Surfing Morocco means enjoying thumping cross-Atlantic currents in remote Berber fishing villages. A rising gem, there’s something for all – from cruisy right points to hollow beach breaks. Taghazout and Tamraght are the best, but there’s loads more. The best surf season here is the winter, when winds tail off.
An introduction to surfing Morocco
There was a time when travellers would look to Morocco for just those intrepid hikes in the Atlas or boundary-breaking trips to cities like Marrakesh and Fez. But then someone discovered the waves. No one’s quite sure when it happened, but some say American GIs were the first to get riding during the 1950s. Either way, the secret was outed: Surfing in Morocco isn’t just possible; it’s downright fantastic.
It seems obvious when you think about it. There’s a mega 1,835 kilometres of coastline here. Much of that threads its way along the Atlantic Ocean, passing close to already-known surf meccas like Lanzarote. Then comes the unique geography of the nation. As the humungous Atlas Mountains (they are worth the detour from the waves, by the way) drop to the sea, they give way to long, sandy beaches and forge deep underwater trenches that act as a factory for glassy waves on wide periods.
These days, Morocco is no longer a hidden gem. It’s just a gem. There are more surf schools and tried-and-tested spots on the Morocco surf map than you can shake a tagine at. The Berber villages of Taghazout and Tamraght have established themselves as the capitals of surf, but the enthralling city of Essaouira and the resort town of Agadir are also getting in on the action of late.
Morocco surf at a glance
Good for: All levels // Season: Winter (November to March) // Surf type: Beach breaks, point breaks
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This guide is a part of our larger guide to surfing in Africa.
What will I find in this guide to surfing in Morocco?
Where to surf in Morocco?
Surfing in Morocco is in its infancy. Yes, people have been coming here for decades with the board. However, most have stuck to the tried-and-tested terrain of Taghazout and Agadir. We’re certain there are hundreds and thousands of waves still to be discovered (but maybe we’ll keep quiet about the ones we do know!) along with some that deserve a special mention as an alternative to the mainstays…
Oh, Taghazout: A handsome little Berber fishing town with paint-peeling boats next to fantastic right-left peeling waves over both sand and reef – who could possibly resist that? Sadly, over-development and pollution took their toll in the 2010s and Tag became everyone’s favorite spot to surf with sewerage. The good news is that the waste water issue is now firmly solved and the place is once again firmly the epicenter of the Moroccan surf scene. There are more top-draw surf camps here than you can shake a tagine at, waves for all levels, and great vibes. It’s the place to start.
Check out our in-depth guide to Taghazout surf
Essaouira is the wind city. It pokes out on a spit of land to feel the brunt of the northerly and southerly trade winds, which swirl all over the place in the summer months. That makes it a bit of a hub for kitesurfers, who have completely colonised much of the southern end of the urban beach. When the gusts die down and the groundswells pick up in the winter, there’s lots to be said for Essaouira being the best beach for beginners surfing in Morocco. It is mellow, chest high, sand bottomed, and right next to one of the most chilled and picturesque towns in the whole country.
Check out our guide to Essaouira surf right now!
Imsouane is the Moroccan king of point breaks. Laying claim to one of the longest right-handers in North Africa, it has a take-off next to a headland on the south side of town and a ride that can hold up for nearly a whole kilometer as it stretches over the bay. Even in the punchier winter months this one tends to stay steady and mellow. That’s good news because it can’t handle too much swell. The upshot? It’s a fine longboarders option and pretty nice for beginners. That might be why new surf schools and surf camps are popping up here almost every year.
Check out our in-depth guide to Imsouane surf
We have a real soft spot for Sidi Kaouki. It’s not the best wave in the world, but it doesn’t pretend to be. What’s more, the setting could hardly be more atmospheric: An age-old Sufi tomb marks the headland with its arabesque design and adobe walls. Just below that is where you’ll be surfing, on a long beach that has multiple peaks. The most consistent is the reef area on the north end (close to the shrine), but you can find mushy waves and even some glassy points as you move further south. Sidi Kaouki is becoming more popular every year, so think about visiting ASAP.
Check out our full guide to Sidi Kaouki surf
Agadir has been drawing beach bums and golfers for decades. But there are some jewels of surf spots to be had in the vicinity of the old port city at the base of the Anti-Atlas Mountains. So long as you can get around, variety is the keyword. Perhaps you’ll make for the reef right of Cherry’s? Or will it be the fast beach break up in Cro Cro? A lot of travelers will often look to combine a trip to Agadir with surfing in Morocco’s premier spot: Taghazout. That’s only a short transfer to the north.
We’ve got a complete guide to surfing in Agadir
When to surf in Morocco?
The winter is the prime time to surf in Morocco. Winds die down to let the NW Atlantic swells roll in uninterrupted. January to March can see some good E offshores coming off the Sahara, helping key spots like Anchor Point really get rolling at their finest. Either side of the peak winter is best for beginners, in October and in May.
Morocco gets surf all year, though. Just check out the geography of the country – the Atlantic Ocean bashes straight into much of the shore. Of course, you might need to skip the Mediterranean parts of the coastline to find the swells, but that still leaves thousands of kilometres of potential riding territory.
Here’s a closer look at the two main seasons and what they mean for surfers…
Summer (April to August)
Phew! It’s hot in Morocco in the summer. Temperatures in the inland cities of Fez and Marrakesh can easily peak above 40 during the day. That’s why loads of travellers make for the relative coolness of the Atlas Mountains at this time. The heat also plays havoc with the coast. It rolls in off the Sahara and the ocean alike, whipping up strong winds that can really chop up any glassy surf. Sadly, that means those long, sculpted right-handers are a bit of a dream from May onwards.
