WRITTEN LE 02 OCTOBRE 2019
PAR THIBAULT LIEBENGUTH
The magic bay of Imsouane
That morning, in the cool air of April, I left my family and our small flat in Grenoble to selfishly get away and fulfil my craving for waves and nature. Lyon airport is a real anthill. It’s remarkable, and disconcerting, how easily you can move between countries for a few hundred euros. Guilt about my trip’s impact gnaws quietly at me. It’s not easy living with my contradictions and shunning the principles I advocate daily. But isn’t that what travel and adventure are about, too? Discovering new cultures that open our mind, to better help us grasp the issues facing the world?
Now, here I am 2h30 from Agadir in Morocco, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and on the Atlantic coast. In front of me: an ancient Berber fishing village that’s still authentic and untouched by mass tourism; and a bay that opens onto a small artisanal fishing port, with azure-blue boats. From the port, I behold an 800m-long wave unfurling perfectly. A straight wave just the way we like them – easy, playful and never-ending. Welcome to Imsouane.
Stepping away for a while from the modern world, leaving urban life far behind, embracing the unexpected, building true bonds with strangers from all over the world... In a way, that’s what you come looking for in Imsouane and at Olo Surf & Nature, the camp overlooking the spot. With just the right measure of Moroccan-style comfort, a dash of adventure, delicious meals and adorable staff.

At sunrise, you wind your way between argan and fig trees down to the port, and surf the perfect waves of Imsouane. The days roll by, and we live to the tempo of the tides.

The people who frequent this mythical spot, just a three-hour flight from France, is both problematic and beneficial. These days, Imsouane is a secret to no one; and sometimes, you can be one of a hundred bums in the water! But surfing is also expanding the local economy, which otherwise revolves solely around fishing and growing argan trees; and is becoming the biggest source of income for the residents of this small, remote place.
But the perverse effects of the growing influx are tangible. Surf lodges are mushrooming in the desert, and some visitors and locals are not mindful of the location’s outstanding beauty. Rubbish is starting to build up, but the collection and sorting system is still in its infancy. You sometimes find plastic waste littering the cliffs, beach and streams…The local stakeholders are taking the matter very seriously Olo Surf Nature, for instance, offers its customers rubbish collection days in the bay, in-between surfing sessions. The initiative gets the thumbs-up from local people, who congratulate us when we bump into them on the beach, our bags stuffed with rubbish.
Imsouane is still a unique experience, human-sized and close to the local community.You can buy your fish on the port quay and go grill it in one of the small restaurants that look out over the spot. You can head off on a surf trip with a taxi driver –a soccer and local surf legend who wears his heart on his sleeve; he’ll tell you all about his country, his region, his friends. You’ll explore the surrounding cliffs on foot, on the lookout for line-fishing anglers who pitch a bivy there for a few days to harvest the fruits of a miraculous catch.
It’s a magical bay, which deserves its legend and where you journey much further than the distance between there and home.