We recently caught up with Sandra, founder of Sandycamps which is located in Imsouane, Morocco. She shared why Imsouane is such a rad place for a surf holiday.
Where do you hail from and what brought you to Morocco?
I grew up in different parts of France and abroad for a few years, but always felt a special connection with the coastline of the Aquitaine region. What brought me for the first time to Morocco are my parents, who sent me to a surf camp during the summer holidays in Imsouane.
I was 14, it was my first surf holiday, and Imsouane’s first and only surf camp. I had the best time of my life as we surfed alone the crystal clear waters of this now world-class famous spot and ate grilled fish on the beach.
It’s only about 10 years later that life took me back to Imsouane, when I met Marcel who had a long history of surf trips in this region and had already created a restaurant in Imsouane. His desire to open a surf camp led us to quit Europe and make this dream come true! We started working together on Sandycamps in 2016.
How long have you been surfing for?
I’ve been surfing since I’m 14, so that’s close to 20 years now! Marcel started around that age as well. We will never be the best surfers in the water, but definitely having a lot of fun!
What makes surfing in Imsouane so special?
The scenery, the unbelievably long perfect waves, the sun shining every single day, the diversity of waves, the sandy bottom and danger-free environment and the swell consistency. The kindness and generosity of Moroccan people is really the cherry on top.
How have things been in Imsouane since the pandemic hit?
After all the tourists left the country, Imsouane became a ghost town for several months. That was a very special feeling and it was incredible to see Imsouane empty like 15 years ago. Unfortunately the beaches were closed and it was not allowed for the few remaining to surf.
Rules kept changing as the virus evolved in both Morocco and Europe. Overall Morocco did surprisingly well with handling the crisis and always kept it under control. Imsouane is far from big cities, so besides the lack of tourists, life came back to somewhat normal after the summer 2020.
As of this April 2021, Morocco has stopped flights with 40 countries but some tourists managed to slip through the cracks and you can find some Russians, French and some other tourists enjoying a break from lockdowns in Imsouane. We expect tourism to pick up again during the summer and things should only get better from there.
Where are most of your guests from?
Our guests are from all over the world, with most coming from the UK, Germany and France. This is closely followed by the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Sweden, but also countries afield like USA, Australia and New Zealand.
What services does your surf camp offer?
We offer all-inclusive packages with accommodation, meals, surf and yoga lessons, and other cool activities. This is set on a beautiful 5000 square metre property with gardens, terraces, a pool, two restaurants and an amazing team. We also run a Surf House facing the ocean with a beautiful view of the waves and sunsets.
What people like the most is the conviviality, friendly vibe of the camp and that we take care of everything so they don’t have to think, only enjoy their holidays and have fun.
How have surf camps in Morocco evolved over the last 10 years?
In 10 years, surf camps have increased in number and higher standards have emerged. You can now find luxurious accommodations in the most famous spots of the region.
You are opening another surf camp in Portugal later on this year. Tell us more about it.
Yes! It was on our list for a while, and although launching a new business during a world crisis seems counter-intuitive, the sudden stop of all activities gave us the time to work on that new project. In June 2021, we will open Sandycamps Surfhouse in Peniche, Portugal.
This destination is very famous among surfers and the high season in Portugal is the opposite of Morocco, so it’s the perfect match for our guests and for the development of Sandycamps. The house has the best location possible, a few steps from the beach, surf spots, cool bars and popular restaurants.
It has a big garden where we will organize activities like yoga lessons, slackline sessions and workouts, but also barbecue parties. We are very excited to offer this new destination and eager to welcome our first guests.
What’s the best wave you’ve ever surfed?
I have been very lucky to surf in amazing countries like Tahiti, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Chile, Portugal, Morocco, Panama, and I have seen first-hand waves from magazine covers. But so far, Imsouane’s bay is my favourite spot for sure. It’s a right-handed wave and I’m regular, the water temperature is good. There are no sharks, no dangers, it’s a sandy bottom, and it is super easy to surf!
Longboard or shortboard?
Longboard in Imsouane’s bay, shortboard on the other spots.
What are your thoughts on surfing as an Olympic sport?
It’s great! Surfing will gain value and popularity. If snowboarding and skateboarding are part of the Olympics, shouldn’t surfing be too? It makes sense to me. Some say it will prompt even more people to surf, but so what? It would be selfish to wish surfing remains within a closed circle, it should be inclusive and accessible.
Like all outdoor sports, it connects you to nature and triggers beautiful emotions. So many of the people we welcome at our camp are environmentally aware and ask about plastic, pollution, recycling, beach cleaning, etc.
It is a great sign that many new surfers have high expectations and will prefer to spend their money in businesses that have a positive impact. Ultimately it should lift surfing and its industry towards more sustainability.