My Morocco Surf Holiday with Surf Berbere

Monday, October 09, 2017

"To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure." ~Freya Stark

Perhaps it was a longing for this sensation that made me take a 3 hour bus ride from the dusty streets of Marrakech to the surfing destination of Taghazout. Or perhaps it was just the pull of water. The sun was so harsh outside that I had to keep the curtain closed. Until I sensed that blue horizon after miles and miles of desert.

It was my first trip to Morocco, and after a business trip in Marrakech, I decided to take a solo trip to Taghazout to explore the surf. I raised a few eyebrows when I mentioned I was traveling alone, but I never felt unsafe.

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I didn't know what to expect apart from surfing, which I desperately sought for after months of being landlocked in Paris. I simply booked a weekend with Surf Berbere and welcomed all the unknowns and unexpecteds that came with it.

Welcome with A Smile

I waited for my ride at the Agadir bus station after Hamza, a Surf Berbere host, had reassured me that it had all been arranged. The driver arrived, smiling and asked "Surf Berbere?'. I nodded and he took my bags and opened the cab door for me. It only occurred to me minutes later when I was marvelling at the port that he didn't know my name and I wasn't sure if I was taking the right vehicle.

But years of traveling alone allowed me to sit back, trust my instincts and let things unfold.

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Rachel, another host who didn't look a day over fifteen was the first smile I saw at the surf camp. Many others soon followed. I was soon introduced Hamza and Hans, 2 other hosts who made sure I had everything I needed. Aniss and Zach were the surf instructors who greeted me enthusiastically after I mentioned that I was surfing with them the next day.

I couldn't resist enjoying a chicken tagine lunch as soon as I had arrived, prepared by their very enthusiastic chef, Brahim.

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Room with The View

Rachel brought me to my room and I couldn't believe my eyes. It had a magnificent view of the ocean! And it felt roomy enough for me to imagine actually living there.

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The place had its own toilet and bath, kitchen and even a spacious living room and a desk to work from should I decide to stay longer. I was tempted for sure.

Surf Berbere Taghazout Morocco 1

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And only one floor above was the rooftop terrace where dinner was served. It was the perfect sunset chill out spot.

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Surf Berbere Humble Beginnings

James, the owner later revealed to me that was the very apartment he had been living in when he first started Surf Berbere. I couldn't have imagined a better place to stay!

So the story went like this: Two schoolmates, James and Tudor, started Surf Berbere after they came out on a week long holiday to Agadir. Just two days into his Morocco surf holiday to Taghazout, James had the opportunity to put down a deposit of a whopping £200 for one of the now “Surf Camp” flats, with the contract stating that he had one month to complete the payment or lose his enormous deposit.

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With a bit of begging, pleading, James managed to persuade his brother, mother and godfather to join him and scrape up enough money to get a couple of the flats and what is now the café KR plot as well.

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This goes to show that great things can happen with just a little persistence and a lot of hard work.

In just a few years time, they managed to open up the cafe, the surf shop and also the Bouad Apartments. This year they just finished redoing the office and creating a lovely new yoga studio.

This story played in my head for a while before I fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. 

Surfer's Breakfast

Back in France, it often took me a while to wake up. But here in Taghazout, my internal clock kicked in even before sunrise,. I went down to their café and was impressed by the breakfast spread.

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I was greeted by croissants, pastries, crepes, bread, jam, eggs, fruits and yogurt. And I could enjoy all that with coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and of course the traditional Moroccan mint tea. What a luxury to have had breakfast right on the coast with waves crashing around us.

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Mornings For Surf

I sat with Natasha who was also a first time traveler to Morocco and a solo traveler. I asked her why she went alone and I loved her response.

"I got tired of waiting for my friends to join me. So I decided to come on my own. It's been a wonderful decision so far."

We slowly sipped our tea and got excited about the waves. It was also her first time to try surfing. I remembered being thrilled the first time I tried surfing as well. We walked up to the surf shop to get all geared up. The surf shop manager and all the instructors were very helpful in helping us choose to the right board and find the wet suit that would fit us.

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I was optimistic to be able to surf in my bikini. But they had warned me that the water might get cold and I best bring a wetsuit to make sure I can surf for a few hours. It was sound advice as the water turned out a bit colder than I had imagined.

Chasing Waves

We all got into the van and rode down the coast to choose the best spot. September, I soon found out,  was still on the small side for waves in this area but we could still get lucky depending on the tide. Anchor Point, Banana Point, Hash Point... we were introduced to a few of the famous surf spots in Taghazout.

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Aniss, Zackaria, and Rashid were the surf instructors who shared how the spots got their names and other funny stories of when the hippies had taken over this area. I was amazed by the fact that one of spots was called Killer Point- gory as it sounds. But it's not because of how gnarly it is. It's because of the Killer Whales- the friendly kind of course- that have often been spotted in the area along with dolphins.

