My stay in Morocco turned out to be for two months in total. Here are some tips for other travelling surfers who may consider to visit and surf in Morocco in the future;
(Note: All prices mentioned below can be converted with EUR 1.00 = MAD 11.25 and USD 1.00 = MAD 8.25)
I was surprised that most restaurants, cafes and shops all around Morocco didn't accept credit-card payment. Even a surf shop with brand-new surfboards over 300 Euros didn't take credit cards either.
Many banks offer relatively good exchanging-rates for major foreign currencies. Otherwise, ATMs can be found everywhere, but they quickly run out of money, especially over weekends. If you head off to a remote place for a while or if your payment to your hotel-owner is due on the weekend, make sure you have enough cash in Dirham - the local currency of Morocco.
Trains in Morocco are nothing like those rusty old ones in India. Moroccan trains are 100 times cleaner and better than them and are also punctual enough.
I travelled both in the 1st class and 2nd class and I didn't have any problems at all apart from getting a little hassle to find a space for my bulky board-bag (6'3ft long with somehow three quivers in it!)
Keep in mind that when it comes to boarding any public transport in Arabic countries, Arab people don't line up, don't wait and don't care who you are!
Morocco's bus network is quite thorough both domestically and internationally. There are two major companies - Supratour and CTM, both of which are somehow regarded as "public" in Morocco and run best quality buses. Whereas, private companies run quite shabby-looking buses.
The downside of taking these buses is that they charge you extra for your luggage. For instance, I paid 5 dirhams for my backpack and 15 dirhams for my board-bag for a Supratour bus from Marrakech to Agadir (the fare itself was 150 dirhams).
4. Other Means of Transport
Taxis are plentiful wherever you go in Morocco. You normally have to negotiate the fare before getting in unless your taxi has a functional meter on. Some places like Agadir, however, have fares set beforehand, so I couldn't haggle the price for a ride from Agadir to Taghazout. It was 150 dirhams for a 20-minute drive.
Renting a car for yourself and for your buddies is definitely the best way to move around and check all surfable spots in Morocco. Be very careful with police officers checking the speed limit on major roads. They position themselves outside every single city and town.
A strange thing in Morocco is that many hotels and hostels don't have any ads or signs outside. So if you've made a booking for the night, you should know how to get there in detail.
The below are 5 types of typical accommodation for travelling surfers in Morocco.
There are quite a few hostels in big cities and most of them have hot-water showers, WiFi, and free breakfast. Make sure you stay in the right hostel though: the one in Marrakech I stayed in was only 80 dirhams per night, but I ended up getting badly bitten by bed-bugs (AGAIN!)
There are also a few hostels in Taghazout, but they all cost at least 150 dirhams per night for a dorm, which is way too expensive by Moroccan standards.
Riads are more or less equivalent to guesthouses and hotels. They are usually run by Moroccan families and are normally clean, safe and inexpensive.
Andre and I rented a whole top floor of a Riad in Taghazout for three weeks and we had a bathroom with a hot-water shower, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room with WiFi, and a balcony where we could check waves of Anchor Point and Hash Point 24/7. It was only 250 dirhams for two of us per night and definitely the best deal in town for sure.
III. Surf Camp
I never stayed in any surf-camps while in Morocco. First of all, I didn't want to. And second of all, they were all bloody expensive!
I actually walked in three camps in Taghazout just to see what they were like. And I think staying in a surf camp might be a good choice if you don't have a car and if you can afford it (at least 30 to 40 Euros for a dorm per night). It must be really fun to hang around with other surfers, most of whom only want to surf NSPs at a beach break.
Camping is possible in Morocco (not in big cities, though.) I didn't do it, but I met a Japanese surfer who was camping around Taghazout.
You basically have to set your tent at a camp site which is usually located outside the town and it is often dominated by those luxurious camper-vans from Europe. Be well-prepared for sleeping because it can be freezing outside from dusk till dawn.
V. Sleep Wherever
If you have your own car, why don't you sleep inside the car just like what Kepa did? I saw other surfie dudes doing it, too. Do not worry. It's safe enough.
Otherwise, Moroccan people are generally very hospitable. So if you make tons of Moroccan friends, some of whom might offer you to crash at their places for a couple of nights.
My initial idea of typical Moroccan dining was cous-cous after cous-cous. But No! The reality is that they hardly eat it except on Friday. Many local people, especially those in the southern regions, are crazy about Tajin. They have it for lunch and dinner every day with bread. I liked it but got bored after a few days. Whether it was fish or meat or vegetables, all tajins tasted more or less the same to me in the end.
The below is a list to show you average prices for food in Morocco (All in dirhams):
- Bread: 1 ~ 2
- Mineral Water (1L): 5 ~ 7
- Soft Drink (500ml): 5 ~ 10
- Mint Tea: 8 ~ 10
- Coffee: 5 ~ 15
- Soup: 10 ~ 15
- Tajin: 20 ~ 40
- Sandwich: 15 ~ 30
- Burger: 20 ~ 40
- Pasta or Pizza: 30 ~ 60
7. Surf Culture
Despite the long history of surf-exploration in Morocco since the 70s, I didn't find local surf communities in Morocco big. Even the mecca of Morocco's surf scenes - Taghazout - seemed to have a very small number of local surfers with only a handful of surf shops in town.
It seems to me that most local guys are busy either tour-guiding rich Europeans or chasing blonds. You can find heaps of badly maintained or repaired surfboards in shops in Taghazout but very few brand-new boards. It was very unfortunate that I more often encountered super-pale European surfers than dark-skin Moroccan rippers in the water.
8. People & Localism
Amongst Japanese backpackers, Moroccan people are said to be one of the top 3 most annoying people in the world: the other two are Egyptians and Indians.
I personally found Moroccan people (adults) very friendly and very helpful. But I found kids - both boys and girls - really annoying. Not only because they always called me "Chino!", but also because they so often chuckled at me and walked away. On a couple of occasions I could not put up with what some kids did to me, so I seriously told them off (in English, of course!)
That was my story on land, but in the water it was all different. Despite the fact that some of my friends warned me about harsh attitudes by Moroccan locals towards visitors, I never experienced such a thing in the water. Honestly speaking, quite a few local guys stopped before paddling past me, asked me about my nationality and always said to me "Welcome!" as soon as they found out that I was from Japan. I don't know if their attitudes could be different towards Caucasian surfers.... I hope not.
9. Health Issues
One great thing about my stay in Morocco was that I got no mosquito bite, absolutely none during my whole stay! Nevertheless, I became sick at least twice in this country. The first one was a stomach-ache which lasted for a few days with many emergency landings to be made. The second one was very acute flu-like symptoms, it was nearly mistaken as Malaria in the beginning because it was that bad!
I have no idea if both were caused by the food I ate or the water around Morocco's coastline. In fact, what should be very alarming to all surfers in Morocco right now is not really a dodgy chicken sandwich or a rarely cooked hamburger sold by street vendors, it is the quality of sea-water as a report I saw about a month ago showed the toxic level of contaminated water with the high degrees of Mercury, Phosphorus and even Uranium.... I'm not joking. This information came from a reliable source.
Some people think that Morocco is Africa. Technically yes, because it's in the African continent. However, I personally don't call it Africa. My reason is not simply because of the absence of lions, giraffes and elephants. There is actually so much more Arabic influence than Afro influence on the people of Morocco. I'm not trying to judge which one is better than the other. This is just factual.
Having said that, I still genuinely enjoyed travelling and surfing in Morocco. And this country is one of the very few Arab nations in the world where we freely go surfing without having to worry about any terrorist attacks or kidnapings.