great huge bay and is windy all the time. We also went for a camel ride on the beach which was a fun experience as well.
Tell us something interesting about Moroccan culture. It's seems like such an intriguing culture.
They go out of their way to help you, almost to the point of inconvenience for them and they are great sales people, on more than one occasion I got swooped into a shop not thinking I needed anything, and ended up buying something. Also, they use Argan for everything! They crush it and use the oil for hair, skin, and cooking, then they use the seeds/pods as a mulch and as a fire starter, it is a very sustainable practice. They also drink tea at every meal, in a very cute, fancy silver pot with small glass cups.
Regardless of the lack of waves, what was your favorite surf adventure or highlight of your trip?
During the weekend the surf started to pick up, unfortunately, Imsoaune (the most perfect and consistent of the waves) was insanely crowded every day. We are talking, 10 surf schools crowded. The mixture of beginners, European travelers, and intermediate surfers was very hectic, so we decided to head out to check another spot I had heard about and start our journey south to Agadir, hoping to also surf some of the famous spots like desert point, anchor point, killers, etc.
We got down to Tamri where we had booked at Boiler’s Surfstay, one of only two options in the village, which we quickly realized was a lot smaller than we even thought! Just a couple of houses near the lighthouse and two surf stays down the road. After going down the wrong dirt road multiple times and some kids helping us out, we finally made it to the spot, all very glad that we didn’t attempt this in the dark. We asked about the surf from our hosts, Amin and Amid, two brothers who liked to surf, and we were told sunset would be a good time for the tide so we went in search of a late lunch and tried to find some place that served alcohol, alcohol is pretty rare in Morocco, especially in public, it is seen as something that men do in their homes.
We found a nice beach front spot, drank a bottle of wine together, at this point our friend was off work and had joined us.
We headed back before sunset and Amin says the spot is perfect tide and wind and we should go. He also asked…. Do you surf big waves? Natalie responded “We will see”. We knew the forecast wasn’t too big, so we were very curious. We grabbed some shortboards they had and threw them on top of the car with just one strap and headed down the dirt road.
We came to a small little spot, Boilers, with a tricky in and out, that was giving some pretty good head high sets with some bigger sets that closed out and weren’t makable. It was a quick take off with a semi steep drop, with barely a shoulder and then a crash into rocks. Hah! With only 10 people out, it was worth a shot! We were out for about 2 hours and caught only a couple between the 4 of us. They just weren’t very makable! But I was proud to be one of only two women out, and I caught one good wave. Even though it wasn’t a great wave, there was finally enough size to give a little adrenaline rush, the crowd was in a good mood and happy there was swell so it ended up being my favorite session of the trip.
Sounds like an epic exotic trip despite the waves not turning on for you. Thanks for sharing your Moroccan adventure with us Jessica!