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Morocco’s ‘Secret Garden’ Is Yet Another Natural Phenomenon Instagram Has Exposed

She only wakes up every now and then, but when she does—now everyone knows…

It’s no secret social media can turn an off-grid locale into a lusted-after holiday destination.

But while the famous blue-painted city Chefchaouen, for instance, last year exploded with popularity, overtaking Marrakesh as the “coolest” (or at least, most ‘Instagrammed’) place to visit in mainland Morocco, there used to be an even more hidden jewel, tucked away on the West coast.

Safi.

A two and a half hour drive south of Casablanca, Safi is a town known more for factories, fish scales and swell-racked cliffs than for influencers, tour guides and Airbnb’s.

While the mystical Chefchaouen has 490,478 Instagram posts to its name…

 

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Safi has just 131,341…

 

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But its beachside charm and the authentic experience one gets staying in a traditional Riad in the medina (away from the hotels closer to the train station) have captured the hearts of a certain demographic of traveller: surfers.

This rising tide of bookings is particularly pronounced in the winter, when large swells march out of the Atlantic and, fanned by the place’s trademark offshore winds, reel off alongside the perfectly angled headland that juts out beyond Safi’s main beach.

 

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This incredible natural phenomenon, with its emerald-green water and (occasionally) saphire-coloured barrels, has been aptly dubbed ‘Le Jardin’ (the garden), sitting pretty at the bottom of Safi’s iconic, in-this-instance-factory-free cliffs.

 

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While it used to be a secret spot, the once hush-hush atmosphere has been eroded by its inclusion in the likes of popular surf forecasting websites Magic Seaweed and Surf Forecast.

On top of that, locals and expats alike have capitalised on the opportunity to set up surf camps, broadcasting Safi’s effervescent tubes to the world at large in an attempt to attract more customers.

The only problem? Although a scan of these companies’ Instagram pages would have you think the waves are pumping in Safi all the time, they aren’t.

While some days are all:

 

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Others are more like this:

 

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And when the waves are on, local surfers—particularly those who don’t work in this surf-tourism industry—do not appreciate their formerly secret garden being over-run by travelling surfers.

On my 45 minute walk back to town (pro-tip: rent a car) I spoke to one such local.

 

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He told me that, while he appreciated the economic benefits surfing provides his town (he even went as far as to say he didn’t mind the surf camps in and of themselves), he was disgusted with the attitude of one of the operators.

This guy had organised a trip for a group of young French surfers, a group of teenagers who descended rabidly upon the lineup, obeying the basic rules of etiquette but essentially taking as many waves as they could get away with.

When my acquaintance confronted him and asked him not to bring such a big group, he dismissed it and said he had permission from the surf camp.

 

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As Safi is so hard to get to (compared to other European, and even Moroccan) surf hot spots, it has flown under the radar for quite some time. However, as flights get cheaper and English Adult Learners start tightening up their bottom turns (and realise that tea is even better with several teaspoons of sugar in it) that may no longer be the case…

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