Essaouira is well-known as one of the world's most reliable spots for winds. Most of the windsurfing takes place in the bay of Essaouira itself which is to the south of the town. It is a long curved 5 km stretch of sandy beach where the wind is normally cross/offshore near the town and sometimes gusty but gradually becomes more cross shore (starboard tack) as you head south around the bay. The northern end of the bay generally remains fairly flat with some wind chop and swell further out offering conditions for ambitious beginners and intermediates. In the south of the bay there are good fun-sized waves and swell offshore, offering exciting conditions for intermediates and advanced windsurfers. During the early spring, late autumn and winter months, large Atlantic swells funnel into the bay creating some great wave sailing conditions in the south section of the bay. Challenging wave conditions can also be found about 25 km to the south at Sidi Kaouki and Cap Sim or particularly at Moulay Bouzerqtoune about the same distance to the north where the wave action can at times be world class. Unlike other top spots around the world, these areas, apart from high season, still remain relatively uncrowded.
The beach itself is a huge 5 km arc that delivers multiple conditions, from flat water to waves. Essaouira is the windy city with stats ranging from 25-35 knots pretty much every day in the summer months and 20-30 knots in the winter with pumping waves. The annual wind pattern tends to be similar to that of the Canary Islands. The summer trade winds are accelerated by strong thermal action particularly during the spring and early summer when temperatures inland can be very hot. Generally the wind increases throughout the morning and by mid afternoon can often be blowing a solid force 6-7. Between the months of October to April, Atlantic storms produce large swells which offer excellent wave conditions all the way up and down the coast from Oualidia to Agadir. The winds, however, are a little less consistent and predictable in direction although it should usually be possible to either surf or windsurf on most days during the winter at or within a 25km radius of Essaouira. There are heavy tradewinds, especially in summer. Temperatures range between 18°C in January to 25°C in August. Wave conditions are especially good on the southern side of the bay in spring and autumn (1-2 m) and from mid-June to August (0.5-1 m). The further upwind you travel in the bay, the flatter the water.
Essaouira plays host to several national and international windsurfing competitions promoting itself as ‘Windy City Afrika’. Diabat, Sidi Kaouki and Cap Sim are the most popular places for windsurfing, and over the years the windsurfers have replaced the hippies of the 60's when Diabat was home to a commune lead by Jimi Hendrix.
With a stronger sideshore wind than Essaouira, where the Atlantic and North East trades meet, Moulay offers one of the best wave spots just outside Europe. In the winter with 2-5 meters waves and lack of safety cover, this is a spot for confident and experienced windsurfers only.
Sidi Kaouki is situated 25 km south of Essaouira with a 5 km long sandy beach, providing ideal conditions for advanced windsurfers. It has a cross shore wind and good waves in the winter. Conditions here can vary and with different entry points you will find the right waves for beginner and more advanced windsurfers. The shore break is somewhat higher than at Essaouira, but the spot also offers fabulously long waves. You can start directly in many of the waves. Attention must be paid to low and high tides and the currents.
Cap Sim is situated 2 km north of Sidi Kaouki and is the perfect spot if there are too many windsurfers in Sidi Kaouki, as conditions are more or less identical.
Moving one kilometre inland from Cap Sim across the sand dunes and scrubland, you arrive at the Berber village of Diabat, to the south of Essaouira. In the 1960s this was a legendary hippy hangout and Jimi Hendrix spent time here.
Oualidia sits above a peaceful lagoon, kept topped up with ocean water by two breaches in a natural breakwater. The lagoon and beach provide an ideal sheltered location for sailing, surfing, windsurfing and fishing. The beach is the most calm one of the Atlantic coast, as it is sheltered by a natural barrier. From late June to September, Oualidia is very busy. The beach gets very crowded and the water is none too clean. However, off-season, you have the beautiful surroundings and beach almost to yourself.
Far from the city, the Dakhla lagoon is wild and authentic, rocked by the strong southerly winds. On the exact frontier between the ocean and the desert, Dakhla is a paradise lost, reserved for the privileged few who know of its existence. At Dakhla, visitors are guaranteed strong emotions: surfing or casting in the ocean waves, windsurfing or kitesurf in the clear waters of the lagoon.
The place is not very well known. But for the ones in the know, the name of Dakhla now automatically conjures up surfing in the Sahara. This brand new destination is between the ocean and the desert, more than 1,200 km south of Agadir: 21°C in the middle of January, 27°C in August, and water never below 19°C in the middle of the winter. A perfect spot for windsurfing.
Ideally located on the tip of a 40 km long sandy peninsula, Dakhla is protected by a tongue of sand on the sea part and sand dunes on the desert side. All the magic of the place is there, in the meeting of the turquoise water of a dream lagoon where surfers slide between dolphins and pink flamingos and the bare hills that announce the desert. It is a beauty that will take the breath away of the most blasé travellers.
In this paradise revisited, a water sports centre is located at the Pointe du Dragon, in the centre of the lagoon, facing the island of the same name. Created and run by enthusiasts, this centre offers pure authenticity with accommodation in traditional desert tents. Here comfort and simplicity go hand in hand.
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Date last edited:
12 November 2012