Agadir, Morocco – September 2018

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Yoga and Surf retreat with Easy Surf Maroc, Aourir 

A quick thank you to Nikki and Hicham who provided me with some of this information (included in the information pack).

General information

Country: Morocco Capital: Rabat
Head of state: Mohammed VI, King of Morocco
Religion: 99% Muslim, 1% Christian Language: Arabic, French often used
Currency: Dirham (MAD) 10 Dirhams = approximately 1 Euro
Time Zone: GMT -1
Weather: Generally >21°

Cultural Characteristics
Moroccans are very welcoming and tolerant. Whilst most of the people are religious, they are generally easy-going and most young Moroccan women don’t wear a veil. While visiting religious places or places such as the souk, it is advised to dress conservatively and observe current rules and regulations. On the contrary visiting particular sites such as the beach and paradise valley, it was more acceptable to wear shorts, bikini’s etc.
Alcohol can only be bought in special shops in Agadir or licensed super markets but is hardly sold in restaurants or cafés.

Vaccinations
Up-to-date on routine vaccines. Including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. To avoid diarrhoea and other diseases, reduce your risk by sticking to bottled water.

Entry Requirements
European travellers normally don’t need a visa to enter Morocco for the purpose of tourism for up to 3 months. When entering the country, make sure your passport is stamped.
Prior to passing customs you’ll need to fill out a form where you have to mention the address you’ll be staying at.

My Experience:

Before booking

From the moment of booking Maroc Surf and yoga retreat in Morocco, I felt slightly anxious but also excited, as this was my first solo trip away. This might not sound so adventurous to some but being a young Indian girl and having grown up in a conservative Indian family, this was slightly out of the norm. But I did it anyway.

I started my search for the perfect retreat by using www.bookyogaretreats.com. I had previously researched many yoga retreats and in my opinion this provided the best selection of retreats all around the world.

So I set my filters and found Easy Surf Maroc in Agadir, Morocco. Once I had booked, I received a message from Nikki and Hicham, who run the retreat. They sent me a welcome pack, which included useful information such as address phone, phone numbers etc. and tips. This immediately made me feel at ease and confident enough to break the news to my mum and granny… it didn’t go down so well with them but they couldn’t stop me.

Arrival

I packed up and set off to the airport to find that my flight had been delayed. I whatsapped Nikki to inform her and she told me not to worry and that they were watching from the other side. Once the plane landed in Agadir, I passed through security and outside I met with a man named Ashram, who was there to take me to the yoga house (transfers also included in the package). It was about a 30-45 minute journey from the airport and once I had arrived, I was greeted by Nikki and Myla (the dog) who then showed me around the house and my room. My room was called Fatima, which was triple shared room with a shared bathroom. I’ve always been a bit reluctant to share a room and bathroom however, I trusted the reviews on bookyogaretreats.com and the cleanliness of the rooms were better than expected.. It was clearly well maintained.

The whole house looked like something from a pinterest post. The balcony that overlooked the mountains had sofa’s with Moroccon style cushions sat on it. You could sit and enjoy the view or even read a book. It was cute, cosy and very hygge. I had only just arrived and it already felt like home.

Yoga and surf

The day usually started at 8.30am with a yoga session on the rooftop shala. With our yoga instructor, Iona (who was also from London), we practised yoga with the view of the hills and the sound of the rooster. It was very relaxing and just what I needed to start my day.

For breakfast there was a selection of breads, egg, cheese, yoghurts, fruit, museli, jams, nuts, seeds and much more… I was not going hungry. For a homemade breakfast and compared to other retreats that I had been on, I was impressed with the variety.

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After breakfast Nabeel (our surf instructor) fitted me up with a wetsuit and we headed out to the beach. Driving to the beach took about 15minutes and once there, we unloaded and set camp. Nabeel showed us the “pop-up” which was basically how to get from lying on the board to standing and surfing. As this was not my first time surfing, it was a good refresher. Once out in the sea and after my first fall, I realised that the waves are a lot harsh and bigger than what I had expected. I was constantly slapped in the face by the waves and my head pounding in pain… which wasn’t so fun, but I still went back out as I was determined to master it – especially since I had done so well during my first time surfing in Chennai.

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Nabeel gave a few useful tips to avoid the head pain:

  • this might be obvious but to avoid water from going into the nose thus, head in pain; hold onto your nose when falling into the water and keep on hold until head out of water.
  • When popping and surfing, the direction you look is the direction you will end up at, ergo don’t look down

Also some general surf tips (surfers might not agree but this is something that I discovered): When you see a wave coming don’t take too long to decide what you’re going to do. Don’t panic otherwise you’ll end up wash machining it. If a wave is coming towards you, you can choose do the following:

  • Hold onto the surf board in a cobra and use it as a shield (advised for smaller waves).
  • Dive and swim with the wave (not forgetting to tug the surf board as it’s attached to you)

Apres surf, we chilled on the beach for a few hours, lunch was also included in the package which the house chefs nicely packed in the cooler box for us.

