South Atlantic Coast (Morocco)
The South Atlantic Coast of Morocco is more laidback than its northern counterpart, home to some great beach towns.
Morocco is a hidden gem, close to Europe, yet a million miles away, this blend of tradition Berber, with Arabian, African and French influences, it has been a popular destination for French visitors for many years. The young King's vision has seen rapid development with new homes, developments and infrastructure yet maintaining traditions, you will notice that the King can be seen everyone is very much respected in this truly unique country.
There are not many countries where one day you could be surfing, the next in the mountains skiing and on the third day having a round of golf at one of the championship courses. This region of Morocco offers such a wide mixture of things to do, or if you just need to chill out it is the perfect destination.
There is huge tolerance in Morocco, with people who are genuinely warm and hospitable. But do bear in mind this is an Islamic country, do respect local customs. Don't drink alcohol in the street or get drunk on the beach. Do not buy alcohol for locals or offer it to them. Moroccans can't drink like Europeans and if you get them drunk, you will be responsible for their actions.
Ladies think about what you are wearing. What we would find acceptable in Europe isn't acceptable here and could result in you being harassed or being flashed at or worse. Sadly the perception is that a woman shows her body she is easy and will become a target. Saying that you don't have to wear a veil! Showing respect for Islamic culture will earn you the respect of locals, keep beachwear for beside the pool or the beach.
The language is Berber in this region, though everyone speaks Arabic and many will speak French. It is worth learning a few words of Arabic or at least know some basic French, especially as menu's will be in French.
English is spoken among some younger people.
Understand and appreciate that this is Africa and things work at a slower pace, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
Haggling apart from in restaurants and in fixed price shops is expected and should be enjoyed.
The international airport is Al-Massira (AGA) and is situated on the outskirts between the towns of Inezgane and Ait Melloul. It takes about 20/30 minutes to get from the airport to the centre of Agadir The international airport links Morocco to Europe with regular flights from many European cities. There are frequent flights to Casablanca with flights to USA and further afield.
Shared taxis are also a great way to get here from Marrakech with the new motorway the journey time is now just 2 and a half hours.
Car hire is available but expensive. It is easy to get around by petite taxi, grand taxi, bus or by hiring a private driver.
In Agadir the taxi terminal is at the Batoir. Here you can get a shared grand taxi, for 6 passengers to all towns and suburbs. They have a fixed price and you can hire a whole taxi or buy each seats. Grand taxi's don't go until all six places are sold. The journey can be cramped, so it is worth buying extra seats to have more space and also to speed up the journey.
The orange petite taxi just travel around the city limits. They are cheap, but check that the meter is working before you start of or at least fix a price. Add a few dirhams or round up the fare as the tip.
Buses are extremely cheap and plentiful linking the whole city and suburbs. You will need the correct coins, most fares are between 5-10 dhs. They link the whole city and suburbs and are great to venturing outside Agadir to try the beaches at Tamraght
The new airport is situated about 30 minutes from the centre of town.
There is a lot to see and do depending on what you like to do. Beaches are certainly number one on the agenda and or you can just relax or surf. Camel and horse riding.
Marrakech is a great day out, get up early, or stay overnight. It is just over two hours away.
Imouzzer traditional Berber town, perched in the Atlas mountains, great for hikers. A great day trip or stay overnight.
The South Atlantic Coast is ideal to mix with a few days in Marrakech after a hectic time in the city, come to the coast to relax, surf, play golf, hike, bird watch!
Watersports. Morocco and the South Atlantic Coast are a great place for activities like surfing, kiteboarding, SUP. During summer months, the afternoons are quite windy, so it will suit kiteboarders better, but surfers can still have some good time especially in the morning. From October onwards, the winds are less powerful and surfing is better. There are plenty of schools all along the coast where you can surf or kite lessons like Magicfun. You can also rent equipment with rentasurfboard.com
Beaches. This huge stretch of coastline provides some of the best beaches in the world. The bay of Agadir has a great beach, but head north or south and you will find an array of deserted beaches and coves.
Tamraght has some excellent beaches with one section ideal for those who want to bath or have children. There are also great areas for surfers. Sunbeds and parasols can be hired for 10dhs. Drinks and simple food is available. For excellent seafood try Brahims restaurant, right on the beach overlooking the fishing boats.
Imouzzer. Head for a day trip or an overnight visit to this traditional Berber town perched high up in the Atlas mountains. Imouzzer is Famous for its honey, argan oil, handicrafts especially made from almond. Don't miss the amazing cascades or waterfalls, which are at their best in spring time. The honey festival runs in May and August.
Hammam. A hammam is a steam house, Turkish baths or communal bathing house which date back to when people didn't have bathrooms at home. The hammam is divided into two, one section for men, one for women. At some hammams attached to mosques they have different times for men and women. To visit a Hamman is the experience something of real Morocco, it really is a great experience. In the men's section, you are never naked, when changing do it discreetly so no-one can see you! Make sure you wear swim shorts. In the women's section I have heard mixed stories and it varies often naked women are naked. Moroccan women use the hammam as a place to socialise with other women and it is not uncommon for generations of ladies to enjoy the experience together. Usually people visit a hammam before going to mosque. Western women often say it is the best place to meet real Moroccan women and form friendships. It is also a great place to get an invitation to a real Morocco home for dinner! Massages are provided, when you go in, pay and ask for a massage or scrub. You will be given special argan soap that is scrubbed all over you. There is a hot room with taps and buckets of cold water. Visiting a hammam is a wonderful cleansing experience. Many of the larger hotels have hammams, but if you want to try a local one head for Aourir a hammam with massage and soap is 60 dhs. Do take a towel with you.
