Always dreaming about the next travel adventure, I am happiest when I am on the open road exploring the wild beauties of the natural world. I love a challenge, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, whether it’s learning to surf, running a marathon, hiking a mountain or skydiving through the African skies.
There’s something serene and alluring about Taghazout, a former sleepy fishing village turned year-round surf destination, in southwest Morocco. It has become a surf Mecca for those looking to catch some waves, chill out and immerse themselves in the intriguing Berber culture.
Sea-salty air and balmy days make the region seem like a refreshing tonic from chaotic urban life back home. Bright blue boats along the shoreline, seagulls swooping down between swells, surfers catching waves in the distance, it’s a quaint, coastal village scene with a laid-back vibe.
Unlike other popular European surf destinations, such as Portugal and France, Morocco is blessed with year-round warm weather, powerful Atlantic waves and a wild, rugged landscape that can only be found on the continent of Africa. If that isn’t enough to entice you, here are five reasons why you should surf there...
Waves to suit all abilities
Whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned surfer, there are plenty of beaches with varying swells for all levels. With roughly 20 different surf spots in the surrounding areas, no surf day needs to be the same.
There are miles of beach breaks suitable for surfing newbies, including Imourane and K11, where plenty of white waves make great training grounds. Anchor Point is the Holy Grail for more advanced surfers, well known for its right-hand long curling breaks. Tamraght is the place to head to, when the waves are flat elsewhere.
There are a variety of surf schools along Hash Point, many offering surf and yoga retreats. Chat to your Travel Expert to find out more.
Year-round warm weather
Step off the plane onto the soils of North Africa, and instantly feel the warm air surround you, no matter what time of the year you choose to visit. Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean, the mountains and argan forests, Taghazout experiences a mild climate with temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C in winter.
It’s not just the hot climate that attracts surfers; the waters are more inviting than chillier European surf spots, with ocean temperatures above 16°C, meaning a 2mm wetsuit should suffice. While it’s not Indian Ocean hot, the Moroccan waters are the perfect balance between refreshing and warm.
Culture, excursions and laid-back life
Taghazout has a distinct traveller vibe. It’s the rich, enchanting culture and Berber way of life that makes a trip to this coastal village so fascinating. Attracting the hippies in the late 1960s, the carefree way and the rugged natural landscape have since allured surfers from all corners of the world.
After a day’s surf, immerse yourself in the Berber culture by exploring the local markets, stocking up on spices and souvenirs, or visiting a Hammam spa in Agadir. Day trips can also be arranged to Paradise Valley, an oasis with natural pools, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
If time permits, schedule a few spare days at the end of your trip to travel to Marrakech and experience the buzz of the main square, Djemaa El Fna. Adventurous souls can head to the Atlas Mountains or journey into the Sahara to admire Morocco’s majestic natural landscape.
Tagine and mint tea
The food is another highlight. The flavour-packed tagines and sweet mint tea are worth the trip to Morocco alone. Slow-cooked in an earthenware pot, fusing fragrant spices with sliced vegetables, meats, and dried fruits – tagines are an exotic journey for the senses. Say yes to the 10-dirham (£2) mint teas sold in plastic cups on the beaches. Dubious as you may be, they are legendary. Super sweet with plenty of mint and an overdose of sugar, they are the perfect energy boost in between surf sessions.
Fill your boots with a buffet surf breakfast, often served at surf camps or beachfront restaurants. With so many yoghurts, fruits, cakes and homemade pancakes on offer, it is advisable that you pile your plate high. You’ll need the energy for a day full of surfing; it’s a full-body workout and your muscles will be grateful for the extra fuel a few hours later, when you’re catching the waves.
Yoga perfectly compliments surfing. In Taghazout there are plenty of places where you can enjoy a sunset yoga class, many in outdoor studios for added authenticity. Sun salutation (the warm-up vinyasa sequence) looking out towards the sea is a humbling experience, allowing you to appreciate the power of the waves from afar.
Not only does yoga help you to relax and stretch the muscles after an adrenaline-fuelled surf session, but it also helps to build core strength and keep you supple (essential for nifty pop-ups as you catch the trickier green waves). Sunset yoga is also a totally calming experience, particularly as you watch the sun drop behind the tangerine sky, listening to the crashing waves in the background. You’ll no doubt leave the yoga session feeling totally Zen, invigorated for your next surf lesson and a newly converted yogi. Not to mention, “totally stoked” about surfing!
