The Ultimate Guide to Sidi Kaouki Surf

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Sidi Kaouki surf means plenty of individual peaks and a consistent reef section, all stretched along a gorgeous length of Moroccan coast under the gaze of a mystical Sufi tomb. Tempting, eh?

Sidi Kaouki surf

Sidi Kaouki surf at a glance

The good:

  • Lots of different peaks along the same beach
  • Traditional Moroccan vibe – think camels on the sand!
  • Good surf schools

The bad:

  • Really windy in the summer months
  • Mainly rights
  • Lack of places to stay and eat

This is a part of our greater guide to surfing Morocco.

What will I find in this Sidi Kaouki surf guide?

An introduction to Sidi Kaouki surf

Sidi Kaouki pops up on the Moroccan coast just 30 clicks south of the kite surfing mecca of Essaouira. It’s one of the rising stars on the country’s surf scene. The main offering is a long, sandy beachfront (not the prettiest) that gets whacked by loads of Atlantic swells. The extreme north end of the shore is the easiest to reach. That’s host to a little reef section that handles some pretty decent and even hollow sections on occasion. The extreme south also holds up well thanks to its rocky floor.

That said, the vast majority of the 2.5-kilometre strand is all section beach breaks. We’re not going to pretend they are the best quality waves in North Africa. They aren’t. In fact, they’re prone to closeouts and get heavily affected by cross-shore winds. On the plus side, they are downright fun and great for beginners looking to progress up the ladder from pure whitewash.

And there’s something else that makes Sidi Kaouki surf a special treat: The setting. Dusty hills and wild dunes frame the beach, while camel caravans groan in silhouette this way and that. The town itself is home to a haunting Sufi tomb that dates to the 1800s, which you can still see crowning the main surf point. It’s also off-the-beaten-track Morocco, so you get that sense of adventure.

Sidi Kaouki surfer

Where is Sidi Kaouki?

Sidi Kaouki is a pint-sized village that sits 30km directly south of Essaouira. You can get there on a local bus, but it’s usually better to haggle for a transfer (Essaouira to Sidi Kaouki usually takes around half an hour on the main road without traffic). That’s particularly true if you’ve got a lot of gear in tow.

Geographically speaking, Sidi Kaouki is on the western edge of southern Morocco. It’s about 4.5 hours from Casablanca via the main coast highway and about 2.5 hours from the medina city of Marrakesh.

A guide to the surf spots in Sidi Kaouki

You only really need to know about the beachfront in Sidi Kaouki. That’s where the vast majority of the surfing is done. It’s the long run of sand right by the town, hosting countless wave peaks for all levels. That’s included below, along with a few of the other, more-challenging breaks in the region.

The north reef

The top end of Sidi Kaouki Beach is the mainstay break for intermediates. Best surfed on mid to high tide, it rolls in over a cluster of rocky pools. They help to give a bit of shape and glassiness to the water and pull the peel right across the headland just below the Sufi shrine. It’s a picturesque spot to surf and the main challenge has to be the take-off, which is deceptively slow (you’ll need some good paddle power to get onto the ride a lot of the time).

Sidi Kaouki Beach

Sidi Kaouki Beach is where the vast majority of surfers in the town will head. This 2.5-kilometre-long length of golden sand is washed by more individual peaks than you can shake a shisha pipe at. There’s no telling what each will look like, but the predominant feel of the sandbanks means heavy right handers. There’s quite a bit of power in the swell during the winter season. Moreover, summer cross-shore winds can chop the lot up to make it virtually un-surfable. Watch out for a few rips. In fact, ask in the local surf schools by the town where is safe before you get in the water – that’s the best way.

La Grotte

Down a dirt track that leads to the north of Sidi Kaouki, La Grotte is among the best-known hardcore breaks in the area. It sits on the rugged Cap Sim headland, where the northern winter swells curl in to offer double overheads with good consistency a lot of the days throughout December and January. The height holds up well at Grotte, which means you can get some decent tube rides in. It’s only really for intermediate and up. Rewards for braving the unpaved road include empty line ups.

When to surf in Sidi Kaouki: November to April

There’s no doubt about it – the winter is the best time to plan a Sidi Kaouki surf trip. Summer winds recede around September and offer still enough conditions for dawn patrols and glassy waves by November time. But it’s not just that. The North Atlantic kicks into action during October. It’s the same engine room that powers the likes of Nazare and La Santa in Lanzarote (which isn’t that far away). It offers north-westerly swell directions that really compliment the lie of the land in Sidi Kaouki. The result? Longer periods, bigger sets, and far more consistency. Being a surf town, you might also find that a lot of things shut up shop for the summer months.

