While I’ve travelled around Europe in the last few years there has always been a constant low-level noise I kept hearing about how good the surf is in Morocco and more specifically Surf Camp Berbere in Taghazout.
I recently decided I had heard enough and wanted to check it out for myself, so I jumped on Skyscanner, booked my ticket and started looking into surf camp options in Taghazout. Now just because I’m an Australian don’t be fooled into thinking I’ve grown up surfing and know my way around a surfboard because it’s actually completely the opposite. Before heading to Morocco I had actually never surfed before in my life.
After doing some research I decided to book 4 nights in Taghazout at a surf house called Surf House Berbere. Berber is the name of the Nomad Moroccan people that have lived throughout the country since 5000 BC. They have mainly populated areas of Northern Africa such as Algeria, northern Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, northern Niger, Tunisia, Libya, and a part of western Egypt. You can now also find Berber people throughout Europe and Canada. I booked this particular place as it was positioned right in front of the water at Hash Point, Taghazout, as well as having fair prices, many extras and package pricing options. Right from the moment I booked until I arrived at the surf house the communication was fantastic. I had a delay in Marrakech and it didn’t bother them in the slightest.
I arrived via bus from Marrakech and the Surf Camp Berbere had arranged to pick me up and transfer me from Agadir to the nearby surf town called Taghazout. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a friendly and warm welcome from the staff in reception and a bottle of cold water. Once all the formalities of filling out the arrival forms were done they showed me around the property and to my room for the 4 nights.
The room was on the first floor just above the cafes and restaurants on the ground level, it had a large balcony at the front with sitting areas to enjoy the water views. Once inside I was shocked that it also had a large lounge area with a small kitchenette and bathroom to the side. The bedroom was also spacious and directly faced the ocean, it had 2 large windows I could open and view the sea from while sitting on my bed. I couldn’t get any closer to the sea without getting in it. The area also had another room where a Dutch lady was staying. Both rooms could be locked so you knew your belongings were safe, not that the person I was staying with seemed that way inclined at all.
After settling in I made my way to the roof terrace of Surf Camp Berbere where dinner was served from each night. The menus vary nightly and tonight’s menu consisted of a traditional vegetable soup followed by chicken breast with Moroccan salad, it was fresh and delicious. I quickly said hello to some of the other guests that had already eaten and were sitting around chatting before heading to bed.
The next morning started like every morning at Surf Camp Berbere does, with a healthy breakfast at the nearby surf house cafe. They offer tea, coffee as well as cereal, fruits, yogurt, toast, crepes, eggs and sweets, the ideal way to fuel the body ready for a full day of activities. During breakfast I was assigned my group and instructor for my time at the camp, as well as this, each morning the hosts offer you the selections for lunch and ask if you want to participate in surf lessons for the day and yoga of the evening. Once sorted here you make your way to the surf shop and get fitted with your board and wetsuit.
The first day we headed to the nearby surf spot called Tamri. It was around a 30 min drive from the surf camp and is a popular spot when conditions are unpredictable everywhere else as this area often has waves on offer. When we arrived the tide was out a little too far so we had to wait for a couple of hours for the water to come higher up the beach, this gave me some time to explore the area and get a few nice pictures as well as have a chat to my instructor and introduce myself a little bit. His name as Eliase and had been working in surf camps now for a few years teaching newbies and intermediate surfers all his knowledge. His English was great and made understanding his instructions super easy. We all enjoyed a game of cards on the beach as well while the wait for the higher water was happening.
Other surf camps in the area had already been and left the water by the time we had gotten the all-clear to go, this showed how knowledgable our guides at Surf Camp Berbere were. The others hadn’t had much luck as the waves were far too messy to surf. We had noticed the waves and whitewater was now a lot cleaner than it had been the previous few hours, the local knowledge of the guides was already shining through.
After receiving my first set of instructions and a general rundown of what to expect I headed out into the water for the first time. Instantly I noticed the strong sideways rip that Eliase had warned me about. Once getting comfortable in the conditions I began to think about catching my first whitewash wave, whitewash wave just means a wave that has already broken and the aim is to practice my standing up on these first. All the instructions of head up, paddle strong, push with arms shoulder-width apart and stay low with back leg bent were all running through my head at once when I attempted my first wave. It wasn’t a roaring success as I didn’t manage to stand up but it certainly didn’t intimidate me and I was quickly attempting to catch them time and time again. The success of each wave varied but I can honestly say I had stood up and caught a whitewash wave within the first half an hour of being out there.