We would usually arrive back at the house late afternoon. Most of us would jump into the pool whilst others pushed/dropped/pulled in – thanks to our surf instructors Ileas and Nabeel. We had a lot of fun splashing and jumping into the pool from the balcony. It sounds crazy and loud but if you’re after something a little more chilled, there was also the option of hiding and chilling on the balcony. (NOTE: this didn’t work for me)

Like a family we set the dinner table and enjoyed the food, which was freshly prepared by chefs that would come to the house to cook our meals. All meals were vegetarian friendly and each day the meal was different; bbq grills, soups, tagine, and Friday couscous.

Paradise valley

After some early morning yoga and breakfast we were instructed to get ready as we were heading out to Paradise Valley. Packing list included: swimwear, sun lotion, water and to wear trainers. It took about 40minutes to drive (a little longer for our car as we stopped for some pictures).

The hike wasn’t too long at all -it was about 10-15minutes from where we had parked. It was hot. On our climb to Paradise Valley we passed a few cafes, some of which had tables and chairs in a pond, aimed to enjoy the view whilst cooling the feet. My feet were already itching to walk towards the café. When we got to Paradise Valley, it was beautiful. People chilling along the cliffs, whilst others jumping and swimming in. If you’ve seen the movie “the beach” with Leonardo Dicaprio, the atmosphere was very similar to that in the movie. Carefree and high.

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After an afternoon jumping off rocks, swimming and basking in the sun, we packed up and hiked back to the cars. We made a stop at a house where we were shown how the Berber women make argan oil. We were taken on a tour around the garden where they grew their own plants used for various products such as creams, oils etc. – there was the opportunity to purchase these products at discounted prices.

Once home, it was the usual jumping into the pool, followed by dinner and chill.

Overall

Overall, if you’re looking to surf, yoga and generally chill with a homely feeling, then this is for you. When I came back to reality I felt very much like I had just come back from The Beach (movie reference – watch it!). I have never met a bunch of people who love the water so much that they go for a dip anytime of the day (even if it is at 2am in the morning). Nikki and Hicham were very accommodating and super friendly. Nabeel and Ileas were a lot of fun and the chefs (sorry I didn’t catch their names) made me fat as I always went back for seconds. Whilst I had spent just over a week, it felt like home and I do hope to return.

More useful information

Darija (Moroccan Arabic): Some useful expressions

  • As-salam-aleikum – Traditional greeting to say „hi“ (meaning: Peace be with you) Short version: Salam, answer: Aleikum-as-salam
  • Besslama – Goodbye!
  • Labas? – How are you? (It’s the answer at the same time)
  • Na-am – yes
  • Lä – no
  • Shokran bezaf – Thank you very much.
  • Merhaba – Welcome

Things to do in Agadir:

Tourists mainly come to Agadir to surf and beach however, there are plenty of other activities to do during your visit. There are parts of Agadir that seem more like a resort but if you go higher up north towards Taghazout you’ll see a lot more locals and surfers there.

It’s easy to find excursions whilst you’re out in Agadir. On some of the beaches there are opportunities to go horse or camel riding. I paid about 50 dirhams, for a 15minute horse ride on the beach. Or you could just enquire at where you’re staying.

From some of the articles that I pre-read prior to visiting mentioned visiting the souk on a Sunday. I went on a Friday late afternoon/ early evening and I still managed to do a good shop. When visiting the souks, try and haggle down prices as most shops price items higher expecting you to haggle them down. Compared to the markets in Marrakech, I was not hassled as much but then again, this could be due to the fact that I went during an off-peak period.

Some of the other activities I did other than yoga and surfing was:

  • Horse riding
  • Visiting the souk
  • Trip to paradise valley (included in the retreat)
  • Hamman and massage (I would recommend Taghazout Golden SPA, I paid around 400dirhams for a massage and hamman and left feeling like a new woman

Other activities available include:

  • Sandboarding in dessert
  • Trip to Essaaouira
  • Quad biking (can be found on beach)
  • Buggy riding (can be found on beach)

And many more!

If you do however prefer to pre-book excursions or want to take a look at what’s available, a website I found: https://www.admiremorocco.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoMylgtP03QIVTeR3Ch2G2wd3EAAYASAAEgIxGvD_BwE

Anyways, that’s it folks! Hope you’ve enjoyed this post!

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