Taghazout's Back Story

Taghazout used to be a small fishing village about 20km North of Agadir. Since Europeans came to Taghazout in the 60’s, it has developed into the surfing mecca of Morocco, with multiple world class waves all within a 15 minute drive.

Surf Berbere surf camp was perfectly situated as it was literally 5 metres from the jump off point of Hash Point a fun, fast point break.

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A Great Place To Learn To Surf

My most enjoyable surf session was definitely at Anza- a big chunk of a coastline with consistent surf that goes left and right. It was still crowded during this season but there were plenty of waves for everyone. Beginners could enjoy perfect chest to head high waves on a nice, safe, sandy bottomed beach. And for us who could get past the whitewater, we were able to catch as many green waves as we can.

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I surfed nearly the entire day. It was too damn good. We did take a break for lunch that was brought to us still fresh and warm from the camp. I love the fact that you can also get a hot mint tea right on the beach from sellers.

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At the end of the day, we were all spent but smiling from ear to ear. It was amazing to share the joy of stoke with strangers. Aside from Natasha, I also met Fabio, an enthusiastic Italian guy who had been a kiteboarder but had just tried surfing for the first time. Another surfer, Jules from Australia, had not been surfing for a while but managed to catch a few waves with us.

I loved that I was with strangers from all over the world who had come here for the same reason- to explore Morocco and to surf.

Sunset Yoga 

Amazingly, at the end of the day, I still had energy for yoga. I went up the stairs to a gorgeous rooftop yoga studio in front of the sea just as the sun was turning everyone golden. We went through the yoga practice with Lamia who had a melodious voice and a lovely French accent.

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Yoga after a day of surf must be the best thing you can do for your body. 

We relaxed, stretched, held ourselves and connected with one another. Towards the end of our first session, I couldn't help but get distracted at the big red ball of sun sinking slowly in the horizon. I quickly held the image in my mind and felt grateful just for being there at that very moment.

The Drive Back

I left my Surf Berbere apartment with a tinge of sadness at having to leave. It was some of the best days I've had in a long time. Perfect days that filled me with childlike anticipation for the next time I would be back.

A cheerful man, Achmad took my luggage and drove me back to the Agadir airport. His enthusiasm was contagious. He asked me if I had a nice stay and I replied it was perfect. He taught me a few words in Arabic and I learned that "thank you" was "shukraan".

"Shukraan", I practiced with him several times. And I truly was. Thankful, grateful for a few days of sun, surf and yoga and some lasting memories of my first time in Morocco.

Know Before You Go:

Where should I go for surfing?

There are a lot of surf sports in Morocco but the south seems to be the most famous for surf holidays. I decided to take a 3 hour bus from Marrakech. But you can also fly to Agadir airport and take a 30 minute cab ride to Taghazout which should cost around 10 USD.

Taghazout used to be a quiet fishing village but it's currently known for its surf beaches with so many spots to choose from. When the Atlantic swells roll in, you have about 20 different world class spots that all light up at the same time, all just minutes from each other. For intermediate surfers, you need to surf at Imsouane which boasts of Morocco’s longest wave- around 500 meters!

When is the best time for surfing in Taghazout?

I went in September when waves were on the small side. But we still had some fun sets and we even managed to surf waist-high green waves on our second day. If you're a beginner, you can always find some fun waves to surf. But for intermediate surfers, the best time would be around October until February when North Atlantic hits the more than 20 surf spots around Taghazout.

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How much money do I need to bring?

I asked Surf Berbere for a surf yoga package which was very reasonably priced. That meant that they had my meals, surf gear and yoga classes covered. So I only needed less than 10 USD per day just to cover for some snacks or beer.

Is it safe for women to travel alone to Morocco?

I was asking the same question myself before the trip. I consulted a lot of blogs and asked a lot of friends who had been to the region. I was told in general that it was safe as long as you knew exactly where you were going and didn't go walking alone at night. I planned everything in advance especially transportation and accommodations. I had no problems whatsoever.

How should I dress while traveling in Morocco?

I made sure I was not wearing anything too skimpy. Bikinis should be fine as long as you're on the beach but it's best to get covered up even when you're going inside a beachside café or restaurant.

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Do I need travel insurance?

Yes you do. Make sure you get yourself covered just in case. They won't be able to take you to the hospital unless you have those documents with you. And get yourself covered for surfing if it's part of your plan.

Author's Note: This is not a sponsored post.

Lois Yasay Ribeiro is a writer from the Philippines. She spent the last 6 years traveling. She is currently based in Paris with her family and is available for press trips and writing assignments in Europe.

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