Morocco’s premier surf destination, Tagazhoute is a return to how surfing should be - but with developers eyeing up the coast, it won't stay that way for ever...
Forget the hell waves of Bell’s Beach, the chicks on the Grand Plage of Biarritz or the lure of Jeffrey’s Bay - Morocco is a surf destination with a difference. Here, in Tagazhoute, you’re more likely to see herds of skinny black goats, orange sellers and highly-decorated camels on the beach than ice cream sellers, Raybanned posers and surf shops. It’s a surf resort without multi-national branding, TV cameras and sponsorship deals, and a truly refreshing change.
What makes Tagazhoute such a draw for Europe’s surfing community is this: for 60km of the coast between the brash package holiday destination of Agadir and the boho-luxe town of Essaouria, there’s a point around every corner to surf. There’s something to suit everyone, from those coming in packs to Surf Maroc, the only surf camp experience in the area, to those who have pitched up in their cars, happy to rough it as long as the waves are pumping.
up the coast is regularly featured in interiors magazines for its boutique hotels and bijoux shops, Tagazhoute is its plainer and more basic cousin, with not much more here now than there was 50 years ago. There’s only one surf hotel/bar/restaurant in the town itself, The Auberge
, right on the main town beach, while Surf Maroc has several properties for its surf and yoga schools along the coast. The rest of the town, with its narrow streets, dusty white and red buildings and small handful of surf shops, is more functional than fashionable. But hey, if you’ve got a bed for the night and some waves to surf in the morning, what more do you really need?
I have to confess, I’m not a great surfer. I’ve got the general gist though, after about five years’ practice, and am confident in shoulder-high waves, if not exactly elegant. But with so many points to pick from, including Banana Beach, where the surf school holds beginner lessons, it’s easy to find somewhere that’s the right level for me.
The pick of the waves on my trip were at La Source, a five-minute drive from town, where a fast right-hand wave crashes right into the rocks. Further out on the same beach is Killers (so-called because killer whales have apparently been spotted there), the most famous break along this coast. I can’t see any orcas, and anyway, it feels a bit too close to land to be true. I also love Hash Point, very close to the town, the spot where lazy bum stoners surf when they can’t be bothered to go further afield, and an unnamed location 20 minutes drive away from Agadir where we surf as the sun sets on a deserted beach with only a curious seal for company.
While Tagazhoute continues to attract surfers in the know from Europe for the winter sessions (it’s best from October to April), it looks like this surf paradise isn’t going to be around in this state for that much longer. Morocco is a developing country, and has cottoned on lightning-fast to the potential for tourism to improve its economy. Marrakech is booming and Agadir, just down the coast from Tagazhoute, continues to pull in package tourists from across Europe. Naturally enough, developers are starting to look up the coast for more opportunities. It’s rumoured that big five-star hotel chains have been looking at Tagazhoute as a location for new spa and golf hotels, which will bring much needed money to the area, and foundations are being put in at points all along the surf coast as I write.
The gentle laidback ethos of this coast is going to be changed forever with these new developments, so budding surfers would be wise to get there now when you can have it all to yourself. In five years' time, it will be too late.
You can fly to Marrakech or Agadir with Ryanair or easyJet. If you want to hire a car, try easyCar at Marrakech airport or Tiger Car Rent
Rooms at The Auberge
cost 150dh per night through Surf Maroc, who also have package deals from around £360 for seven nights, including board hire. Wetsuit hire is £5 per day and surf coaching is £15 per session.