Holidays to Agadir hinge on its beach and all the goods that come with it, like watersports and a restaurant-stuffed promenade.
Cut into Morocco’s southern coast, Agadir prides itself on its strapping stretch of sand. The city was mostly destroyed by an earthquake in the Sixties, so what you’ve got now is a modern beach resort – built with holidaymakers in mind. Cue a smart oceanfront promenade with souvenir shops, a ferris wheel and plenty of places to eat.
The main beach is the hub of everything here. As far as sandy beaches go, this one’s a good’un. It’s more than five miles long, so there’s plenty of elbow room. Plus, watersports are in good supply. There’s just as much space on the palm-sprinkled prom behind, too – even with the bevy of street performers and sellers that drop by.
Eat, shop, do
You can do your souvenir shopping in Agadir’s souk. Its stalls are stacked high with everything from clothes and toys to furniture and food. Or head to the fish market for an even more authentic experience. You can grab bags of fresh seafood, or have a slap-up meal at one of the stalls. Daytrip-wise, Marrakech has the Atlas Mountains, and Agadir has Paradise Valley. This palm-packed canyon is snap-happy territory, with an aqua-blue river, olive groves and a tiny Berber village.
Things to See and Do in Agadir
Fringing Morocco’s Atlantic coast, the beaches around Agadir come super-sized. The swathes of amber-coloured sand are massive, and the sea breezes in these parts mean they’re some of the best spots in the world for wind and kite surfing. If the watersports side of things doesn’t appeal, there’s plenty happening on dry land, too, from camel rides to fresh seafood stalls overlooking the ocean.
The big beach
Unsurprisingly, Agadir itself has the most popular beach. It stretches for a massive 9 kilometres and draws everyone from sun-hungry holidaymakers to football-playing locals. At one end you’ll find the marina, where you can watch fishermen haul in the day’s catch, which sand-side stalls will then barbecue for you.
The secret beach
If you’d rather have a quieter spot, head for Kilometre 25 Beach. It’s 25 kilometres from Agadir – hence the highly original name. It’s a pretty rough and ready spot, with a rugged stretch of sand and crashing waves. But it’s perfect if you’re looking for a little seclusion – you’ll often just be sharing the sand with the seagulls.
Souk Al Had is set around a big square, and sells everything from fruit and veg to handcrafted souvenirs. Prices might seem a little steep at first, but be prepared to haggle and you’ll come away with spices and carved wooden boxes for Poundland prices. Another bargain buy to look out for is Argan oil. Made from the berries of the Argan tree, it’s great for nourishing your skin and strengthening hair and nails.
A lot of what’s sold in Agadir isn’t made in the area, which means you can pick up some great buys from all over Morocco without leaving town. In the two-storey Municipal Market, you can snap up leather purses and bags from Marrakech, tagine pots from Fez and silver from Tiznit.
Admittedly, Gucci or Prada are yet to buy floorspace in Agadir, but there are still some really good shops – Zara, Lacoste and the like – around the marina and along Boulevard 20 Aout. For souvenirs that are a cut above, head just out of town to Le Medina d’Agadir. Created by an Italian architect, it’s a recreated Berber village packed with tiny artisan shops.
For a night at the quieter end of the spectrum, head to Agadir’s smart new marina and take your pick of upmarket bars and restaurants. There’s also a good selection of tourist-friendly places to eat along Boulevard 20 Aout and Boulevard Hassan II.
Agadir’s partying scene mostly revolves around hotels. The one that really draws the crowds is Papagayo, at the Hotel Riu Tikida Beach. Another good spot is Flamingo, at the Agadir Beach Club. There’s no rush to get to either, though – things don’t tend to get going ‘til around midnight.
The granddaddy of Morocco’s food scene has to be the tagine. Named after the cone-like pot they’re cooked in, these aromatic stews are packed with spices and served with couscous. In Agadir, seafood tagines are the big favourite thanks to the town’s coastal address.
This traditional soup is a bit like an Italian minestrone. It’s made with chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes and spices like saffron and ginger, and is real stick-to-your-ribs stuff. Usually you’ll find it on the breakfast menu during Ramadan. It’s a bit of a favourite at Moroccon weddings, too.
Thanks to its spot on the seafront, Agadir does a good line in fresh seafood. Sardines are one of its specialties – head to one of the stalls by the port and have them grilled or barbecued to order.
Paper-thin filo pastry is an essential ingredient in loads of Moroccan dishes, but this sweet-and-savoury pie is a particularly good example. It’s traditionally filled with pigeon, eggs, almonds and loads of spices, then baked and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. You can also get it filled with chicken or fish if pigeon’s a step too far.
The heady scent of fresh mint is everywhere in Morocco because the ritual of sitting down for a glass of super-sweet mint tea is big in these parts. Moroccans like their tea bubbly, so the traditional silver teapots have curved spouts so liquid can be poured from a height.
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