Take a behind the scenes look at our Amiga Jaclyn’s first time retreat experience in Morocco!
Hello readers, thank you for being here and partaking in what I am about to share about my magical experience as an Amiga. This past September 2022 I had the great privilege of joining a retreat on my maiden voyage with SWA for their first-week session in Morocco. My name is Jaclyn Burke, and I am a San Diego native born and raised the daughter of a lifeguard and two goofballs that met on the beach during the 70s in a once sleepy surf town.
As a person that has been on many different surf trips, I have normally spent my time planning adventures to many wonderful tropical locations. Surf With Amigas came very highly recommended to me and I was intrigued and curious about the idea of an all-inclusive surf adventure where I just showed up and did not have to plan anything.
I knew wanted to do a surf trip, but I wanted something different.
The moment I saw the trip posted on the SWA website I knew wanted to go to northern AFRICA.
With a gorgeous cliffside backdrop, super stylish surfer, and phenomenal videographer, this windy afternoon in Morocco was a recipe for greatness. Well, now that I think of it, the entire retreat season was destined to be great!
The retreat setup looked like this: We surfed long, peeling rights every single day, then relaxed at the luxury villa in between sessions. We explored old cities and shopped for Moroccan treasures, then slid down sand dunes at sunset. We laughed, cried, danced, and ate a TON of amazing food. For each and every one of us, it was the surf adventure of a lifetime.
What would it be like to take a surf trip through Morocco?
If you’re wondering whether morocco is the right surf destination for you, read jackie’s story to take a journey down the coast of north africa with our team of surf instructors and find out!
Our trip to Morocco was epic.
There’s no other word that can properly describe it. I knew traveling with SWA instructors, Alex, Coco, and Michelle, would be perfect. Two regular footers, and two goofy footers; the perfect balance of wild and chill. We decided to arrive in Morocco about ten days early for a little pre-retreat adventure, and to get our bearings on a new continent. Coco and I flew from California to Madrid, and met up with Michelle in an airbnb downtown.
Traveling from the USA over to Europe and staying for a few days is the perfect way to explore more and deal with jet lag before heading to morocco. I recommend it!
Normally around 9 pm, I start to wind down for bedtime, but that’s not how the Spanish operate. So, thanks to the time difference, most nights we ate dinner at 10pm, followed by hours of laughing and roaming through the cobblestone streets. After Madrid, we made our way to the south of Spain for a couple more memorable nights with SWA surf instructor, Alex, in her home turf.
The trip to Spain was short but jam-packed (I think we barely slept). In a flash, the four of us were on our way to Tarifa, where we’d take a ferry to Tangiers, Morocco.
Arriving to Morocco by ferry was like a scene from a movie. The Moorish architecture and sounds of prayer heightened our senses as we bobbed our way across the straight of Gibraltar. When we arrived, chaos ensued (as it normally does when you arrive to a place where everyone wants to help you). A few hours later we were on our way south, in a rental car we had delivered to us. I’ll never forget that first meal at the gas station passing through Tangier. All the food was fabulous during the trip, but we all agreed that gas station meal was the best meal of the month!
The road trip down the coast was cruisy.
We had no plans, just knew we wanted to get to a point break because there was swell on the way. The point breaks are in the south of the country, so we had a good eight hours of driving that day. We had heard of a wave in a town north of Essaouira, so at some point we decided to exit the highway and call it a night. In retrospect, it’s a bit uncharacteristic of us to not have had a place to stay- normally we’d book a hotel or airbnb and save the trouble of asking around. The phones weren’t working and it was about 10 pm. We had just gotten our first (of many) speeding tickets of the trip and were starting to wonder if we’d even find a good place to stay. We pulled into a gas station and found some girls to ask. They immediately saw our stack of surfboards on the car, and directed us to Mehdi’s place, a guesthouse for surfers.
We found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.
The pre-retreat adventure that was meant to be a few different stops along the coast ended up being dominated by our stay in Safi. We had everything we wanted at this gorgeous Moroccan guesthouse. The owner, Mehdi, who put us in “Kelly Slater’s room,” took us surfing everyday, and sent cookies and tea to our room every evening. While waiting for the point break to turn on, we found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.
We got scrubbed down at a local spa with Mehdi’s wife, and bathed our wetsuits in the rosewater fountain after surfing. My favorite aspect of the stay in Safi was the lack of tourists. We were totally out of our comfort zones in a new city on the coast of north Africa, and totally loving it. We stayed till the last possible moment that we could and wound up scoring waves on the very last morning.
side-of-the-road Camel rides? we’re in!
After saying our good byes to our new Safi family, we made our way down the coast to Imsouane, the retreat location! We had a villa to get to and a couple of retreats to run. During this leg of the journey we saw a guy with some camels on the side of the road, so we stopped for a quick lap on the camels to break up the drive. We got lost for a few more hours in a countryside full of argon fields and goats in the trees before we finally arrived to the retreat villa in Imsouane- the Dar Zitoun.
We crashed hard that first night in Imsouane, and I woke up at sunrise to check the surf. I knew immediately we were going to have perfect retreats. The point break is the perfect set up- it’s a super long, perfect right. Maybe the longest wave in SWA retreat location history. The wave is a bit slower, which makes it just dreamy for long boarding. That first session by myself was pure magic, and every session after that did not disappoint.
The retreat villa is totally fabulous, the food is delicious, the cultural experience is so rich, and the wave is right out front. What more could you want from a SWA retreat location? Us instructors love going to new locations for retreats and Morocco was exactly the adventure we were craving. We knew a few days into the first retreat, we’d have to come back for more.