One Month Surf Trip in Western Sahara.
We spent one month driving through and surfing in Western Sahara. I have been to 65 countries and the experience itself was one of the best I have had. This country is completely impersonal. It is a landscape without physiognomy, no faces of life or men, no bodies of recumbent animals are suggested by the shapes or lack of shape of the land. Dull yellow and gawkily bending shrubs and trees give way to expanses of sand and the horizon. There is seemingly relentless unyielding road for as long as anyone would care to see. Having said this the desert has a feeling completely unparalleled to anything I have experienced before. There is a raw beauty hidden amongst the harsh desolate nothingness. It is a beauty that has to be studied, to be truly observed, a beauty that despite the seemingly repetitive vacancy continues only to grow more intense with each hour passed watching. To read the full stories of what actually happened click here.
I am not going to direct anyone to any particular spot so if that is what you are looking for then you need to search else where but I will give you a guide to finding waves in Western Sahara which is extremely easy to follow.
Getting to Western Sahara.
The fastest way to get to Western Sahara is the ferry from Tarifa in the south of Spain to Tangier in the north of Morocco. The ferry to Morocco cost around 90 Euros for one van and 3 people inside and took about 45 minutes. There ended up being 6 of us in 3 vans we all met up in Spain where we had a small problem with one of the vans that cost us a few days but after that we were on our way.
You need to pre buy your ticket and you will be asked for passports before you board the ferry after you check in with your van. Once everything is fine and you make it to Morocco you will have to go through customs. Now this can be a little tricky if you are doing things on the dodgy (which I am highly partial to). Customs check most of your paper work very thoroughly and if they decide it is not up to scratch they will just tell you to turn around and go back. It happened to one of our vans, however we did have all the proper paper work on that van and after asking to speak to a boss we got through with everyone. Now one of our vans did not actually have insurance for outside of Europe, which they did not notice and it caused some problems for us later on. This is however something you can purchase in almost any town in Morocco. You just have to make your way to a local police station or car rental place if you are in a city and they should be able to direct you to the nearest administrative building that can help you. I would strongly suggest this because once you leave Morocco the first thing you notice is Police and Military check points everywhere! Like EVERYWHERE! Going into and exiting every town and then in between towns quite often. It is normally quite a distance between towns but it is possible to hit over 10 of these things in a day and they check passports and documents almost every time. So when we were pulled over and it was eventually pointed out that one of our vans was devoid of insurance, as often happens in places like this they tried to get money out of us and they were not gentle. It was the last time I left more than one note in my wallet. I normally make a point of never paying bribes and have not paid once since I was 18 in Bali but this one seemed like it could have gone south quite quickly. That was when we stopped at the next closest town to get insurance.
This was our caravan for the trip.
Surf Conditions in Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a completely un-crowded expanse of coast line that has a wild array of different waves. One day we were surfing amazingly long right hand points and the next day epic left hand wedges. We didn’t get any amazing reefs but if you are after points and beach breaks with a massive variety then the Western Sahara surf has everything you are looking for.
Basically the best time to go is from November to January or February, which is great if you live in Europe because, well its warm in Western Sahara all the time. The water temperature was pretty nice, I think I wore a 3/2 steamer a few times but mostly just wore a 2/2 long arm short leg and we were there in January. So depending on what you are accustomed to its pretty warm all the time.
The swell direction from November to February is predominately NW-N swells and can reach up to apparently 3 meters. We only saw it this big once but we got more than a few really nice sized days quite consistently.
This place was super difficult to even get onto the beach let alone get into the water but once we finally figured out how it was by far one of the best points I have ever surfed. We got it 3-4 ft and multiple barrels per wave for a few hours.
West Saharan History and Landscape
It is completely desert. It is harsh and unforgiving and there are only a handful of small towns and urban areas. So you want to carry a good amount of water with you the whole time. There are no surf shops either until you get to Daklar so you will want to bring everything with you. There are a few surf shops in the main surf towns in Morocco also. But basically you will just be seeing sand and shrubs and more sand and camels and goats in trees and people sitting in the middle of now where like seriously, we saw people just sitting at least 50kms form any towns on a rock or a tire just sitting there and we still have no idea.
Western Sahara is a large, sparsely populated desert country. It was a former colony of Spain but they pulled out in 1976. Troops from Morocco and Mauritania then occupied the country. The Mauritanians pulled out in 79 and Morocco has occupied Western Sahara ever since. Technically, no other country recognized this annexation and the rest of Africa knows it as Republica Saharaoui. Morocco has technically been in control of the area since 1991 but a referendum is pending about the future status of the country but is continually postponed and is waiting for the United Nations to step in and organize it.
The long never ending sandy roads.
Finding Waves in Western Sahara
This is actually super easy. Before we left we looked at google earth, which is pretty normal these days. We marked down every point that looked like it had potential, also towns with break walls and small coves and then dropped pins on an offline map. Offline map because we were not sure if we would have any mobile reception, which we didn’t really. We used MapsWithMe, which worked really well. Almost all of the points we marked down turned out to be really really fun and some turned out to be straight up pumping. The other thing that makes it super easy is the fact that the main road runs straight down the coast and you are never that far from the ocean. We ended up finding this super fun wedge just because we were passing by and we saw one wave look like it was ok. We ended up camping there for 3 days in a row. The best part about this method also is that 99% of the spots we found didn’t have a single person out, ever!
These are the kinds of views that await you in Western Sahara. Perfect empty point breaks.They tried to build a hotel in the ocean. It didn’t work haha. There is also a really fun break wall just to the left of this building.
This was our set up every night. A patch of dirt and sand never more than a few hundred meters from the ocean.