Kitesurf holidays Essaouira
If you live in Europe then when it comes to looking at your spring/summer/autumn kitesurf holiday options there are plenty of destinations which won’t leave you feeling too far from home. You could head to the Canaries, Tarifa or Greece where the ‘holiday’ vibe, the kite-focused setup, and those colorful Euro notes all feel pretty familiar – like your favorite pair of boardies. Which is great. But what if you want something more than that… what if you want to feel a bit further from home and a bit out of your comfort zone? Then why not opt for a quick hop across the Mediterranean to Morocco, where the kiting is still quality, but you can get a nice hit of ‘culture’ while you’re at it. This is Africa after all…
Okay, let’s start with the basics: I’ve heard Africa’s a pretty big place. Can you narrow down the airport options if I want to Kitesurf Morocco?
For sure. Your best bet is to fly to Marrakech. Flight times from main European airports are between 3 and 4 hours. Not bad hey.
Gotcha, Marrakech. Then what?
If you’re booked in with a kite center they may arrange transfers. But where’s the fun in that? Best bet is rent a car. Of course go for the cheapest you can find and you’re likely to turn up a gem – quite possibly a make that you have never heard of… Bear in mind that you’re probably going to be taking on some sandy beach roads so no point splashing out. Then just dig out your compass and head due west. Once you’re out of the city you’re basically talking one very long, very straight road. Which sounds easy but you may well encounter the odd stray goat or a cart pulled by a donkey (they ain’t so quick) so you need to keep your wits about you…
And I heard there’s the odd police ‘checkpoint’?
Indeed. They are pretty hard to fathom out. There are some laws being enforced, but in the way they were originally intended? Probably not. Have your driving license, the car’s papers and your best smile at the ready. And failing that 100 Dirham will probably do it.
Okay, so I’m there. I want to go kitesurfing in Essaouria.
You’re in the right place then. Essaouira is one big ol’ beach… It stretches for a couple of miles south of the main part of the city, which means that you have got plenty of options for kitesurfing whatever floats your boat. The prevailing northerly wind can be a smidge gusty having navigated and whistled its way through the town, but for freestyle the closer you are to the harbor the flatter it is and you can get some lovely, buttery conditions. For waves, the southern end of the beach picks up windslop if the wind is stonking, or can get some decent groundswell and be the only rideable place when everywhere else is mached out. There isn’t much in the way of banks though, so if close-out sections are your thing you’re away. Whatever you’re riding though, you can expect the king of all kitesurfing sunset sessions. The wind stays up as the sun goes down and it is pretty special…
And what if I want to get my money’s worth out of the hire car? This is where that long straight drive pays off… If riding waves is your thing then you have a couple of prime options: Sidi Kouki to the south or Moulay to the north. Kitesurfing Moulay’s a pretty badass reef set up with a hardcore windsurfing contingent but can be truly epic… Kitesurfing Sidi Kouki is sandier and friendlier. They are both about 40 minutes drive but in the opposite direction, and if you go to Essaouira you can pretty much guarantee that you will choose the wrong one on at least one occasion and waste half the morning driving around.
What’s this I’ve heard about ‘CHHAMMAAALLLLLS’?
Ah, yes no trip to Essaouira is complete without a ride on a CHHAMMMAAAALLLL. Or camel. This is pretty cool, but you will then spend the rest of your trip trying to avoid being blagged in to a second ride on a camel. And trying to avoid stepping in camel shit.
Anything else worth checking out?
As with most Moroccan cities it’s all about the medina. This is a walled part of the city with a maze of alleyways and shop-upon-shop selling either a) Very very cool handmade wooden stuff, b) Very very cool pots and painted stuff, or c) Knock off Beats [not] by Dre™ headphones. But, essentially, it’s very cool with a lot of great restaurants and nice places to have a nose around. If you’re sorting out your own accommodation it’s worth spending a couple of nights staying within the medina.
Cool, sounds like a winner – I’m pretty much sold. Anything else to watch out for?
Beat up Mercedes, super-sweet mint tea and coming back with a tan and feeling like you have actually seen a bit of the world… Kitesurfing Morocco is the full trip!
Getting there: Fly to Marrakech. Or you could do Agadir… Or if you have a Learjet you can park it up at Essaouira airport.
Best season: Summer is very windy and hot. Spring and autumn a bit less windy and a bit less hot.
In the bag: Check the forecast. You may need a 5 in summer, and you may need a 12 in winter.
Not in the bag: Camel snacks.
Rubber: Borderline, but a shorty in summer and a 3/2 the rest of the year should be fine.
Beer: In a hotel/bar about €3.50. Or seek out a bottle shop (an enjoyably seedy experience) where you’ll pay €1.