Chat to a Flight Centre Travel Expert about our range of Morocco holidays and tours.
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With its wonderfully warm waters, colourful coral reefs and laid-back vibe, Koh Tao, an island on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand, is an amazing location to dive. There are numerous scuba schools scattered around the island, all offering affordable PADI open water courses in a diverse range of dive sites, from calm sandy bays to shipwrecks and deeper pinnacles for the more advanced. In particular, the combination of shallow waters, gentle currents and high visibility at these dive sites makes Koh Tao perfect training grounds for those new to the sport.
Learn the lingo at dive school
Diving is a magical experience. Underwater, brightly coloured fish glide past you, oblivious of your existence. But before you delve into this wonderful new world, be prepared to put in the training.
This consists of three essential components: theory, practise and application. The pre-diving theory studies are a vital part of the course, preparing you for your underwater jaunts. They usually take place in a classroom close to the ocean (depending on the dive company) and aim to provide you with the basic skills and knowledge. The practise, which usually occurs in the shallow waters of a swimming pool, allows you to get acquainted with the equipment, learn the underwater lingo and put some of the exercises to the test. Application is the fun part, where you get to dive into the sea and explore the amazing life hidden beneath the waves.
Tropical creatures of the sea
Diving for the first time makes you feel a bit like an astronaut, floating through space. Your body feels totally weightless and all you can hear is the echo of your deep breathing. Hold your breath for a moment longer than normal, and it feels as if time has totally stood still. The likes of blue-ringed angelfish swim gracefully past, waking you up from an underwater daydream. Submerge deeper to the bottom of the ocean floor, equalising along the way to acclimatise your body and lungs with the change in air pressure, and you become even further disconnected from life above. Welcome to this beautifully endearing, underwater world!
If you’re fortunate, the likes of butterfly, parrot and banner fish may emerge from the coral reefs, with their eye-catching, bold colours. Keep an eye out for Nemo and the gang amid the corals – the elusive clown fish is likely to flash before your eyes before darting to the safety of the sheltered reefs. Beware, and respect the space of, the sizeable trigger fish – intruders, including other fish and humans, are likely to be charged at, should these slightly menacing aquatic creatures be provoked. Give them the distance they deserve, and they will leave you be.
Dive sites in Koh Tao
With 25 dive sites across the island, popular spots for newbies include Aow Leuk and Hin Ngam Bay (to the south east), both of which are sheltered from strong winds and are home to more juvenile aquatic life. Twin Peaks, further north of the island, is the most popular dive site of them all, due to it being small, shallow and benefiting from a diverse selection of marine life and coral. Red Rock, a small pinnacle, is one of the most beautiful swim-throughs on Koh Tao, whilst the HTMS Sattakut shipwreck is a popular site for divers with the Advanced Open Water certification under their belt. Here, maximum depths reach between 27 and 30 metres.
Night diving and phosphorescence
Top your experience off with a night dive – it’s a must for adventurous and more experienced divers. Travelling by boat to the dive site, watch the amber glows of sunset change to hazy shades of dusk to nightfall. The journey is exhilarating and admittedly a little daunting, especially when the blanket of nightfall covers the sea and you take that leap of faith into the deep, dark ocean below. Once under the water, it feels as if you are swimming through the dark, starless night sky.
At night the more elusive creatures roam the waters, such as the naturally shy blue-spotted stingray, which emerges from the sand to stalk its prey. These predatory creatures are skittish, and divers that experience a chance encounter with these beauties are incredibly lucky – they are an amazing sight to behold.
If you’re feeling brave, sit on the ocean floor, turn off your torchlight and shake your arms to cause movement. Your reward, if you’re lucky, phosphorescence. Unbelievable beauty. Sparkling bright lilacs and fluorescent blues and pinks flicker before your eyes, lighting up the pitch-black waters like a magical display of stars. It’s totally captivating, and it’s likely that you will leave the waters hooked on scuba diving! This otherworldly experience is the perfect reward to finishing your open water dive course, and I highly recommend it. For me, it was my most magical and memorable life memory.
Chat to a Flight Centre Travel Expert about arranging your diving experiences in Thailand.