Morocco (Part II)

Santosha Society girls surf trips around the world

Morocco.

We had been before, but this time was different.  This time we knew where we wanted to go.  We had friends we wanted to see.  And well to be awkwardly honest, we picked up Kona’s soul (aka conceived him) in Morocco, so it felt like a spiritual pilgrimmage to return here nearly 2 years to the day later.

Roadtrip morocco surf guideWe arrived to Marrakesh straight from Sri Lanka. The longboards were lost somewhere along the way (ironic considering they are anything but small nor inconspicuous).  Then on our drive from Marrakesh to Imsouanne, our compass (aka google maps) sent us on a backroad journey through the rarely traveled mountains of Western Morocco.  What was supposed to take 3 hours took twice as long.  Bumping along the red dirt roads, passing miles of vibrant green wheat fields and tiny stone villages, we waved to at least a hundred smiley, happy, farmers sitting peaceful on their short legged little donkeys. 

Guide to MoroccoYou would think 6 hours of driving through vast arid expanses of desert earth would become monotonous and boring, but it didn’t.  Along this stunning drive we found old ruin complexes and green palm tree oasis.  And just like, we arrived to the cliff lookout.

Standing above the quaint little town of Imsouanne in Northern Africa, this place is a sight for sore eyes.  After what felt like a week of travel, we finally made it to Magic Bay, Morocco. For you Imsouanne,  I would circumnavigate the planet time and time again.  You feel like home.  And I love you.santosha society olo surf nature amazing waves

Imsouane

While staying in Imsouanne,  My mom joined us to watch Kona so we could surf ourselves silly.  And that is exactly what I did.   I surfed miles and miles of moroccan coastline that week, without ever even getting in a car.  I mean, why leave when everything is already so damn good, right?

Taghazout Villa Maroc Yoga Retreat Kori HahnI would surf all morning and relax in the evenings, and when the dinner bell rang, I would do that too.  We stayed in the comfortable and cute upstairs apartment at Olosurfhouse.  Olos is run by two of the nicest humans on the planet.  And even though our longboards never actually made it to Imsaoune, the crew at Olos have an amazing little quiver to choose from, so it wasn’t a problem. (in other words,  you dont need to lug your longboards if you stay here). 

Another perk about Olo’s is that all the meals are served right there in the living room of the surfhouse, so you dont need to leave if you dont want to (and we didnt!) Surfboards, food, perfect surf, nice people, and a handful of amazing balconys to chill and read on make this one of my favorite spots in the world.   Oh I forgot, Olo’s has one of the most amazing views of the entire bay too.  It is magic.  It is paradise.  And  I could happily stay here for eternity.  Can I come back already?

Surf and Yoga retreat tifnit taghazout imsouane amazing retreatWhile here in Imsouane, I started reading the book “E-squared” by Pam Grout.  This book is made up of 10 experiments that we can do to prove to ourselves the power of energy in the universe.  So I decided to conduct one of her experiments while I was here.

Here it is:

On Monday at 12:57. I wrote in my journal. “Within 48 hours can you [energy of the universe] please send me a sign or a blessing to prove that you are absolutely real.  And sorry to be high maintenance, but I’d like a very clear sign, something that can’t be written off as coincidence.  Thank you!  And hope to see you within 48 hours so there is no confusion. Yours truly, Kori”

Imsouane taghazout bali sri lanka yogaretreatTwo days later, with only two hours left the the countdown clock, I was standing in my wetsuit downstairs of Olo’s Surfhouse debating which surfboard to take out.  Owner and total legend, Hamid insisted I take out one of his handcrafted Gato Heroi surfboards. (You know, the one on his showcase surf rack in the livingroom!). 

And while I stood there looking at that super shiny and probably really expensive surfboard that Hamid handed me, I was full of doubt.  The tail seemed too thin and the rails a little sharp.
I was super nervous as I never rode anything like it before.  The waves were huge and I didn’t really want to “experiment” with this board at all, especially today.  So I refused multiple times, but Hamid insisted. 

Morocco Bali France Portugal Yoga retreat So off I went with that damn unfamiliar board  into the properly pumping (and kinda wild) Moroccan ocean.  As I paddled out I said a prayer in every religion I knew.  

Two hours later,  I was walking home with the biggest smile on my face.  I caught more waves, like huge & perfect walled waves, than I have ever caught in my life.  I felt super cruisey like a female version of Craig Anderson (not even kidding) #stylequeen.   Actually, I can say, indisputably, that this morning I had the “greatest surf session I have ever had in my entire life.”  I put that in quotes, because you can absolutely quote me on that. Santosha Society surf and yoga retreat

How rad is that? Talk about a life changing surf!  So there was my sign.  I now was absolutely certain that there indeed is a 24/7 energy force available to everyone, even me!  And what is better than it being real?  We can access it any time we want.  All we need to do is simply and clearly ask for it.  Then wait for it.  Furthermore (and most importantly)  believe in it.  Because in Magic Bay Morocc, it was proven to me that Magic does exist!  

