Moroccan Surf Town Imsouane, Home To World’s Premier Logging Wave, Demolished In 24-Hour Blitzkrieg
‘All you kooks with your yoga retreats and surf schools just namaste’d this place into the rubble,’ wrote Joel Tudor.
Demolition operations have commenced in the picturesque Moroccan surfing town of Imsouane, home to one of the world’s premier logging waves as seen in Red Bull No Contest. Residents and business owners were given a mere 24-hour notice to leave their properties before bulldozers arrived on the scene.
Imsouane boasts one of the world’s premier longboarding waves and one-of the longest right points in Africa. Imsouane translates as “the drinking mouth,” with its river-fed Bay drinking in the swell from the Atlantic Ocean. On its day, the wave at the village offers waves that can stretch for almost 900 meters.
This exceptional quality has led to the establishment of numerous surf retreats and schools in close proximity to the shoreline over time, particularly in the past 25-years since surfers began visiting the town. A study published last year found there were 100,000 board-carrying visitors passing through the town each year. All dwellings that have not been given ‘official government licenses’ are threatened as they are ‘technically illegal’. That means a great deal of them, some of which have housed Berber fishing families for generations.
Moroccan big wave surfer Othmane Choufani offered the following analysis, “It’s sad for sure because it will lose it’s authenticity, but the truth is I have been camping at Imsouane with my parents since 94-95, and none of these illegal houses were there. These house were built illegally and people were even doing business on land they don’t own. The law is the law in Moroccon and you can’t build in front of the ocean like that as it’s the maritime public space. It’s sad but all these people knew it was coming, and even some very influential and wealthy people from Casablanca had their house destroyed two days ago. The law is the law and all these people were building shitty stuff and all their toilet runoff and shitty water was going straight into the ocean in Imsouane.”
21,000 people have since signed a petition calling for a halt on the demolition operations, a GoFundMe has been started to pay for legal fees and to help locals with rebuilding and relocating. This follows a similar pattern to what happened in Tifnit, a charming surfing town located approximately two hours south of Imsouane, which was demolished in December to facilitate the construction of ‘sustainable buildings’.
Similar developments have occurred in Tamraght, Taghazout, and Aourir near Anchor Point as part of the $1 billion Taghazout Bay project. This initiative, integral to the government’s Vision 2020 to boost tourism, includes beachfront cafes, luxury hotels, residential apartments, and a three-mile beach promenade. It aims to increase Morocco’s share in the global surf tourism market, estimated to reach $3.1 billion by 2026.
Anecdotal evidence suggests occupancy has been low at the big hotels.
Longboarding World Champ Joel Tudor took to IG to vent his disgust, thumbing “all you kooks with your yoga retreats, surf camps and online magazines that have blown this place (Tifnit) up since blowvid… I hope you’re happy now… y’all just namaste’d this place into rubble soon to be high-end rentals.”
Moroccan CT surfer Ramzi Boukhaim wrote, “I’m not against big projects, but I really feel like we gotta save and keep a few special places that we have along the coast authentic, cultural, charm(ing) villages.”
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