Learning to surf is frustrating, I confirmed, after several summers spent splashing about by the Cornish coast and following friends to 'legendary surf spots' where the waves chewed me up and spat me out in seconds. Then I discovered Taghazout.
Morocco's Atlantic shores are blessed with some of the world's most consistent surf. Waves roll in on a daily basis, delivering everything from gnarly point breaks to gentle surf for first-timers, with year-round sunshine adding to the appeal. This fantastic cocktail of conditions has drawn me back to Morocco three times now.
A little town called Taghazout
My first ever visit was in Easter, when the waist-high waves were perfect for helping me find my feet: I started the week learning to pop-up in the white water and ended it on my first green wave – something I'd spend four years struggling to do in Cornwall.
I was staying in Taghazout, a few miles north of Agadir. The coastline here boasts the best conditions in Morocco, with point, reef and beach breaks riddling the shore. And thanks to direct daily flights from the UK, I found myself at the epicenter of it all, less than four hours after taking off from London.
While Agadir is an established holiday hotspot, Taghazout has only recently emerged on the scene. Ten years ago, this tiny fishing town barely registered on the tourist radar but has since grown to become Morocco's number one surf spot, with plans in progress to launch the country's first purpose-built tourist town – Taghazout Bay – just nextdoor.
Choose your own adventure
If a large hotel with a swimming pool, kids club and cocktail bar sounds like your sort of thing, make your base in Agadir and hire a car to drive to the surrounding surf. But arriving into laid-back Taghazout's for the first time, I knew this town was more up my street.
A harmonious blend of fishing, surf and local Berber culture, Taghazout's relaxed vibe couldn't be more different from Agadir's chain hotels and karaoke bars. Some may find it a little rough around the edges – expect dusty tracks and relaxed restaurants rather than tarmacked roads and slick bars – but that's part of the charm. An alcohol-free town, you won't find anywhere serving beers here, so I always buy wine in Agadir before arriving and drink it on my hotel terrace or in my villa.
Pick a season
Morocco's Atlantic coast sees year-round waves, but each season receives a different degree of swell.
While spring and summer's smaller waves and warmer waters are best for beginners, by late-October it's full wetsuits and short-boards at the ready. Pro surfers from across the globe pilgrimage here during the winter storms to surf world-class point breaks with names like "Killers", "Dracula's" and "Boilers."
This January I visited over New Year and, although the 15ft faces at Killers were way beyond me, nearby Agadir beach was ideal – although this beach receives no real waves to speak of in summer, winter's bigger swells transform it into a forgiving surf spot.
Visiting in winter also gave me the opportunity to watch the pros strutting their stuff on the steep faces and glowing green tubes at Anchor Point – a point break which many see as the holy grail of the Moroccan surf scene. At sunset, the cliff-top overlooking this legendary spot becomes packed with spectators who crowd here to watch talented surfers dancing along relentless right-hand rides.
Take a break
When I've surfed so much I can barely stand, I take a day off to peruse the curio shops in Taghazout, stretch out with a yoga session (you'll see lots of signs in hostels and around the town) or tan away my wetsuit marks on a sun terrace.
Alternatively, you can hire a car and drive into the caramel-coloured interior to experience an oasis or seek out a traditional Berber settlement. Other favourite day-off activities of mine include booking into a hammam for a full-body scrub and haggling for textiles and tagine pots in Agadir's souks.
If all that sounds like too much effort, chill-out on a beach or treat yourself to a slap-up lunch. One of my favourite spots is the beach cafe at Banana Point: hidden down a dirt track, just off the coast road, this simple cafe serves barbequed fish with a view of the surf – a blissful combination which, on some days, can almost be more appealing than riding Morocco's best waves.