From north to south I journeyed
across Morocco’s enchanting land
from the mountains in Chefchaoeun
As a woman on my own you can imagine
walking in the street I heard constantly
“bonjour madame, nice ass!”
Eventually I closed myself
to anyone who came near
when they shouted and hollered
I pretended I couldn’t hear.
I missed the easy freedom
I always felt at the beach
though I knew my home in Costa Rica
was much too far to reach.
Then I remembered the rumors
of a laid back surfer enclave
with yoga overlooking the ocean
and legendary waves.
So when I could no longer handle
the madness of the souk
I went to take it easy
in that town called Taghazout.
Shaken and shattered from Marrakech
I showed up to the one road town
I checked in at Surf Berbere
greeted by the nicest guys around.
Slowly I began to trust
in the genuine kindness of others
I smiled and waved to strangers
the guys at Surf Berbere became my brothers.
Hours became days
days became weeks
I melted into the rhythm
of surf eat sleep repeat.
Rising early morning
to the sound of the crashing waves
walking down to breakfast
at the oceanfront café.
Piling into the van with the gang
hunting for the best surfing place
running out into the ocean
constantly falling on my face.
Taking a break at lunchtime
my skin kissed by the sun and the breeze
turning down all the offers
for camel rides, hippie pants, and mint tea.
Sun soaked and exhausted
on the van ride back to town
singing Moroccan Reggae
so happy I didn’t drown.
Just enough time for a shower
then off to yoga to stretch it out
taking moments of silence
to remember what life is about.
The sun beginning to disappear
behind the rocks at Anchor Point
couples on holiday romantically watching
youngins’ stopping to roll a joint.
As I watched the colors bleed
and disappear beyond me
I realized that in Taghazout
I found myself truly happy.
Without any shoes with my crazy hair
and feral cats all around me
I had everything I could ever need
so I became blissfully lazy.
I had the moon and the stars and the sea.
I had the love of my adopted family.
I could have stayed there for all eternity.
This American Girl’s Guide to Taghazout
How to Get to Taghazout
Taghazout is located on Morocco’s West Coast just a 30 minute drive North of Agadir. Taghazout iself is a small one road town, but it’s within a short drive or bus ride from many different beaches and surf spots. If you’re coming from Marrakech, you’ll likely take the Supratours or CTM bus (3.5 hours, 150MAD) to Agadir. In Agadir you can negotiate a private taxi for around 100MAD ($10), take the public bus for about 7MAD, or find a share taxi with 6 other Moroccans for about 10MAD. If you plan to come from elsewhere on the coast, your best bet is to have your own transportation. From Essaouira to Taghazout you can take a share taxi for about 1.5 hours and $6.
When to Go to Taghazout
Hardcore surfers looking for the towering overhead waves should stick to the Winter months, when all of the spots are working and the swells get massive. Surf tends to be big from October through March, though there can be swells throughout the year. Beginners can surf all year round in the white water, which means any time is the ideal time. In May the water starts to warm up and stays warm through November. In the winter the water can be very cold. If you’re used to the tropics like me, you’ll want to wear a wetsuit when surfing the whole year. This is Morocco, so you’ve got sunshine year round. When I was there in April/May we had mostly sunny days, some days with clouds in the morning that burned off by afternoon. Evenings tend to be chilly.
Where to Stay in Taghazout
New places to stay in Taghazout seem to pop up almost daily. Some are basic hostels, others sophisticated yet small hotels, but most are surf schools where you can customize a vacation package. There are now dozens of surf schools where you can stay, but these are my top picks.
I’m not sure anywhere has felt like home as quickly as Surf Berbere. I planned to stay for a few nights and wound up at Surf Berbere for more than two weeks. The staff (a combination of local Moroccan surfers and British transplants) are so unbelievably welcoming and make you feel instantly like family. No egos, no cliques, everyone is always included. They have a wide range of accommodation options, for all different budgets and travel styles, and you can go all inclusive with room, surf lessons, yoga, and meals, mix and match, or just book the room itself. The surf house has several cozy rooms with lounge areas and balconies overlooking the ocean, with a big rooftop terrace with an epic view where everyone has family dinner at sunset. Just nearby are different apartments owned by Surf Berbere, with brand new interiors and floor to ceiling windows right at Hash Point where you can watch the surfers. Groups, families, and couples, may opt for an apartment while solo travelers on a budget may choose the dorm room or one of the smaller private rooms. The family dinners are surprisingly delicious, ranging from traditional tagine to fish BBQ to pizza baked in a traditional Berber wood oven, plus they’re very accommodating for dietary restrictions. All the details aside, the best thing about staying at Surf Berbere is feeling like you’re part of a community. The guys there are like brothers to me, always looking out and putting a smile on my face. Genuinely it’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed in, anywhere in the world, and I can’t imagine staying in Taghazout anywhere else.