That’s not to say Morocco is un-surfable in the summer. It’s not. You can still find murky and challenging waves hitting Sidi Kaouki and the spots of Taghazout. They’re just way more inconsistent, rarely hold shape, and don’t have the same force as their winter compadres. We’d also add that there’s a lot to be said for summer being the beginner time, as swells all over are reduced in size.
Winter (September to April)
Winter is prime time to go surfing Morocco. The same Northerly Atlantic swells that fuel Lanzarote and Gran Canaria kick in and bring power to the main spots along the western coast. At the very height of the season, it’s not unusual to catch double or triple overheads in the harder spots of La Source and the like. Meanwhile, point breaks like Imsouane go like clockwork – long, peeling walls of water. Water temperatures do dip a little in the winter, but it’s usually going to be a 2mm or 3/2 in these parts, no matter the month.
How difficult is the surf in Morocco?
Morocco is a classic all-level destination. It has beach breaks – in places like Taghazout and Agadir – that are perfect for total beginners. From there, it’s possible to progress to easier point breaks, like the long, peeling, longboard-friendly right at Imsouane (which is where many surf schools go). For more advanced surfers, there are all manner of options, not least of all the frothing bombs that go right at Anchor Point.
The seasons can play a big part in the challenge that the Moroccan surf presents. The depth of the winter is more likely to throw out the biggest days, especially in January and February. Come the spring, it usually mellow a lot and paves the way for beginners. The summer isn’t great because it’s windy, but complete learners who’ve never surfed before are sure to like the whitewash slop and the empty line ups.
Where to stay for surfing in Morocco
The key to picking a place to stay for any Moroccan surf holiday is to pick somewhere near the beach. DUH! Seems obvious, eh, but the likelihood is that you won’t have your own car rental here so walking distance to the breaks is very important. Thankfully, towns like Tag and Imsouane have plenty of options. Or you could go for a surf camp instead, because they usually include transport in minivans to and from nearby surf spots (more on surf camps below).
A very cool, all-new surf camp that’s doing everything just about right, GOLVEN isn’t too big and isn’t too corporate. You’ll meet new mates over an evening tagine and can book surf lessons at the reception. The pad is literally 350 yards from Taghazout Beach.
Blue Kaouki is the go-to hangout for surfers in the beginner-friendly surf town of Sidi Kaouki (one of our favs). It’s everything you want from a surf stay: Close to the beach (like, walking close), easy going, comfy.
Surf camps in Morocco
The surf in Morocco is no secret any more. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that this is the surf-camp capital of Africa. Relatively easy access for Europeans looking to escape the icy North Atlantic in the winter plus a low cost of living have helped it get there. That means there’s loads to pick from, some better than the rest. In fact the choice is so large that we’ve got a complete guide to the best surf camps in Morocco.
At a glance, these are some that we think are pretty darn epic:
- 8 Day Unique All-Inclusive Surf Camp in Tamraght – One of the highest-rated surf camps in Morocco that exists. This 8-day package is run by Tiziri Surf Maroc, who have a chilled and charming pad back from the beaches north of Agadir. They are very good at tweaking the package to match the level of surfer, so be sure to let them know if you want to charge Anchor Point or….not.
- 5 Day Epic Surf Camp in Tamraght with All Ride – A shorter package that includes four lessons and transport to and from all breaks (plus the local knowledge to take you to the one that’s working best). We also love the rooftop terrace for chilling on and watching the Atlantic after a sesh.
- Bleukite Kitesurf School 7-Day Beginner Course – Okay, so it’s run by a kitesurf school, but this package stands out for one very good reason: It’s aimed squarely at total beginners. Oh, and it’s in the city of Essouaria, which is by far the nicest of all the coastal towns in these parts. Despite focusing on kiting the surf tutors here are all great.
Top things to do in Morocco when you’re not surfing
The surfing in Morocco might be why you came, but there’s a whole wonderworld of African peaks and dusty deserts and historic medinas to get stuck into in this part of the world…
Hike the Atlas Mountains
Feeling adventurous? Hop some buses from the coast to the High Atlas Mountains. They soar to over 4,000 metres and claim the most altitudinous point in all of North Africa. Hiking is possible from the loveable village of Imlil, which is also the start point for mighty Toubkal peak. In the winter, the valley over in Oukaimeden even has skiing!
Hit the souks of Marrakesh
No trip to Morocco could possibly be complete without a jaunt to Marrakesh. Bursting with markets that sell everything from teapots to Arabian spices, it’s a souvenir hub. We also adore the age-old riad hotels. They come with vintage tiled walls and interior courtyards laden with flowers and fountains.
Loads of the travelers we’ve met have waxed lyrical about lovely Essaouira. It’s certainly a lovely place, and probably the most European of all Morocco’s old cities. Set on a wind-lashed promontory close to many of the best Morocco surf spots – Sidi Kaouki is just down the road – it’s an historic town of sandstone walls and immersive souk cafés. Don’t miss it.
Travel guide to Morocco
- Population: 36 million
- Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
- Capital: Rabat
- Language: Arabic
Where exactly is Morocco?
Morocco represents a huge cut-out of North Africa. On one side, it borders the Sahara Desert. On the other, it spills into the Atlantic Ocean (hello surf). The north coast is shared between the Atlantic and the Med. At one point, Europe (the south coast of Spain, to be precise) is even visible across the water.
How to travel around Morocco
Buses are okay in Morocco. They can ferry you from town to town, so long as you don’t mind being cramped up for long journeys. Those with surfboards in tow typically hold out for private transfers (which rarely break the bank) or organise arrivals with their surf camp. You can also rent your own car, but we’d recommend avoiding built-up areas where the traffic can get hectic!