What You Need To Know
With a busy port and beach resort sprawling beneath its kasbah, Agadir was completely rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1960. It is now Morocco’s premier destination for sun, sand, pubs and pizza. Laid out as a large grid of downtown streets, surrounded by spacious residential suburbs, Agadir’s concrete-covered inland quarters are ugly and sterile. However, the city hits its stride on the beachfront promenade, where Moroccan street life comes with a refreshing sense of space. Arching south of the shiny white marina, the sandy beach offers clean water and 300 sunny days a year.
Agadir caters mainly to package-tour holidaymakers, and will appeal less to independent travelers. Families will also enjoy relaxing on the beach and wandering around the handful of sights.
- The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham, denoted as MAD or Dhs. The Moroccan Dirham is composed of 100 centimes; notes are available in denominations of (Dhs) 200, 100, 50, 25, and 20, all in new and old varieties and coins are available in denominations of (Dhs) 10, 5, 2 and 1, or 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes. There are several types of 10 and 5 Dirham coins in circulation.
- The Dirham is officially designated as a closed currency meaning it can only be traded within Morocco , however, Dirhams are being sold and bought in travel agencies and at major airports in several countries. The import and export of the currency is tolerated up to a limit of 1000DH. Currency purchased during a visit to Morocco should be converted back before departing the country, with the exception of the 1000Dh level. Travellers should be advised to keep the receipts of currency exchange, as these will be required for the conversion of Dirham back to foreign currency prior to departure and before you go through passport control. You can change as many Dirhams as you have left. At Marrakech airport the exchange rate is very similar to that in the town centre, so there is not much loss in waiting to the last minute to change your remaining Dirhams.
Most of the main foreign currencies may be exchanged at a Bureau de Change in the airport or port upon arrival, at a bank and in most hotels although smaller hotels in more remote areas may not be able to exchange large amounts at one time without prior notice.
When bringing paper currency into Morocco (U.S. Dollars, British Pounds, Euros etc.), these must be in good condition–no tears or ink marks. Do not bring Scottish, Gibraltar or Northern Irish Sterling notes as they are impossible to cash, as are Australian and New Zealand notes and Singapore Dollars. Beware of bringing in brand new designs of banknotes, for example when the Bank of England introduced the new ‘Adam Smith’ £20 note in March 2007, the Moroccan banks would not change them as their records only showed the older, and at that time still legal, ‘Sir Edward Elgar’ £20 notes.
- ATMs can now be found in abundance in most towns and accept Visa, Maestro, Cirrus etc but these will usually incur charges. You should check with your bank as charges for using ATMs abroad may make exchanging cash a better option.
Using a credit card (VISA etc) to obtain money from ATM’s is also possible but one must remember that interest is charged from the moment money is dispensed. The normal practice of an interest-free period which applies to purchases, typically over 50 days, made on the card does NOT apply to cash withdrawals. Banks will allow cheques to be cashed but must be supported by a guarantee card.
It is advisable not to take travellers cheques as it is very difficult to find a bank that will cash them and although some hotels may still cash these, the commission rates are high and are charged per cheque.
Located in the southwest of Morocco along the Atlantic ocean, Agadir enjoys a hot Mediterranean climate all year long with mild winters and hot summers. The rainiest months are March and November. The coastal regions are lavished with sunshine. The sun’s rays are constant throughout the year and you can soak up their goodness in any season. Agadir, is on the shores of the Atlantic. As the country’s premier seaside resort town, it offers fans of la dolce vita 300 days of sun per year with mild temperatures and gentle breezes.
Some people will say that there is only one official or national language of Morocco, and it is Modern Standard Arabic, but others will tell you that Berber is also an official Moroccan language. In formal situations you will find people using Modern Standard Arabic, as well as any written documents. Most schools are taught in this dialect of Arabic as well.
Most Moroccans are capable of speaking more than just one of their native languages. At least half of the country’s population is capable of speaking French and many of those involved in the tourism industry are capable of speaking some English and a few other foreign languages as well. This means you should be able to get by in most parts of the country quite easily without even trying very hard. But if you really want to open doors or have a less frustrating adventure, you should really try to speak a little Arabic or French.
Modern Standard Arabic may be the go-to language for formal situations in Morocco, but years under French rule left a lasting impression that cannot be denied. In 1912, French was introduced as the language of the government, educational institutions, and more. Modern Standard Arabic was even eclipsed a bit by this change, and went to being used only in traditional and religious settings.
Today, French is still used for many official and government purposes. It sort of acts as the common language for those in the business and government sectors. It is seen as the language of science, technology, and more, while Modern Standard Arabic is regarded as the more traditional official language. Most Moroccans feel that it is necessary to speak a European language in order to maintain contact with the rest of the world and keep up in terms of technology and science.
Health and security
- See your doctor before you travel. It is also recommended to take out insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation. Agadir counts several hospitals and medical institutions as well as medical practitioners.
No vaccine is mandatory to stay in Agadir. However, it is recommended you protect yourself against hepatitis A and B, and typhoid.
- Within the city of Agadir you will notice uniformed police throughout the tourist areas and around the Royal Palaces. More reassuring are the numbers of plain clothes police who work to keep you safe. The police checkpoints between towns are becoming rarer, but occasionally there will be a road checkpoint. Tourists are usually waved through unless travelling with Moroccans when they may ask for ID. There is no need to carry your passport, either a photocopy or your drivers licence is enough. Morocco has experienced terrorism, as has London, New York and Madrid. If you see unattended bags in cafes or tourist areas tell a member of staff, as you would do in the rest of the world.
As with anywhere in the world it is about taking simple steps to make sure you are not a victim of crime. Don’t wear expensive jewellery. Be discreet with smart phones and ipads and certainly don’t leave anything of value on display in your hire car. Don’t take valuables to the beach. If your accommodation has a safe box, use it. Avoid unlit streets and the beach after dark. Take care when in crowds, especially in the souk (market) and when on the bus, pickpockets operate everywhere in the world.
- Morocco is a muslim country and showing respect for the culture, will earn you the respect of locals. This is especially so for ladies, if you don’t want to draw unwanted attention from men and looks of disgust from women then think about what you are wearing. Beachwear is for the beach and pool. When out of the hotel mini-skirts and tight low cut tops and vests should be avoided.
- There are mixed views on the safety of tap water, if you are a first time traveller to the country you may want to avoid it. Although fortunately brushing teeth and rinsing a toothbrush should do no harm. Ice is usually from a machine or factory made and is generally ok. Salads will have been washed in tap water. The main concern is from undercooked meat, poorly stored diary products and personal hygiene.
- In Morocco, the tip is not included in the bill. It is therefore considered polite to leave a percentage for the service from 10 to 15% of the total bill. A tip to the housekeeping staff (maids, porters…) in hotels is appreciated.
- You are in a beautiful country, and so go out and explore it and love what this diverse and unique peice of Africa can offer you!