Known for its colorful streets, regal riads, and artisanal shopping, Morocco may not be the first destination you think of when planning a watersports vacation. However, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, with a year-round warm climate, and a coastline stretching 2500 miles, the North African country is a haven for water-lovers. Grab your wetsuit and get ready to dive in — we’ve narrowed down the best places for watersports in Morocco.
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Strong coastal winds have aptly named this popular surf location the “Wind City of Africa” and so holiday-makers have tended to overlook Essaouira — that is, apart from surfers and windsurfers. With a crescent beach encompassed by a fortified medina and traditional white buildings, Essaouira is about as aesthetically pleasing as beaches come. The ocean water is an azure blue dotted with electric blue fishing boats, canons line the promenade, and palm trees border the golden ancient walls. Enjoy the spectrum of colors at high speeds from a jet ski — various shops and rentals on the shore offer reasonable prices for a set amount of time.
April to November are the most popular months for watersport fanatics, both beginners and advanced athletes flock to Essaouira to take advantage of the strong trade winds. Visitors are likely to see large groups kitesurfing (or ‘aérotractée board’ in French) as the city plays host to the annual Kiteboard Pro World Tour World Cup.
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North of Agadir, this fishing village is the go-to spot for surfers in Morocco. Known for its free-spirited vibes, beach-front cafes, and yoga, Taghazout’s laid-back atmosphere is great for travelers needing to escape the busy Moroccan cities. With its long stretches of coastline, get your board and head to Panorama beach. Companies offer group and private lessons for beginners. Or, if you already know what you’re doing, jump in and ride the rolling waves. Most of the beaches have sandy bottoms, making it perfect (and pain-free) to wade out into the water. Back on dry land, if you’re looking for something less tiring, you can ride a camel along the beach.
The village is currently adapting to the sudden increase in tourism from the watersports community and is developing new residential areas. One of our top picks for places to stay is with Surf Maroc, who offer stunning oceanfront accommodation in Taghazout. You can choose from a chic guest house that has an awesome social vibe, or serviced apartments if you’re looking for some privacy.
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Comfortably placed next to a natural lagoon, Morocco’s oyster capital is another village boasting optimal conditions for watersports. The tranquil place is quieter than Essaouira, boasting stunning landscapes filled with flowers and fresh, salty air. To preserve Oualidia’s natural beauty, King Mohammed VI imposed a construction ban on the shore, and visitors to the village maintain respect for the paradise-like village. The lagoon serves as a natural wave pool and is ideal for beginners because of the small-sized peaks. There are also various surf schools available for lessons. After a long day in the water, replenish at one of the fine-dining restaurants or go birdwatching, Oualidia is home to many exotic birds, including flamingos.
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Tangier is a port on the Strait of Gibraltar, marking Europe’s gateway to Africa. The gleaming white city has rapidly changed over the years and is now a cosmopolitan blend of artsy nomads and cruise ship travelers. While the water can often be polluted and not great for swimming, only 12 miles West is Plage de Sidi Kacem. People swarm to the beach for surf, sails and sunbathing. It’s also a great spot for scuba diving and discovering schools of fish and diverse marine life up close in the warm, unclouded waters. Beach clubs and cute cafes beckon anyone trudging out the water and horse rides regularly take place up and down the clean coast.
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The Moroccan capital is packed with culture and all things aquatic, largely uninterpreted by tourism. Home to the majestic Kasbah of the Udayas, street sculptures, and lavish greenery, the city overflows with culture. The French-Islamic heritage echoes through the architecture, while the Atlantic Ocean beach lies gloriously in the sunshine with crystal waters lapping at the silk sands. Udayas Beach is in the heart of Rabat and is a top pick for windsurfers who glide across the water under the shadow of the fort above. Kayaking is common and fantastic for water adventurers who prefer to savor the scenery and explore at their own pace. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, relax while listening to the waves and tucking into freshly-caught fish and chips.