Brian Conley executes turn number three on one of Morocco’s many endless rights.
The Regular Footer’s Dream
Words: Justin Cote
Photos: Scotty Bauer
Where: Morocco is located in the northwest corner of Africa, separated from Europe by the eight-mile-wide Straits Of Gibraltar, and is roughly the same size and latitude as California. The central coastline of the country is home to the majority of high-quality waves.
What: With a warm Mediterranean climate, terrain similar to that of pre-development California, and perfect right-hand point breaks dotting the coast, Morocco is a true surfer's paradise. While there are beachbreaks and the odd left scattered throughout, the real gems of Morocco are the right-handers. Beginning with the mystical and once secret Safi and stretching south into the vast Sahara Desert (where there are rumors of Snapper-like points existing), Morocco welcomes the intrepid surf explorer.
Why: You're not gonna win the XXL or train for the Pipe Masters there, but if endless, thigh-burning rights, uncrowded lineups, friendly locals, and a culture that is thousands of years old are your cup of tea, Morocco will delight you.
How: A flight from New York City (JFK) to Casablanca—or Casa, as they call it in Morocco—will run you about $800 on Royal Air Maroc (an awesome airline that doesn't always charge for boards and provides top-notch service). From there, you'll take a quick flight south to Agadir, which is smack dab in the middle of Morocco and a perfect place to begin your trip.
Places To Stay: While you'll see a bunch of Euros camping in vans, without a doubt, the best place to stay in this surf-rich zone is with Moroccan Surf Adventures. Denny—the friendly Brit who runs the show—knows all the secret spots and has an innate sense of where and when the waves will be good. If you're not into the tour type of surf trip, he can also hook you up with a room elsewhere in the nearby surf/hippie towns of Taghazoute and Tamrakht. Check out morocsurf.com for more info, videos, and photos.
Places To Eat: As a result of being colonized by the French, Spanish, African, and Arab people, the food is a bedazzling mix of those cultures. Fresh fruit and vegetable stands line the streets of small villages, as do live chickens, slabs of various meats, and exotic spices. If you're not into cooking, hop into a tiny café for lamb or beef tangine—a local dish prepared in a conical barbecue contraption. The food is fresh, cheap, healthy, and more importantly, delicious!
Babes And Bros: Bring your own. While there are ladies (and dudes with giant swords and cobras) to be ogled in the big cities of Casablanca and Marrakech, the coastal towns are generally sleepy—except for the disco clubs in Agadir, where, unfortunately (depending on who you ask), most of the ladies are prostitutes. Hookers in general are a bad idea—but hookers in Africa are a terrible idea!
Unless you enjoy digging sea urchin spines out of your feet, it may be a good idea to bring booties-as Brian Conley did.
Crowd Factor: European surfers have been loading up their vans and migrating from the cold to Morocco for decades, so you won't be surfing alone—unless you make the trip south into the Sahara where the only signs of life you'll see are camels and the odd nomad. While the Euros are generally cool, you'll occasionally run into an eggy "I was here first" kind of dude. Disregard them. The real locals are the ancient Berber people who you'll see fishing and living in caves along the shoreline.
Stuff To Bring: During the winter, the water temp is generally in the low 60s, so you won't need a ton of rubber—a 3/2 fullsuit and a short-arm full for the midday sessions will suffice. If you're a wuss, bring booties to walk over the boulders that line most of the spots (they're also good at blocking sea urchin spines, which are common here). While your regular shortboard will handle most days, bring a step up (two to three inches longer than your normal board) for the biggest days of your trip. The days are warm (shorts and tees are fine) and the evenings cool (sweatshirt and jeans). There are ATMs scattered about, so don't bring a big wad of cash, and just like everywhere, the kids love stickers.
If The Surf Is Flat: While you can ride a camel or join a game of pickup soccer on the beach, the coolest non-surf thing to do in Morocco is visit Marrakech—the ancient walled city a couple hours from the coast. The souk (open-air market) in Marrakech is simply amazing: snake charmers, spices, leather goods, giant swords and knives, rugs, pottery, and a million types of food and drink can be found in the dimly lit labyrinth of tunnels and trails that compromise the souk.
More Information: The local surf shop in Taghazoute is called (drum roll, please…) Surf Shop and is owned by a friendly local named Larbi. The best ding guy in the area has a shop called Moroccanroll; go there for a quick, quality fix. As usual, get your paws on the latest Lonely Planet travel book for a complete guide to the area. Some good Web sites to go to are morocsurf.com, wavehunters.com, and morocco.com.