Agadir is a modern town which was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake on 29 February 1960; it was rebuilt with tourism in mind but sadly the Swiss architects gave no consideration to its former appearance and hence it resembles any typical Mediterranean resort town you care to name.
The tourist area of Agadir known as Secteur Touristique is clean and very presentable, like a picture-postcard in places. Streets are lined with olive and palm trees on the the main roads where hotels and restaurants are to be found.
The beach is easy to get to and also has access from those hotels situated on the beach front via the newly built promenade which links up with the old one extending to several kilometres in total. A walk along the beach one way takes you to the kasbah and port and in the other direction one will be summarily stopped by police officers blocking your approach to the Royal Palace located about 5Km beyond, a shame really as this stretch of beach is by far the best.
The tourist sector comprises three main roads parallel to one another; Avenue Hassan II, Ave Mohammed V and Boulevard du 20 Aout, which leads onto Chemin Des Dunes and Chemin Oued Souss. These are where the main tourist hotels and restaurants of Agadir are situated and walking on foot is easy as the area is realistically quite small.
What to See and Do
Although Agadir is modern, there are still sights worth seeing, these being the port, the souk and the kasbah. The kasbah is an old fortress overlooking the town and visible from miles around. A guided tour of the city, taking approx three hours, can include a visit to the local museum, a stop at the main mosque of Agadir, a visit to the port to see boat building in progress, a visit up to the kasbah which is now a graveyard where many were buried as a result of the earthquake and subsequently their remains were left, and a visit to Souk al Had, said to be the largest souk in North Africa covering four square kilometres.
Typical trips on offer from Agadir are Marrakech for one or two days; Agadir city tour; Tafraout & Tiznit including an 1100m ascent into the Atlas Mountains; a Berber soire; a visit to Essaouira; half day trip to Taroudant which has been described as a miniature version of Marrakech; Camel or Horse trekking and others. Trips into the desert are also possible but these are usually for two days. Watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean is not to be missed whilst enjoying an ice cream from Ice Legend on the promenade. Many of the excursions mentioned can be done without the aid of guides or tour operators for a fraction of the cost.
Other attractions in Agadir include Valee de Oiseaux, a bird and wildlife sanctuary although conditions for some of the large birds of prey and the Macaque monkeys are totally inadequate; the Petit Train will give a tour of the areas and sights around Agadir centre; the beach with its reputed 11Km of golden sand and La Medina d’Agadir which is a reproduction of the original medina also destroyed by the earthquake. It is inexpensive to visit the Medina and a return trip with hotel pickup and drop-off and entry costs around 60Dh. There are also several parks to visit around Agadir.
Tipping is not obligatory although Moroccans will generally be very happy with a few dirhams; some deserve more than others – waiters get tipped regularly although the doorman of a hotel gets little so certainly deserves some consideration. Chamber maids and cleaning staff also get next to nothing where wages in Morocco are terribly low, typically 40Dh/€4 per day.
On money matters, Moroccan currency is known as the Dirham (abbreviated to Dh or MAD). Shop owners usually round down the rate of exchange to 10Dh to €1 for those preferring to pay in Euros, thereby overcharging the traveller slightly; it is therefore wise to always pay for products and services in local currency and to exchange at the airport or port immediately on arrival. More can be read on this subject in the section “Before You Go” and then the sub-section “Banks And Money”.
Moroccan notes are in denominations of 200Dh, 100Dh, 50Dh and 20Dh. Coins are in denominations of 10Dh, 5Dh, 1Dh, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.
Moroccan currency cannot be acquired outside of Morocco so it is wise to take paper currency of your country in as near perfect condition as possible or use one of the numerous ATM’s in hotels and at banks but remember to notify your bank prior to departure in you intend to acquire cash through ATM’s.
Withdrawing money from an ATM should be done before Friday as banks generally do not refill them in readiness for the weekend.
Shopping can be a daunting experience as many items have no set price in the markets or shops and the tourist is expected to haggle; starting at about one third the asking price is usually the way. There are fixed price shops and kiosks but the largest is Uniprix on Ave Hassan II. Here you can buy clothing, jewelry, postcards, shoes, leather items, souvenirs, bags etc but prices for these are generally higher than elsewhere although it is convenient and cuts out haggling; foodstuff, wines and alcohol are also available at reasonable cost.
One of the largest supermarkets in town is Marjane, a european style supermarket easily accessible by petit taxi for about 12Dh. Local produce is of good quality and cheap but imported items are expensive, as they are wherever you find them.
Taxis are widely available and should cost no more than about 10Dh for local trips; the orange petit taxis (Peugots) are metered whereas the cream coloured grand taxis (Mercedes) are privately run, unmetered and drivers may try to extract around 70D for a short distance journey, always agree a fare before getting in.
Petit taxi drivers are becoming more unscrupulous and readilly cheat tourists by several means; “forgetting” to turn on the meter or saying it does not work, others do not reset the meter adding to the previous fare thereby overcharging. For short journeys you should pay no more than about 12Dh although some of the older drivers to be more honest at turning on the meter and not cheating.
Food and Drink
There are no shortages of restaurants in the tourist sector but the better class are found on Boulevard du 20 Aout, close to the beach front hotels. Top restaurants are Le Jazz , Catanzaro and La Scala which is frequented by the King of Morocco although the place would then be closed to visitors. There are also western style eateries, in particular McDonalds and Pizza Hut. In the Talborjt district, where the local people live and eat, there are many restaurants offering three course meals for 45Dh, an excellent one being Ibtissam. One should, however, avoid the Bab Marrakech who offer family size portions and charge accordingly, even though you may eat alone and only expect a smaller helping; 150Dh is not uncommon.
Water should only be drunk from bottles which should cost around 6Dh for 1.5L and is available from street kiosks, local shops or Hyper Marjane. Do not drink tap water, only use it to wash with or clean your teeth. If you buy water from a hotel, you will pay far too much, 15 or 18Dh is typical for 1.5L.
Food will invariably be cleaned with tap water but salads in particular should be avoided when eating outside of the restaurant; having said this many tourists do not experience food poisoning, but do remember to pack Imodium or similar.