Surf & Yoga society at UAL
At uni I was a part of Surf and Yoga society, I instantly fell in love with yoga and attended regularly. However, up until December 2018 I had no idea why they called it Surf and Yoga society as we are in London and last time I checked the only surfing people do here is on the internet. Turns out this society organises surfing trips at least once a year to Morocco. I really wish I knew that earlier so I could go to more of them, so if you’re a UAL student sign up now. It is still one of the best trips I did in my life. You might not believe me when I tell you it is actually affordable but everyone who knows me know how broke I was during uni and I was able to make it work. And if constant money shortage is not your problem you will be glad to hear you can buy a year’s worth of premium natural cosmetics there.
Surprisingly flight tickets are by far not the biggest part of the trip budget. You can buy a return ticket to Agadir for £80. We all bought our own tickets and flew from Stansted and Gatwick to meet in Agadir. The airport is the best place to buy all the alcohol you want to drink through the whole trip as it is also the last place you will be able to buy it. Then our lovely driver took us to the accommodation in a van that brings back school trip memories.
Accommodation and Taghazout
We stayed in Taghazout a little surf town by the western coast. Coming to Morocco in a surfing season to a surfing town you don’t really get a genuine north-western Africa experience. You will see far more tourists than locals, women walking in swimsuits (unthinkable in other parts of Morocco) and as many surf schools as regular houses. We stayed in a 3 story house that resembled mountain shelters I used to stay at with my parents during our trekking trips more than a hotel. So if you are expecting 3-star hotel you might be sleeping alone. We had delicious breakfast and dinner prepared for us at our surf school down the road every day. Whole days we were always accompanied by bunch of dogs and puppies (my idea of heaven). They were with us in the town and even joined us at the beach.
It was my first time surfing and I loved it. It is a crazy difficult sport but you can still enjoy it amateur style just catching small white waves close to the coast. First you learn basics at the beach, then how to simply catch a wave and in no time you get a hang of it and actually manage to stand on the board. I can’t tell you enough how satisfying the feeling of catching a wave is – you need to experience it for yourself. At the beach you can get a fresh moroccan tea for 10 Dirham (delicious, especially after coming exhausted out of cold water), ride a horse or a camel and even buy some textiles (I am so mad I didn’t buy that blanket). I am usually against ridding camels or horses as they tend to be treated poorly. However, here you could see they were properly taken care of so I was tempted to go for a ride. Anyone who rides will agree that there is nothing better than galloping on the beach.
Tips for the trip
Morocco’s currency is Dirham – a closed currency which means you can’t buy or sell it outside of the country. My advice is to bring cash and exchange it all at the airport when you arrive. Taking money out of the ATM in the city is an adventure in itself. After selecting the amount you want to withdraw it tells you it is unavailable and suggest you take a higher amount (no matter which one you chose). So if you really need to take out extra cash and want for example 500 dirham select 400 so you actually end up getting 500. I would also suggest going to the ATM with your whole group as you can literally see people being more interested in what you are doing than they should be. One thing important to mention is that there is no such a thing as a set price there – you are expected to haggle about everything. It is almost like a national sport there. My advice if you want to buy something is to figure out what do you want to pay for it, suggest it and if they are not happy don’t buy it (but don’t underestimate the power of ‘the walk away’).
Moroccan food is delicious! It is however worth remembering you are in a completely different climate with bacteria and environment your body is not accustomed to. That said only drink bottled water (I suggest using bottled water for washing your teeth as well). Even if you took all of the precautions you still might end up getting sick. To be fair it is best to just assume you will and get on with it (what’s 2 hours of vomiting for a week of great fun, right?). Still it is best to bring along some indigestion pills and antibacterial gel (to use almost constantly).
As with all traveling you need to remember you are a guest in someone else’s country and should respect their culture and traditions. I said that in surf towns it is common to see women in swimsuits on the streets, I did not say it happens without any comments from local guys. And although as a feminist I had to fight myself constantly not to respond to cat calling I would suggest wearing something on top and avoiding confrontation.
Calling/texting is crazy expensive (not to mention internet) and although you will have wifi at the hotel so you can just do all of your business then there is another way if you’re an addict. Some people from the trip bought a sim card with 10GB at the airport for around £10 and just used that through the whole trip.
Let’s not forget you are going far away to try new sport so it is always worth buying a simple insurance (I think I paid for mine like £8). Better safe than sorry.
In the day you can enjoy sunbathing and perfect beach weather so dresses and shorts are a good call. However, in the mornings and evenings the temperature goes down 10 degrees so be sure to pack jumpers/jackets and sweatpants. Flip flops obvi, but do bring some sneakers as well so you can go trekking. Sunscreen is also a must and if you want it might be also handy to bring some sunblock as well. Evenings are best spend playing games and talking on the terrace so think of bringing some cards, CAH or any other social games you enjoy.
- Sunscreen + sunblock
- Moisturiser cream
- Antibacterial gel
- Indigestion pills
- Flip flops and proper shoes
- Games for the evenings
- Camera/Gopro if you can take pictures (but do keep an eye on it all the time)
- Good backpack to carry your stuff to the beach (I bought mine in Decathlon for £9)