I’ve always heard about the excellent surfing conditions in places like Agadir and Essaouira in Morocco, but I never knew it was possible to surf in Morocco’s capital, Rabat.
That’s where Medina Surf Hostel comes in – located right near the beach in Rabat’s Old City, I heard about this hostel from some fellow travelers in Fez.
The hostel is run by a Moroccan pro-surfer who used the proceeds from winning the title of Best Surfer in Africa to fund construction of a cheap affordable place to stay in Rabat for budget travelers and surfers alike.
The hostel rents boards, wetsuits and gives lessons for beginner and advanced surfers. They serve breakfast every morning on a beautiful rooftop terrace which is great fuel for a long day of surfing.
The hostel is located in the actual medina, so you must carry your surf board to the beach through the narrow winding streets filled with fruit and bread vendors haggling with the locals . Immediately outside the medina you pass over a small hill then head down to the beach situated right next to an ancient Moroccan Fort.
The waves along the coast are absolutely massive, but there is an artificial break built using rocks to make the area within a small bay surfable. The waves break right off the rocks and draw out along the bay. Not too big and not too small. Just right.
The beach itself isn’t quite like Southern Morocco and there can be a bit of trash along it (but not in the water), but it’s hard to complain when you’re surfing in the Moroccan capital just minutes from the official head of government.
Besides surfing Rabat has many attractions like the ancient Kasbah in the Fort overlooking the ocean. Directly within the walls there is also a beautiful garden called the Andalusian Gardens. Unfortunately it was raining on my last day so I didn’t get to see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, but I would definitely recommend it.
I think my favorite part of Rabat though was the food. The first night I went to this Syrian restaurant called Yamal Al Sham located just outside the medina. The food was INCREDIBLE. I’ve never eaten so much and paid so little. The place is quite famous in Rabat so you need to get a number at the front and wait to be called for a table. The wait is worth it though because you can get a Syrian feast for about 7 euros. The funky Syrian music they play too makes the atmosphere very memorable.
Another foodie highlight of Rabat is the street food along Rue de Mohammed V in the medina. My second night I went a friend from the hostel down the main walking street and sampled literally everything. Shawarma sandwiches, Moroccan cakes, and even avocado smoothies. I think that whole night costs me about $3 too.
A lot of folks told me not to go to Rabat on this trip. They said it would be boring and I’d be better off spending my time elsewhere. Rabat might not be as exciting as Fez or Marrakesh, but I really enjoyed seeing Moroccan life as regular Moroccans live it out.
Right when I got out of the station I saw young people everywhere, walking around, some in couples, significantly less headscarves. It was totally different from Fez. This is Morocco’s capital. It’s where the young people live, and it’s clearly the direction the country is heading in. All throughout Morocco I see a country rapidly developing, liberalizing, and beginning to catch up with the West. I think this country has a lot of potential, and it was interesting to see it in Rabat.
Another great bonus of staying amongst the locals is you almost never get hassled. In other cities, tourists tend to get scammed and tricked, but in Rabat I was completely left alone. I was able to enjoy the city like anybody else which is a nice change of pace. As a savvy traveler, I didn’t really have any issues in Fez and quite enjoyed it, but Rabat was noticeably calmer. The taxis always use the meter in Rabat too which is a huge plus. It costs me one dollar to get from my hostel to the train station. How can you beat that?