Surf’s up off Morocco’s Atlantic coast
CASABLANCA - Warm temperatures throughout the year, great waves along the 1,835km Atlantic coast and cheap flights from Europe have made Morocco one of the world’s most popular surf destinations.
France’s Benoit Carpentier and his team chose the Moroccan city of Dakhla to prepare for the Stand Up Paddling World tour in Hawaii.
In an interview with Surf-report.com, Carpentier, the 2017 European champion, said Morocco was the perfect annual surf trip, thanks to its warm waters, long hours of sunshine and hospitality.
“For all these reasons Morocco has become for more than 10 years for the Carpentier family the surf trip that opens the new year! Sidi Ifni and especially Imsouane were our drop-off points for many years interspersed with two transfers to Dakhla already in 2011 and 2013,” said Carpentier.
Edward Delpero, French vice-world champion of longboard, described the breathtaking sky lights that Morocco offers at dawn and dusk.
“Sometimes you travel for months in search of waves that never come but sometimes patience is rewarded,” Delpero told Surfsession.com. “There are also moments during business trips where we end up exchanging tickets for four additional days to try to score, that’s what happened here, and it was one of my best — albeit shorter — expeditions in this region that is dear to me: in the Land of the Sidi.”
International surfing stars have significantly helped promote the sport in the last two decades in Morocco with interviews and videos posted on social media.
Casablanca has an international surf competition every year in September. Anfaplace Pro Casablanca is a stage of the Qualifying Series circuit.
Several surf schools in Casablanca are offering surf and bodyboard lessons for beginners.
Kamal Nady, the owner of Casa Surfhouse surf school, set up his hut in 2013 at Casablanca’s Ain Diab beach but has been teaching surf since 2008.
“Our customers are mainly Moroccans because our goal is to improve the level in Morocco,” Nady said. “Foreign tourists come to our surf school during the holiday season.”
Surf Instructor Tarik Belmqeddam uses a Facebook page titled “Surf Morocco Centre” to lure tourists to Morocco.
“In the Casablanca region, instructors have their huts equipped with boards unlike in the southern region, where most instructors drive their 4x4s from one spot to another in accordance with their clients’ demands,” Belmqeddam, 35, said while driving to meet surfers near Agadir.
Surfers and hippies have been flocking to the village of Taghazout for decades to take advantage of its famous Anchor Point, laid-back atmosphere and accommodations that meet tourists’ varied budgets.
Tourism and surfing have drastically changed the village of about 5,000 inhabitants who once relied on fishing to make ends meet. Many tourists have stayed and set up surfing-related businesses, helping Taghazout become one of Morocco’s most visited surfing spots.
Belmqeddam, who used to live in London and take customers from England to Morocco, relies on good customer reviews on social media and word-of-mouth to promote his business.
“It was amazing! The instructor was very nice and professional, and he was always taking care of us and helping us. Instead of staying in Essaouira, he took us to a beautiful place called Imsouane, where we surfed. After that we had a fish barbecue, Without a doubt I’ll come back!” wrote Isabel Fernandez Del Campo Agui’s Facebook page.
Belmqeddam charges 500 euros ($568) for his 7-day package that includes accommodation, surf lessons and breakfast.
Ben O’Hara and Oliver Boswell from Britain set up Surf Maroc 15 years ago for surfers in Taghazout after they made several trips to the village as university students. Surf Maroc offers packages that include beachfront accommodation, food and a surf coaching curriculum for both beginner and intermediate surfers from $780.
For those who are looking for an unusual experience on the go, the Truck Surf Hotel is the answer. Created by travel guide Daniela Carneiro and surf instructor Eduardo Ribeiro, the truck can transport passengers to the best surf spots on the Atlantic coast while offering comfortable mobile accommodation.
Surf instructors recommend October to April as the best period to surf in Morocco with the best spots, including the famous Ras Lefaa (“Head of the Snake”) spot in Safi, between Essaouira and Taghazout.