Africa may not be the first destination that comes to mind when Americans think of a beach getaway: it is more commonly associated with wild nature, the richness of its wildlife, and unique arid landscapes that contrast against fertile hinterlands.
Something most Americans tend to forget, however, is that Africa is an impossibly vast and incredibly diverse continent, and not all of it can be reduced to safaris and challenging self-discovery journeys where comfort is not always a priority.
In fact, countries like Morocco are so drastically different from the preconceived notion of what Africa should be, not only in terms of nature but also culturally, that newcomers often find themselves flabbergasted at how incredibly modern, tourist-friendly it is:
It sits North of the Sahara divide, straddling the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and due to its proximity to both Europe and the Arab World, it is instead heavily influenced by these policies.
Though there are enough wonders to fill up an entire piece – from the vibrant Marrakesh to the electric blue medina of Chefchaouen – it’s this unheard-of resort city on the country’s Atlantic Coast that is giving all of your favorite winter sun hotspots in Europe and beyond, a run for their money:
A Gorgeous Beach Getaway That Won’t Break The Bank
We know you may not be exactly keen on taking a Transatlantic flight all the way to Morocco, potentially with a stopover in an intermediate European hub, especially when you have the gorgeous Caribbean – and good old Cancun – on your doorstep, but hear us out.
Agadir is the subtropical sunny vacation you didn’t know you needed – and a pretty cheap one, at that.
Bear with us for a sec.
A sprawling city on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, situated at the foot of the landmark Atlas Mountains, and a highly-developed urban center with better-than-average infrastructure for a population of over 924,000 residents, it is quickly becoming one of Morocco’s strongest offers on the tourism front.
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You may be wondering why, as your knowledge of Morocco and North Africa as a whole is likely to be limited.
For starters, this is one of the most affordable places you can go for a beach holiday anywhere in the world, not only without breaking the bank but also without feeling like you’ve opted for the poor man’s version of a more popular, trendier destination.
Have you seen those beaches?
Is This One Of The Best Beaches In Africa?
Agadir stretches along an elongated strip of golden sand, licked gently by waters of the brightest blue, and it will only take you a single leisurely stroll down the famous Corniche d’Agadir, the well-frequented, pedestrian-friendly boardwalk to fall irremediably in love with the city.
Dubbed the African Ipanema, it runs for roughly 6 miles following the city’s coastal extension, and it’s backed by a selection of beachfront hotels, mid-range restaurants for gorging on some delectable, heartful Moroccan food, and the odd gelato and street food stall if you’re simply feeling peckish.
As this is the North Atlantic, after all, swimming can feel unpleasant this time of year despite the warm temperatures, but Agadir Beach remains one of the most beautiful, cleanest, and safest in Morocco, as well as one of the best-prepared for hosting tourists.
Pickpocketing rates are very low, and most service providers in the vicinity, from restaurant owners to street sellers, will be at the very least conversational in English – though they are more likely to be able to speak French – and you should have no problem getting about, ordering food, or traveling independently in general.
The beach can get extremely crowded in summer (one of the) peak seasons for Moroccan tourism, and while those numbers dwindle over winter, the crowds never truly fade.
That is because Agadir enjoys a mild winter climate, with an average midday temperature as high as 69°F in January, and rainy days are a rather infrequent occurrence.
This makes this coastal gem a popular escape from winter for many Europeans, as it is a short three to five-hour flight for them due to Morocco’s geographical closeness to the neighboring continent and the quality of the beaches.
Incredible Resorts That Fit Every Budget
Needless to say, the highly-equipped hospitality industry and the low prices together play a huge part in driving those arrival numbers up.
@immers1 Thank you to the hotel staff for making our stay memorable #beachclubhotelagadir #foryou ♬ Haram – Instrumental – Bujaa Beats
Believe it or not, five-star stay at the beachfront Agadir Beach Club will set you back by a mere $272 per night for two adults (or only $136 each), for an all-inclusive deal with access to high-level catering and impressive amenities.