But the magic wasn’t over yet.  After that amazing week in Magic Bay, it was time to move an hour down the coast to Aorir village, just a stones throw from the old hippie surf hang out of Taghazout for my Santosha Society Morocco Surf and Yoga Retreat. 

Surf and yoga surfergirl Magic Morocco Taghazout Yoga retreat

The Santosha Society Morocco Retreat

 On quaint, little Banana Beach, there area a few fun wave options and a couple of wandering camels.  It is s pretty ‘quintessential Morocco’ village if you ask me (with the exceptions of our  incredibly comfortable villa thrown in the mix).

As always, I arrived a few hours before my guests to the villa, and  just like that I remembered how imperfect Morocco actually is.  The world wide problem of burning trash was happening right there on our otherwise perfect little beach.  That bitter smell of toxicity was wafting into the upstairs yoga shala, and I was starting to panic.  FUCK.    

surfergirl world yoga retreats Then there was the Moroccan system of transportation (when hauling a bunch of longboards) which was proving straight up difficult to organize.  Then I got super sick.  And I was starting to doubt why I was running trips to Morocco in the first place. I had never been sick while running a retreat, and now I wasnt only sick, it felt like I was on the verge of dying. 

And so I continued on, over the speedbumps of foreign travel (or should I say camel humps) and along the path that lay ahead of me.  With a little persistence and lot of trusting in that powerful energy I so recently harnessed, I believed that there must be a solution for all these problems. 

Surf Guide to Morocco Yoga Retreat Santosha SocietyAnd there were.  The week commenced magically. In fact, the week was better than I could have ever imagined.  So lets talk about that.  The Magical Morocco Retreat!

The waves were small, which was actually perfect for us to explore so many more spots than if there were big waves.  So we cruised up and down the coastlines stopping at tons of different beach breaks along the way.  We rode camels and we bought rugs. We explored villages to the south and to the north.  And then we would come together to meditate, stretch, relax and eat in the evenings.

And it was divine.

Honestly, it was.  The moral of the story:  Morocco isnt perfect. I am not going to lie. The weather is so dry you start to feel like a sunbaked raisin within a few hours of arriving.  They still burn trash on the beaches.  When the swell is huge, it’s hard to find wave.  And when you do find waves, the competition can be tough.  Bargaining at the markets can be challenging to say the least (especially when you come from a culture of fixed prices).  And women sometimes get more attention than they want.

surfergirl surf guide to Morocco anchor point imsouane

But through the challenges of traveling to a place different than home, we learn to be adaptable.   In fact, these challenges teach us to change the structure of our mind to become more flexible.  And through that flexibility comes freedom.

Santosha Society Surf and yoga RetreatAnd so we grow.

We learn.

And we appreciate the things that dont always go perfectly our way. And yet when you ask how our trip was we will all tell you “magic.”

And we arent lying.  It was.  We just learned over that week to breath deeper into our gratitude.  To bend back and be vulnerable to everything so we can love more.  And all the benefits of the yoga, the surfing, the traveling, the friendship and the energy start to show themselves clearly through every smile wrinkle on our face.

Santosha Society surf shop yoga amazing retreatSo their luggage never arrived. So the surfer’s transportation was a struggle.  And so I got sick, real sick.  And still I can say that this might possibly be my favorite retreat ever, because I grew the most.

And like all the other retreats, we found amazing waves.  We bonded.  We laughed, my god, did we laugh.  And we just had the most amazing week ever, no matter what was thrown our way.

Santosha society morocco surf and yoga retreat surfergirlsAnd I now realize that when you work hard for something and then you accomplish it, it makes the reward even sweeter!  And so, I big you farewell for now Morocco.  Thank you for the waves, thank you for the magic, thank you for being you.

And just like that we cried as we hugged goodbye.  Until next time Morocco…..

Favorite guesthouses and surf camps in Morocco Taghazout Imouane

And you always ask, so here they are ….. My Personal RECOMMENDATIONS:

Imsouanne

Olos Surf Nature. (all budgets)  This place is absolutely amazing.  If i was an independent traveler, I am not sure I would go anywhere else. The thing about Imsouane is the surf is incredible, but if it isnt, you dont have heaps of other options.  But usually it is.  And this place is magic.  So, Olos surf house is top of the list.

Taghazout.

Amayour Hostel: (budget)  Walking distance to Panorama Point and a roof hang area with views to Anchor point and Panorama Point. Although it is a small little hostel, my room was super quiet.  We loved the location just near the water and all the restaurants.  And I always love supporting beautiful people, and the owner is a sweet beautiful single mama soul!

Munga Guesthouse:  (mid range) Nicely done although right on the main road there might be some noise.  Aesthetically on point, but like i said, can be noisey when dogs and kids are always just out front.

Amouage:  (high end) Looking for a fancy Bali-style beach club vibe with booze (not easy to find in Morocco) and a western style spa.  Yes, Surf Maroc’s Amouage is absolutely beautiful.  If you cant afford to stay here, perhaps at least come take a peek.

All photography by the amazing Stuart Smythe (@smythe_photo)

places to stay in Morocco