Agadir being a large tourist city has just about every type of food available. Along the corniche, or the seafront there are a wide range of cafes and restaurants, this tends to be the most expensive place to eat. You will also find Lebanese, Indian, Chinese as well as KFC, Mcdonalds and Subway.
For cheaper food head towards Batoir, which is where all the taxi's are situation. There are lots of local eating establishments. Chicken is popular and a meal can cost as little as 40dhs.
Talborjt is are area of Agadir which has some excellent restaurants, which are very well priced.
Many of the restaurants are dry, if you want alcohol then expect to pay a premium and the establishment will be very much catering for tourists.
Being on the coast excellent seafood is available.
There are a huge array of bars, nightclubs and discos in Agadir Many of the areas outside of Agadir are dry, so if you are staying out of the city then buy your alcohol and bring it with you as it is hard to get and expensive.
Casablanca and Flag are two local beers, which are both good. Morocco produces excellent wine and is worth buying, the roses are great and reasonable priced. In Agadir head for the Marjane supermarket which has a large wine selection. Imported beers and spirits/liquor are expensive compared to Europe, this is a Muslim country and locals tend to refrain from alcohol.
Tea or Moroccan Whisky is the drink that will be offered to you everywhere. When you visit a shop, a home, almost anywhere you will always be offered tea. This delicious drink is a blend of Chinese gunpowder tea, fresh mint and lots of sugar. Served in small glasses it is a ritual to be enjoyed.
Orange juice sellers can be found on most street corners and will serve you the freshest most delicious glass of orange juice you have ever tasted. If you want to buy a carton in the local shop, Marrakech Orange juice is a great brand and has less added sugar than other brand names.
There is a delicious avocado smoothie which I would recommend to anyone visiting Morocco. This blend of avocado, milk, dates and sugar may not sound great but I promise you it is to die for! Many coffee shops and patisserie's make them. When in Aurior head to the patisserie get one, they really do make the best!
Crime is rare, but you have to take care of your safety as you would anywhere else in the world.
Since the Marrakech bombings in 2011 where 17 people were killed, the Morocco security services take the security of visitors seriously. Not only will you see lots of uniformed police, there are countless undercover officers, which is very assuring. Many hotels and bars have security on the door.
If you are in a bar or club and see an unattended bag, then let staff know as you would do in London or New York.
Don't take large sums of cash to the beach, avoid taking iphones or ipads to the beach, which will draw unwanted attention.
Avoid the beach at night unless in a group. In Agadir the lights along the seafront are dimmed at 10pm, though people are usually out and about until after midnight. The beaches further up the coast have no lights or cafes and can be isolated at nightfall.
There have been reports of break-in's of homes belonging to Europeans and many apartments and villas have guardians these are local men who act as security. If you are staying out of the main resorts it is worth asking when you book your accommodation whether there is a guardian.
If there is a safe box in your accommodation, do use it. Lock away your passport and carry a photocopy of it.
Police frequently stop traffic, especially when leaving or arriving into a town. As you arrive into Aurior there is a roadblock and the police may check the ID of passengers, especially when in a shared taxi. Don't be alarmed, politely show a photocopy of your passport or your EU drivers licence with a smile is usually enough. There is something very reassuring about security. Remember the police want to help ensure that your stay in the Kingdom is a safe one so your cooperation is appreciated. These checks can be more frequent when the King or royalty is in town.
Begging can be a problem, avoid eye contact. Women sometimes sit outside pharmacies trying to get money for asthma inhalers. It would be wiser to buy the inhaler rather than give the cash. If you see genuine beggars, especially sat outside a mosque with there heads low, it is a good deed to give a few dirhams, especially when people are disabled or blind. There is no social security and unemployment is high. Though please don't give cash to young people who harass you, with stories of their granny needing an operation or a sibling needing cancer drugs, these are just stories to make you hand over your money. Avoid giving as it just helps create a culture of begging amongst the young. There are excellent charities and NGO's including the Moroccan Red Cross, which provides healthcare to the poor. If you have extra money then give to charities.
Young men may approach you asking if you want chocolate. "chocolat, chocolat" Can often we heard, these guys are trying to sale you drugs and should be avoided. A firm "lah" is enough for them to leave you alone. You can sometimes get surrounded by groups of young guys, just smile and carry on walking.
Moroccans are very friendly and young Moroccans will be keen to strike up conversations with you. Though you have to remember that unemployment is high and this is Africa and people are much poorer than in Europe, everyone is trying to make a living and tourists are seen as a cash cow!
A polite no thank you is often enough, a firm "Lah" which is no in arabic can do the trick. If asked if this is your first time in Morocco it is wise to say you come frequently, this way you are less likely to fall for any scams.
One word that will come in handy and you will hear a lot is Inshallah, which translate to God Willing. If someone asks you to go to a shop, a look at property Inshallah is sufficient. Its a polite way of saying no.