WHEN TO GOPeak Season: April – October
Avg Air Temp: 20 – 30°C / 68 – 86°F
Avg Water Temp: 19 – 24°C / 66 – 75°F
AVERAGE COSTSBeer: €3 – MAD35
Restaurant Meal: €5 – 40 – MAD56 – 450
Accommodation: €40 – 80 – MAD440 – 900 p.p.p.n.
THE LUREFun and safe for all levels with enough wind to be shredding dawn till dusk among the dolphins and flamingoes, Dakhla in southwest Morocco offers simple and relaxing holiday experiences on the edge of the Western Sahara on and around the immense 45 kilometre lagoon, or at three good wave spots.
Read an extensive feature on Dakhla that appeared in Kiteworld issue #73 here, including more cracking images and detail!
THE SET-UPSituated on the edge of the Western Sahara desert, the Dakhla peninsula shelters a huge flat water lagoon from the Atlantic Ocean, so whatever your level and riding preference, you’re likely to be covered – there’s even a ‘speed spot’! Perhaps it’s not the ideal holiday option for those looking for lots of non-kiting activity options, but if you’re hungry for fantastic wind conditions, flat water, waves, beautiful sunsets and relaxed evenings with good food and like-minded people who really love kitesurfing, then Dakhla should be on your list of future holiday destinations.
Dakhla offers a great variety of kitesurfing spots and conditions year round and is perfect for all levels. The lagoon is immense, so it’s always easy to find some space. The most popular areas are around the kite camps, but a few kilometres south you’ll find the famous ‘speed spot’, which works perfectly at low tide, offering phenomenal flat water and you can check with centres for safety boat cover. It’s very special. The lagoon can be ridden at both high and low tide, though high tide provides the best opportunity for beginners as the water is waist-deep. For advanced riders the flat water at low tide doesn’t get any better.
Most people imagine Dakhla to have only flat water, but there are a variety of wave spots between a five and 20 minute drive with incredible conditions, particularly during the winter months. You’ll need a 4x4 to get to the spots, but schools organise regular transfers to the wave spots of Foum Lobouir and Pointe D’Or. The first is close to town and can be accessed in a normal car, and features side-shore wind from the north offering up some spectacular conditions. Pointe D’Or needs 4x4 access. There is generally less wind at the wave spots and a 4/3 or 3/2 wetsuit on the coast is a good idea. Take a kite surfari on the Atlantic coast and don’t miss out on an excellent downwinder from Dakhla to Duna Blanca or Dakhla town, which is a brilliant way of discovering the full beauty of the lagoon. The only warning is of some shells in the sand, so be careful not to step on them or drag your kite over them.
Lee 'Pasty' Harvey is the 2014 UK Wave Champion. Here he is showing that if you hit the coast then Dakhla is about more than just the flat water of the lagoon!
WIND, WEATHER AND WATERDakhla genuinely offers conditions all year. The wind generally blows from the NE 19 - 25 knots in winter, increasing to 30 knots in the summer months of July and August. Usually lighter in the morning, the wind increases at lunch time until dropping off again at sunset, so it’s possible to kite all day, until around 7pm. Waves are best November - February. In summer you’ll use your seven and nine metre a lot, and in winter a 12 will see more action.
The weather’s good all year, from 20 – 30°C / 68 – 86°F during the day, dropping to 12 – 15°C / 54 – 60°F at night. Boardshorts and bikinis in mid-summer, shorty the rest of the year and a warm sweatshirt and jeans for the evenings. The water temp sits around 19 – 24°C / 66 - 75°F all year. In strong winds it feels colder, so pack a longer wetsuit. During the summer a shorty or even just boardshorts will be enough. January and February are the coldest months.
ACCOMMODATIONThe vast majority of kiters choose to stay in one of the camps on the lagoon’s water’s edge, though Kite Morocco have a guest house option in town. Unless you only want to kite at the town’s main wave spot, the best option is to book accommodation at the lagoon where the offerings now cater for all tastes and budgets; most are all-inclusive meaning you can just kite, relax and enjoy good food and drink without having to worry about anything much more than that.
KITE MOROCCO at the Dakhla Spirit camp offer kitesurfing tuition for all levels all year at a max 4:1 ratio with safety boat on patrol. A full range of RRD kites for hire along with windsurfing, SUP, kayaking and surfing. They also have the Dakhla Spirit Surf House in town next to the Foum Lambouir wave spot. Full packages including transfers and pro clinics with the likes Alex Pastor, Youri Zoon and Kari Schibevaag also available at times.
CLUB MISTRAL located next to the Ocean Vagabond beach bar run lessons in kitesurfing, windsurfing, SUP and surfing. Shop, showers, storage, chill out corner, lots of gear to rent and excursions to wave spots. Ocean Vagabond also provides excellent accommodation.
Languages spoken by instructors: English, French, Arabic and Spanish.