Other options include the Atlas Amadil Beach Hotel, famous locally for its aquatic park, where nightly rates start at only $183 for two adults, and the shockingly-luxurious Les Dunes D’Or Resort, a short 0.7-mile walk from central Agadir, with lagoon-style pools, spa facilities, and lush green gardens for the starting price of $136 per night for couples.
Oh, don’t get us started on the cheap, amazing food you can get outside the naturally pricier resort zone.
On average, travelers spend the equivalent to $13 on meals per day vacationing in Agadir, typically for a hearty meal – the couscous or tagine of your preference – and a jug of squeezed fruit, and we know it can sound too good to be true, but you must remember the cost of living in Morocco is far lower than in America.
If you’re going where the locals are, and you are doing your best to avoid the Euro-priced restaurants on the beachfront – though those are certainly worth checking out as Moroccan food with a high-end twist does have its value – you can have a memorable holiday and never go over budget.
In total, a one-week trip for two adults to Agadir is estimated at $819, as per the data shared by Budget Your Trip (this is likely to exclude flight tickets).
An Underrated Cultural Hub In North Africa
Hungry for some culture instead?
The city itself is essentially divided between the medina, or fortified Arab town, the oldest part and a maze of winding alleys lined by shops and merchant houses that now serves as a historic center, and external, more modern developments, added during the French colonial period.
Though much of the Old Town was severely damaged during an earthquake in the sixties, it is still centered around the ruins of a 16th-century Kasbah, or fortress, built by Morocco’s second Saadian Sultan, and it’s retained much of the ancient character following a successful reconstruction.
Agadir is perfect for immersing yourself in Moroccan culture, so make sure you take your time admiring the tapestries family-owned businesses will proudly display on their doorstep, the ornate architecture, and slowly savoring your way through the colorful medina.
Were it not for the occasional call to prayer emanating from the nearby medina’s perfectly-symmetrical Moorish minarets or the fascinating cacophony of shouts in Arabic and Tamazight – two official national languages – that join crashing waves as part of a single soundscape, it wouldn’t be hard to convince oneself they are in Iberian Europe instead.
This is particularly true in terms of safety, as Agadir is one of the least-risky destinations in Morocco.
@baileythi Medina of Agadir ☀️ #agadir #morocco #agadirmorocco #travel #travelmorocco #morocco #agadir_morocco #traveltiktok #whattodoinmoroccco #sunny #fyp #foryoupage ♬ Choking on Flowers – Fox Academy
Agadir Is Pretty Safe For African Standards
Americans should not be excessively concerned when visiting Morocco as a whole, as most issues facing tourists revolve around scamming and pickpockets, as opposed to actual violence like other far less safe African nations (South Africa, we’re looking at you).
Even though pickpocketing is a widespread issue in Morocco, in Agadir, it is not as pronounced, as the population is more affluent in general, and the presence of luxury hotels and high-end riads that draw Westerners to the Atlantic Coast means more policing and tighter surveillance.
According to Numbeo, crime in Agadir is ‘low’, with only a ‘moderate’ increase in incidents in the past three years.
In fact, it registers ‘moderate’, ‘low’, or ‘very low’ on all subcategories of crime, including car theft, robbery, insults, and attacks, and the only true aggravated problem seems to be corruption and bribery.
Even then, short-term resort or riad guests are unlikely to be affected by Morocco’s dysfunctional social services and politics.
How To Travel To Agadir This Winter
Getting to Agadir over winter has never been easier.
Luckily for Americans, nonstop flights connect the United States and Morocco. More specifically, from New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles to Mohammed V International, the main international airport serving Casablanca, the largest city in the country.
Flag carrier Royal Air Maroc is the operator for these flights, which run year-round.
Upon landing in Casablanca, Americans can use the European-standard Moroccan Railways to travel the 303 miles between the airport and Agadir, with trains running 45 times weekly, and plenty of first-class seats at affordable rates available.
Alternatively, they can fly to Agadir from Casablanca, within Morocco, or from a secondary transit hub in continental Europe, which offers numerous seasonal routes to the coastal resort from countless European cities.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com