Learning to Surf in Morocco
There are three things you need to know about attending a surf retreat. Number one: while the word ‘retreat’ has you thinking of those zen moments and inner healing prowesses, unfortunately surf camp is quite the opposite and the process isn’t pretty. You’ve got to be prepared for those leg in the air, hair in the mouth moments that are unfortunately always the ones caught on camera.
Number two: in this case it is true when they say there’s no gain without pain. Dead weight biceps and deep aching thighs become frequent visitors, and unfortunately battling through is the only option in order to continue the journey to surf master – or in my case surf-just-about-stander-upper. Over the week a new set of aches and pains emerges each morning, acting as proof that you are busting some serious exercise butt.
Number three: all of the “oh I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus” moments are totally worth it. After days of surf adrenaline pulling you through, a bunch of tumbles and numerous near misses, those seconds of ultimate power gliding through the waves are worth working for.
And what better backdrop to have to this hardcore summer work out than the serene sands of Morocco. Year round waves and soaring temps makes the African metropolis an ideal place to hone down those water sporting skills while enjoying a bit of Arabian culture. Think camel rides, hidden valleys and starlit nights to encompass a week of surf training.
In the eastern shores of Tamraght, not far from the city of Agadir, there are numerous surf schools itching to impart their water wisdom. For an inclusive price you can get great accommodation in a quirky home stay, all the required surf gear and a few authentic meals a day.
At Carve Surf the schedule was pretty simple: eat, sleep, surf, repeat, and the ethos was pretty direct: let’s surf. This beach break is definitely not for the summertime slob or tanning junkie, it’s an energy drainer, a body buster but really a no-brainer for those seeking an alternative with a little action and adventure.
So let’s talk surf
Each morning we’d rock up at our surf school attempting that whole tousled locks and subtly bronzed surfer chick look only to instantly lose any resemblance of that after instantaneously tumbling off the board.
Our local instructors would bundle us into a very retro car and deliver us to one of the picturesque beaches and this is where the work began. After squeezing into the spanx-style wetsuits, the instructors would deliver a thorough warm up and on-land lesson before guiding us into the waves. Cue exhaustion.
The first few sessions meant falls, hurtles and bombs as each member of our group fought to grasp the balance of the board. There was hair smeared on the face, wetsuit malfunctions and streaming noses as the water continued to battle our bodies – I said it wasn’t pretty. From mastering the basic balance to navigating the waves, each day the instructors upped the ante, encouraging us to become less of the delicate waifs we were and more of the robust surf goddesses we could be – yet probably still aren’t.
By day five of intense instruction, detailed analysis and gentle (OK pretty forceful) encouragement, every member of our trio could glide upon the Moroccan waves and more or less stay standing for at least a few seconds. While we were by no means ready to enter the next Boardmasters comp, we could certainly feign expertise and look a bit, a really small bit, like those Cameron Diaz- type girls we’d been aspiring to be.
As a reward for such a solid workout, our afternoons and evenings were filled with sunshine, souks and the casual camel ride. In Tamraght we refueled by feasting on lamb tagine and freshly caught fish and soaked up the exotic scenery on regal camels. In Agadir we were able to venture into the city’s souks and barter for leather goods and a lot of Argan oil.
With city nightlife nearby and paradisiacal valleys and lagoons to get lost in, our week of surf became a real Moroccan adventure. Not only were we giving our bodies a serious workout but we were having fun, learning a new skill and soaking up a pretty cool culture – a holiday with a twist.