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Moroccan Waves

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For centuries Morocco has been attracting poets, artists and adventurous travelers in search of exotic exploration. Despite this surge of discovery, Morocco’s finest treasure has somehow remained a mystery. The 3,000 kilometers of unsurfed terrain riddled with hollow right-hand barrels is anything but a myth. Overshadowed by snake charmers, veiled Moroccan women, and medieval labyrinth medinas, these beckoning waves are witnessed only by those who dare to paddle into the magic.Located in Northern Africa, Morocco has recently become labeled as “the land of the pointbreak,” offering uncrowded, warm and consistent waves year round. On the Atlantic side, reef and beach breaks alternate, offering twelve-second barrels that peal with a J-Bayesque feel. Best surfed from September though March, they fire as big as15-feet during the winter months and can break up to a kilometer in length.

Locating your dream wave is virtually trouble-free. There is decent surf in Northern Morocco near Rabat, but when the big swells run down the coast, it is best to hit the pointbreaks near Agadir. Although there is no surf in Agadir itself, the easiest way to the coast is by flying into this bustling city and driving thirty minutes north with a rental car. This region provides an ideal surfing destination thanks to the combination of swells created by North Atlantic depressions, the light offshore trade winds, and a variety of breaks.

Surrounded by towering granite cliffs, the sparsely populated coastline is dotted with olive trees and colorful Berber fishing villages. Cobalt shutters highlight the pristine sugar-cube buildings lining the shores. Sheltered by protective hills, sunshine is virtually guaranteed in this region. With over 300 days of sun per year, the water temperature averages 18 degrees Celsius. North of Agadir you will find over fifteen killer surf spots within minutes of each other, all without the threat of sharks or coral.

Most surfers wind up in Tagazoute, a dusty, laid-back hippy village edged with souvenir shops selling jewelry, carpets and teapots. Winding alleyways lead to vibrant mottled restaurants serving fresh mint tea, couscous and lamb tajine. If surfing is your sole mission, Tagazoute is the most sensible place to set up camp. Hole-in-the-wall surf shops line the main street and offer board rentals, wetsuits, and ding repair. Surf Shop Africa has a relaxed Moroccan staff that will hook you up with a board, wetsuit, and directions to secret spots for $7 a day.

If the Moroccan mystic has left you travel weary, Moroccan Surf Adventures (MSA) is located just five minutes south in the tranquil fishing village of Tamrhakht.  MSA owners Chris and Denny, provide accommodations, meals, equipment and transportation to all the best waves. They recently hosted surfers like Shane Dorian, Dan Malloy, Mike Losness and Sarah Bentley.

For surfers who prefer solo paddling, the best option is to hit serious spots such as Killer Point and La Source. Others in search of shelter from the 10 ft grinders might head to Hash Point at the northern end of the village. The consistent right got its name from surfers who smoked too much hash and considered the walk to better spots overburdening.

One of Morocco’s most famous waves, Anchor Point, is located within walking distance from Taghazout. During peak season, Anchor can get overcrowded and the small takeoff area makes it challenging for intermediate surfers. The majority of diehards will hit the waves by either jumping off the rocks or paddling far out from the North. Timing is crucial however, as strong currents and rocky shores can turn this hallo tube into a board snapper.

Named after the killer whales that sometimes cruise the area, Killer Point is just a few miles north and offers one of the best waves in the area. Sheltered from the North winds, the wave starts in front of a massive rock and is best on the inside. Known to hold waves up to 12 ft, Killers can be almost perfect on the right day. Few surfers seem bothered by the twenty-minute paddle to the line-up, claiming that the suffering is well worth the long right-hander victory.

Located just south of Killers is La Source, a sought after spot on small days. The point fires consistent right and left peaks and is ideal during a medium swell. On the shore, there are also rock formations bubbling up with fresh water where surfers can rinse off after a day of eating salt and sand.

Boilers, situated in the northernmost spot of the region, offers a consistent, powerful wave that breaks just south of Cap Ghir lighthouse. Short, barreling waves break on the remnants of a ghostly shipwreck, which has been known to serve up 60-second rides. The downside however, is the urchin-infested shoreline that makes getting in and out of the water a bit of a challenge.

Located at the mouth of a riverbed, Banana Beach is a local beach break that delivers punchy 4-6 ft sets. When it closes out at low tide, paddle next door to Panorama’s for a fast, round wave that breaks in front of Panorama’s Café. The right-hand point break works best at mid tide, but with bigger swells, the rips can get a bit strong and you will have to constantly paddle to stay positioned. If you enter to the north of the break, the current will sweep you right into the lineup.

Devil’s Rock lies just two kilometers south of Banana Beach. Surfable during all tides, Devil’s offers one of the few left-hand tubes in the area. During summer months you can head ten minutes up the coast to Tamri and Imessouane. This unbroken stretch of beaches picks up the swell just as other spots are running flat. Surfing here is best during low tide when there is a small swell and light offshore winds. These spots require sunrise sessions, as they are often blown out by mid-afternoon.

For those who have had their fill of Agadir’s treasures, it is also possible to head south and discover some classic waves. Sidi Infi is just three hours down the coast and provides a fresh vibe and decent waves. The quirky town is an eclectic mix of Spanish art deco and traditional Moroccan styles. Conveniently, it is also the home of deserted beach breaks that border the village.

Despite the perfection of Morocco’s surfing potential, female surfers must still be vigilant. The majority of Morocco’s fine crescent beaches are clean and hassle-free, but single females are still likely to be pestered by men aimlessly roaming the shores. Independent female travelers, especially surfers, are seen as exciting, exotic and generally available. Hiring a local to keep an eye on your car while you surf is money well spent since theft is extremely common in Morocco.

All it takes to charm the Moroccan waves is a little caution, a lot of courage, and a sense of adventure. Here, you just might discover the best waves of your life.

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March 29, 2008 - Posted by | sports, Surfing | , ,

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