Throughout the next 2 hours of surfing, you had to exit the water once the rip had moved you so far down the beach and walk yourself and the board back to the starting point and try again. It was exhausting work in the waves and rip that was on offer and after having managed to stand up for varying lengths of time and distance I decided to call it a day. I made my way up to our spot on the beach and found lunch waiting for me, it was chorizo pasta salad along with sides of dates, prunes, crisps and muesli bars. Another hour or so later after drying off and sun baking Eliase drove us back to Surf Camp Berbere. I left Tamri beach that day completely exhausted.
That evening after a nice hot shower I went and completed yoga on the rooftop studio area of Surf Camp Berbere. It was right in front of the water and the view of the sunset while doing yoga was so special. The yoga finished after a relaxing hour of stretching and we were welcomed with a hot mint tea or as the Moroccan locals call it Moroccan whiskey. From here it was a short stroll to the nearby dinner area where soup, beef burgers and rice awaited me. After dinner and dessert of crumble, we played some more cards and continued to get to know one another. The spread of nationalities was dominated by the English with sprinklings of Australians, Dutch and Spanish thrown in.
The next morning after a fantastic sleep and waking listening to the gentle movement of the ocean it was off to breakfast to repeat the process of yesterday and then making our way to the surf house berbere storehouse to once again grab a surfboard. Today we were heading to a different beach called Anza. This particle beach is famous in the area, as it has incredibly well-preserved footprints of dinosaurs in the rocks close to the ocean. A great thing to check out and find out more about while once again giving the water time to rise a little bit. There is a local gentleman their that is only too happy to tell you more about the story of why and how the dinosaurs were in Anza all those years ago. These footprints have been laying along the coastline of Anza for some 85 million years and with a carefully managed preservation program in place, it’s hoped they will be on show for lots more years to come.
Today we didn’t wait anywhere near as long for the waves to improve and once we headed out it was all about catching the green water waves, which means catching the wave before it has the chance to break. Eliase again gave us a few lessons and instructions on the beach while pointing out the good and not so great area’s to attempt to surf. Today he made his way out in the surf with us and positioned himself in the ideal areas to catch waves when you wanted you made your way to him and he coached you through the process of attempting to paddle and stand up on a green water wave.
It became apparent to me instantly that these waves were not anywhere near as easy to catch than the white water waves of yesterday. The timing of your paddling and standing up was so much more important with these waves. Again I was extremely determined to listen and attempt to catch as many waves as I could as this was the only way to improve. The first wave I caught and stood up on would have looked great to the onlookers on the beach I’m sure but I must admit Eliase made me look great on that occasion by giving me a timely push to the back of my surfboard. Again I battled and persevered with the waves for around 2 hours before getting exhausted and returning to the beach. Today’s results were beyond my expectations and I left the water really proud that I had managed to catch some waves by myself and stand up. It was a satisfying experience and now understood how you could get addicted to the feeling. When I did manage to catch a couple of nice waves the feeling was fantastic, it felt like nothing in the world was important and you completely forget about everything except for the wave and you. You feel the power of the wave and try and capture it for as long as possible.
I had lunch (chicken couscous) and rested up for an hour or so before deciding to return to the water and have another go. I surfed for around 1 hour more and managed to catch my 2 best waves in this session before again feeling the effects of the effort of battling the waves. We then loaded up the van and returned to the surf house ready for another yoga session on the rooftop.
Tonight’s yoga was a bit more of a workout rather than the relaxing experience of the night before. It had a lot of us sweating but the effects were great. After more mint tea upon finishing, we made our way again to the rooftop of our accommodation at Surf Camp Berbere and was greeted with the delightful smell of tagine cooking, we had the choice of vegetable, chicken or fish or a mixture of all 3. It was another quality meal that was certainly appreciated after such a long day in the water.
Day 3 of surfing with Surf Camp Berbere was a special one as well as technically my last full day of surfing. Today we went on a road trip with Eliaseto Imsouane, this place is known for having the longest right-hand break in Morocco. It is around an hour drive from the surf camp but it goes pretty quickly thanks to Eliase having what I described as the greatest playlist on earth on his phone. The trip was just one tune after another of great songs that couldn’t help but put you in a happy mood.