The best Sidi Kaouki hotels for surfers

Auberge De La Plage ($$)

Auberge De La Plage sits just 200 metres from the main surf points in Sidi Kaouki. It’s got a charming garden dotted with willow trees and patio seating areas. There’s also a playground for kids, just in case you were bringing the little ones for a Moroccan surf! The rooms are rustic-chic, with adobe walls and raw wood features. We really love that rooftop terrace with its panoramas of the ocean!

Auberge du Marabout ($$)

You’ll be able to watch the surfers on the waves and the camels trotting across the beach from the huge terrace at Auberge du Marabout – that is, so long as you’re not too busy sunning yourself or lost in a book! The point is, the location is perfect for a surf trip to Sidi Kaouki. Rooms are simple but comfy with lovely tiled bathrooms and a cosy communal dining-lounging space.

Dar Iziki ($)

There’s only a handful of rooms in Dar Iziki, but that helps add a little personality to the hospitality. It also means you should find it easier to meet and mingle with other surf travelers at the communal pool or in the breezy gardens. The location is a little further from the waves than the hotels above, but still only a short stroll for those morning patrols.
Sidi Kaouki beach

Surf shops in Sidi Kaouki

Sidi Kaouki is still a relative newcomer on the Moroccan surf scene. It’s now got its fair share of surf schools (some of them good; others not so good). However, fully-fledged surf shops haven’t yet arrived in earnest. Still, we can recommend the following if you’re struggling for hardware…

Sidi Kaouki Surf Station

The Sidi Kaouki Surf Station is probably the most established surf name in the town. It’s housed in a large, double-storey building right on the seafront (home to a nice café upstairs). There are racks and racks of rental boards, which are mainly used for the regular stream of surf schools that come through. But you can also buy the basics – rashies, wax, etc.

Gipsy Surfer Surf Shop

You’ll need to head back to the main town of Essaouira (as mentioned above, Essaouira to Sidi Kaouki is around 0.5 hours in the car) to find this cool little surf outlet. It’s hidden in the midst of the white-painted medina, offering everything from sandals to rash vests to pop-out boards. There are sometimes even local surf forecasts on display if you’re struggling to get an update on conditions.

Kaouki Surf School

Not strictly a shop, the Kaouki Surf School is one of the friendliest spots in town. It’s run by a French-Moroccan couple who seem to have an unstoppable smile on their face the whole time. There’s not much for sale (apart from great lessons and cheap board rentals) but they’re usually happy to help if you have any questions about the Sidi Kaouki surf spots and whatnot.

Where to eat in Sidi Kaouki

La Trattoria

There’s an attempt to fuse Italian and Moroccan cuisine onto the same card at La Trattoria. So, prep for fresh tomato salads with herbs (that’s the Moroccan part) and all sorts of tomato pastas and pizzas (that’s the Italian). The main draw isn’t the food, though – it’s the setting. This eatery sits literally a stone’s throw from where the waves of the north reef roll into shore.

Siki Kaouki Surf Station

Casual eats and good breakfasts are the name of the game in the top-floor eatery of the Siki Kaouki Surf Station. The menu changes regularly, but you can usually expect a mix of fast food and more creative couscous and Spanish-influenced tapas. Whatever you pick, the sweeping 180-degree view of the whole of Siki Kaouki Beach is sure to keep you going!

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Sidi Kaouki

You might have come for the Sidi Kaouki surf, but don’t forget that you’re in an awesome part of Morocco. You’ll want to set aside some time without the board so you can explore. A few of our suggestions would be…

Visit Essaouira

Essaouira is considered by many to be one of the most amazing cities in the country. It’s ringed by great walls raised by the Portuguese in the 1500s and has wide streets threaded with cafes and cannons. It’s hailed as the most European of destinations in Morocco, thanks to its bars and European-style architecture. There’s also a lovely urban beach that’s great for kitesurfing in the summer. You’ll find that just to the south of the main entrance.

Essaouira Morocco

Horse riding

Sidi Kaouki has become a hotspot for horse riding in recent years. The local dune landscapes and their argan groves provide the perfect place to saddle up and gallop around the Moroccan shores. Local outfitters and even some of the Sidi Kaouki surf schools offer packages and beginner lessons. Choose them if you’d prefer to be shown the main bridle trails in the area.

Horse Riding Morocco

This ultimate guide to Sidi Kaouki surf is always being updated and changed. If you think we’ve missed something or gotten something wrong, we’d sure love you to get in touch. You can use email or just drop a message in the comments below.

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