+49 (0) 881 92 54 960
RIHFLY / DAKHLA ATTITUDE just in front of Dragon Island at the northeast end of the lagoon has an expanded camp with spa, restaurant, bar with DJs, surf shop, activities, 2.0 cable park, pump track, excursions and free wifi. Plus: compressors, gear rentals, lessons, excursions, secure storage areas, safety boat and a kite repair. Daily downwinders to the White Dune or flat water speed spot and wave spot transfers are also available.
Languages spoken by instructors: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch.
+212 661 835 010
EXPLORA in the Dakhla Alize camp is a family run kite, wind and surf centre, open all year with beautiful bungalows a few steps from the water. North and Best 2015 gear for rent and specialist clinics run throughout the year. Safety boat cover, gear storage and full package holidays also offered.
Languages spoken by instructors: English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Italian.
+44 (0) 773 856 3883 / +212 611 475 188
KITEWORLDWIDE are at Villa Camp Dakhla in the top northwest corner of the lagoon, offering high-class accommodation in six boutique mini-villas with stunning views, inside toilet and shower and open air bathroom and bathtub. 2015 Best gear available, plus daily downwinders, wave spot trips and rescue boat cover. KiteWorldWide also operate as a full service travel agent.
+44 (0) 20 36 085 777
+44 (0) 20 36 085 777
+49 (0) 881 92 54 960
+44 (0) 844 811 8489
+44 (0) 1273 844919
NO WINDThe Dakhla Attitude Hotel now has a 2.0 system cable park in a 140 x 45 metre pool with two kickers, rooftop and box that is available everyday and for two night sessions with BBQ and beach party each week. Most camps offer no-wind activities, the most regular being surf and SUP trips as well as catamaran sailing, windsurfing, blokarts or fishing. Non-sporting options are fairly limited, but eating good food never gets old on holiday and there’s always lovely weather on the beach and expansive sands. There are trip options to the sweet water blow holes of Imlili in the desert, Portorico beach or the thermal source of Asnaa where you can take a hot shower in sulfate rich water directly out of the ground.
GET AROUNDIf you are staying at one of the camps no rental car is necessary. Transfers to town and back can be €10 per person or free depending on your package and be aware that there aren’t many taxis. The UCPA hotel in town brings people to the lagoon each day but it’s inconvenient compared to just walking to your kite spot and the costs can build up. Make sure you buy a rescue voucher for the lagoon if you’re not staying at one of the camps. If you stay in town you’re best to rent a car to get to the kite spot or daily 4x4 transfers can be arranged with schools to a variety of spots.
CurrencyMoroccan Dirham (MAD): £1 = MAD14 / €1 = MAD11 / US$1 = MAD9 Facilities in the camp will accept Euros too and there are ATMs in Dakhla.
FOOD AND DRINKAll the camps and hotels are all-inclusive and provide excellent fresh food and drinks at sunset. If you want to get out of camp for a while then Dakhla town is a good experience and probably not what you’re used to. Visit the small souk in town and the local food and spice markets. Look out for the cars selling seasonal fruits and try the Dakhla-grown cherry tomatoes. Traditional tea in a cafe is a must-do, and lunch at the oyster farm is also highly recommended (it serves more than just oysters). Between the camps and town there’s also a semi-hidden fish restaurant on the water’s edge that there are pizza options in town as well as a more upmarket dinner at Villa Dakhla.
Fly into Dakhla (VIL), although there are no direct flights from outside Morocco. There are also seven flights per week from Casablanca and two from Agadir. Be prepared to spend a night in Casablanca for your connecting flight on your way home (though if booking with KiteWorldWide they will organise a nice hotel). Twice a week there’s also a service from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria with Canary Fly (www.canaryfly.es).
Zenith Ocean Voyages | The Caribbean
Zenith visits locations across the entire Caribbean chain, from Antigua to Los Roques and all the way to Curaçao.
Cabarete | Dominican Republic
Open stretches of golden sandy beaches are combed by a regular cross-onshore wind and protected by an offshore reef
South Padre Island | Texas
Choose from sheltered butter-flats on the Laguna Madre Bay side, to head-high, pitching waves in the Gulf of Mexico
Hurghada | Egypt
Turquoise waters, white sandbanks and a huge amount of space, the kitesurfing here really is good for learning and it’s easy to see why it has been so popular for so long
Essaouira | Morocco
This picturesque fishing town is also Morocco’s windiest town with a vast sandy beach that stretches for three miles
El Gouna | Egypt
A man-made dream of a town that not only caters for the kiting tourist, but attracts holidaymakers from all over Europe
Watamu | Kenya
Constant trade winds, a choice of sandbars, seven kilometres of powder white sand beaches and large summer swells make Watamu a wonderful playground for kiters of all levels
Dahab | Egypt
Dahab, a hotspot for wind sports due to its world class, reliable, safe learning conditions in the lagoons