Once we arrived we found lots of other surf camps had decided to head down to Imsouane as well and the place was pretty crowded for the number of waves. Imsouane is made up of two areas, the bay where the longest right-hand wave is located and the area we found crowded with people on arrival and the main beach area. We decided to head back around the corner to the main beach as the waves here were looking pretty solid.
The waves were pretty clean and the idea was to again try and practice catching the green waves as much as possible. Eliase came out with us again and offered all his expert advice, he offered feedback on why we didn’t catch a wave, why we didn’t manage to stand up or even on the odd occasion what we managed to do most things well. He had a lot of patience and after another few hours of surfing, I was standing up and now trying to attempt to turn the surfboard while riding the wave rather than just catch it straight to the beach. It was by far my most enjoyable session of surfing yet and really felt like I was making some strong progress as now I was beginning to understand why I was falling or failing to catch the wave rather than just accept it.
On the day trips to Imsouane, it is too far to bring the packed lunch so instead they organise for us all to have fresh fish for lunch in a beautiful spot overlooking the main beach where we had been surfing. The fish is sourced locally from the town market from a fisherman that had caught it this morning, can hardly find fresher. There was loads of fish, salad and bread to fill us up and have us eager to attack the waves for one last time in the afternoon.
The afternoon session was really pumping and the waves even got good enough for Eliase to return to the water after first deciding to stay in the van because he filled up too much on the barbecued fish. I tried hard to compete with these bigger waves but they were super steep and closed off very quickly. You needed to do everything well and fast if you wanted to catch these waves. I managed to grab a few of the small ones in the sets and left the bigger ones to the many local and far more experienced surfers that had suddenly turned up now the waves were at their biggest. Once exhausted again I returned to the van.
I grabbed my camera and took some great pics of a few of the more talented surfers including Eliase who was now having the time of his life out there. It was great watching some really talented surfers catching wave after wave. I enjoyed ice cream and watched the show until Eliase returned to the car and we headed on back to Surf Camp Berbere.
That evening thanks to the impressive swell at Imsouane our van missed the yoga class. Instead, I had a shower and made my way up to the rooftop for my last evening meal at the camp. My time had gone really fast and I was disappointed that tomorrow was my last day staying with Surf Camp Berbere. We enjoyed another meal and played some fiercely contested games of Uno before the whole group parted ways and headed to bed completely tired from fighting the waves throughout the day.
Today was my last day surfing with Surf Camp Berbere and I checked out of my room after breakfast, because I had a late afternoon bus back to Marrakech the surf house organised that I could go surfing up until lunchtime before returning back to the surf house with the lunch delivery guy.
We first checked out the beach of Anza but on arrival, we found a group of locals that were sniffing glue and eager to cause a little bit of trouble so wisely our man Eliase decided to head away from that beach and instead try to surf at Agadir main beach. This made it 4 new beaches in 4 days so I was really pleased. The swell was pretty small but actually was perfect for my last day as I was so sore in almost every muscle in my body, I think I had even discovered new muscles I never knew I had.
This session of smaller waves allowed me to practice again all the things Eliase had been teaching me over the previous 3 days. He grabbed my camera and took heaps of pictures of me and gave them to me to show exactly what areas I was doing wrong or well. It was a great way to finish and also allowed me to gather some perfect pictures of me surfing or crashing. Unfortunately, the lunch man forgot me when he delivered the meals and instead the Surf Camp Berbere had to organise a group of us to return via a supplied taxi. This was the first thing that had not gone to plan over the 4 nights so I couldn’t complain too much.
Overall Surf Camp Berbere run a professional and enjoyable surf experience, you receive lots of added extras that I wasn’t expecting when you think of a surf house stay, the welcome drink on arrival, the quality of meals supplied and the living arrangements so close to the sea all were above my expectations. The yoga in the most beautiful of locations as the sun was setting and the bottled water supplied each day when you pick out your surfing equipment are other extras that I don’t believe you will find at all camps.
I had a great time learning to surf here and made some friends I hope to stay in touch with and potentially catch up with again in the future. If you are planning a trip to Morocco and want to add a few days or weeks surfing I couldn’t recommend enough to get in touch with Surf Camp Berber. They cater for all skill levels so don’t be put off by the fact you have never tried surfing before. I was in the same boat just over a week ago.
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Happy Travels, Brodie