It may not have the intimate feel of Surf Berbere, but Surf Maroc is the best known and most established of all the surf schools in Taghazout, and with good reason. Their buildings are gorgeously designed and decorated and the quality of what they produce is excellent. For me, the main advantage in staying here over somewhere else is for the yoga retreats. They have a fully dedicated yoga retreat center where they run ongoing retreats with twice daily yoga and options for bodywork. They also host girls’ surf weeks. I hear their all inclusive packages are more expensive than some of the other spots, but their hostel The Auberge is very affordable with nice rooms starting at just $30 per night. I’m a huge fan of their restaurants (read more in the What to Eat section) and they have an Open Mic Night and Acoustic night where you can come for live entertainment.
Call me romantic, but if I had been traveling with friends I would have stayed in the area around Taghazout in a camper van. There’s tons of gorgeous wild tundra north and south of Taghazout and I can’t imagine a better way to experience it than camping. Die hard surfers in particular can enjoy waking up at the best spots and surfing before the vans of tourists arrive. Me? I’d just love to watch the stars.
Where to Eat in Taghazout
If you’re staying at a surf camp, it’s tempting to want to have all of your meals there. However, Taghazout has some delicious cafes worth peeling yourself away from the surf house long enough to try.
$9 for three course dinner
Owned by a French couple, this Moroccan European restaurant serves the most delicious food in Taghazout. Everything is fresh, flavorful, and perfectly prepared. Don’t leave without ordering the whole fish of the day (yes, caught that day) and the grilled kefta. Both are exceptional. Be forewarned, cats and dogs will be begging for your food, but it’s worth the nuisance.
$3 for juice and smoothies, $7 for salads
When you’re tired of bread and tagine and you just want something genuinely healthy, go to Cafe Mouja run by Surf Maroc. I came here nearly every day for the green juice (yes, they have green juice!!) and beet salad with lentils and arugula. It’s light and bright with big windows and beautiful Moroccan textiles. The perfect late afternoon chill out spot to do some reading, writing, or catching up on the computer. Friday nights they have live acoustic music and Sundays come in for Open Mic. They also have a surprisingly awesome collection of vintage clothing in the front, scored from the local markets.
$3 for juice and smoothies, $7 for mains
Right across from the beach beside the fisherman’s wharf, the Auberge has an awesome community feel. It’s the kind of spot that people come to every day to sip on coffee and write poetry… or something like that. It’s also run by Surf Maroc, downstairs from the Auberge hostel, and has a great selection of both Western and Moroccan food. Admittedly, I didn’t try much on the menu because their falafel salad was so damn good I ate it every time I came. They also have homemade ginger beer, real ginger beer, that I about died over. Also be sure to try the avocado, banana, date smoothie. On Thursdays they have a BBQ on the rooftop terrace with live music and a huge buffet spread. Be sure to book your spot ahead.
After a long day of surfing you’re bound to need some snacks before dinnertime. Fortunately there are tons of little shops on the main road selling fruit, vegetables, and some dry goods. My go to snack is raw almonds (local and very affordable) and fresh pear.
If you’ve rented an apartment and are keen to cook, pop by the fish monger stand just in front of the beach in town in the morning.
What to Do in Taghazout
Duh. If you don’t try surfing while in Taghazout, you’ll be missing out on the main attraction. Newbies can sign up for lessons through their surf school while more advanced surfers can organize drop offs. You can also easily take the ALSA bus to different breaks very inexpensively. Some of the most famous breaks include Devil’s Rock (south of Taghazout), K17 (popular spot for beginners), Panoramas, Hash Point (right in front of town), Anchor Point, Boilers, Mysteries, and La Source. If you’re there at the right time, it’s a playground for surfers with so many different spots to choose from.
Thanks to the popularity of surf in Taghazout, you can also find very high quality yoga. Most surf schools offer yoga courses and places like Surf Maroc and D’Frost actually host yoga retreats. I was blessed enough to meet one of my favorite yoga teachers I’ve ever practiced with, Tara South, at Surf Maroc. She provides some of the best instructions for getting into postures of any teacher I’ve known, and does an incredible job of helping newbies feel safe and advanced yogis feel challenged. Love love love this woman and am not so secretly trying to get her over to Costa Rica. Katie who teaches at Surf Berbere oozes positivity and gives yummy classes that focus a ton on hamstrings and shoulders (exactly what you need after a day of surf). Also sync up with Chanti Mai who offers Balinese massage and occasionally teaches yoga at Surf Berbere. She is a sweetheart and beams light.
If the surf is flat or you can manage to pull yourself away from the waves, a day trip out to Paradise Valley is well worth it. I went for the day with Surf Berbere and had an amazing time hiking in the mountains and jumping off of rocks into crystal clear turquoise pools. I also hear it’s a great place to spend the night, where there’s no electricity and you can really see the stars. Share taxis can take you in and out for cheap, and you can sleep and eat at one of the cafes.
Explore the Coast
The further north you head from Taghazout, the more rugged and gorgeous the beaches become. One of my favorite places to spend the day was in the fishing village Imsouane, famous for it’s 2 minute long wave and laid back vibe. Read more about that in my post The Day I Fell in Love With Morocco.