After a few awesome days in Essaouira, Morocco, my boyfriend and I’s next stop was a hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco.
I had no idea this plot of paradise existed in Morocco, a landscape I typically thought of as rocky or a desert. Instead, this park near Agadir is known for its waterfalls and crystal blue lagoons.
Once I learned about this slice of paradise in the Middle Atlas Mountains, I knew we had to detour on our way to Marrakesh to experience this little slice of Moroccan paradise.
Tip: The best time to visit Paradise Valley, Morocco is during the late-winter months and early spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Anytime between January-March would be ideal.
Unfortunately, the pools were almost entirely dried up in late May when we visited. The AirBnB Experience was still absolutely worth the visit, even during the warm summer months. The experience included a stop at a women’s co-op, lunch in Paradise Valley, and a hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco.
My partner referenced in this blog post and I are no longer together. Out of respect, I won’t use his name or show pictures of us together. I felt it important, though, to include him in this story so solo female travelers don’t seek advice from me about traveling through Morocco. I likely had a very different experience as a woman traveling with a male partner. If you have solo female travel questions, I suggest you check out other travelers’ Morocco stories! I hope my blog post can still give you advice and inspiration for other aspects of Morocco!
A Gorgeous Coastal Drive
The drive from Essaouira to Agadir took approximately 3.5 hours, including a refueling stop and a photo stop at the beautiful Atlantic cliffside…also a convenient bathroom break!
There are not many stops along this route so ensure you’re topped off on fuel on your way out of Essaouira.
The first two-thirds of the drive start to become more hilly as you enter the Southern part of Morocco. Eventually, the highway takes you along the beautiful coastline all the way into Agadir. I kept taking photos from the window until, eventually, we found a safe pull-over spot. It was certainly not an official viewpoint, but there was enough leveled dirt on the side to pull over, park, and wander a little bit.
Majid–A Super Host!
Finally, we arrived in Agadir. The host Majid communicated excellently over the AirBnB app. Pick-up is included in the AirBnB experience, so I explained to the host that we were not staying overnight in Agadir and were driving in from Essaouira. He recommended we met at a local shopping mall where our car and personal belongings inside would be safe during the tour. We also were running about 20 minutes late to the meeting point. Majid was very understanding and did not stress about our tardiness.
Majid continued to be an exceptional host throughout the tour. Since he was born and raised in Morocco, but also lived for some time in Spain, he loves sharing his version of Morocco with foreigners. We learned so much from him! We asked a lot of questions about property laws in Morocco because my partner and I were dreaming about buying a beach cottage in Essaouira.
We learned there is no property inheritance tax in Morocco, cars are extremely expensive due to high export/import fees, Morocco has the largest solar panel farm in the world and is building the world’s longest ocean powerline to send some of this solar energy to the United Kingdom, and many Moroccans love former President Trump because he publicly recognized the entirety of the Sahara Desert as Moroccan.
Majid was equally fascinated learning about our lives. Our conversations flowed non-stop as we all got to know one another. By the end of the day, I was as invested in his family’s life as he was in ours! I love the moments traveling where you develop a deep connection with a stranger. Majid truly became a friend by the end of the day. If I ever returned to Agadir, I would certainly message him and invite him and his family to dinner!
Visiting A Women’s Argan Co-Op
En route to Paradise Valley from Agadir is a popular stop–a women’s Argan Oil co-op. I thought this was a unique find, only known by those traveling with locals, but it turns out many tours stop here. Thankfully we went in late May when the heat discourages tourists from visiting Morocco at all. Also, Majid is good friends with the women. They treated him, and therefore us, as VIP guests.
First, Majid translated for one of the young female tour guides as she explained the history and modern operations of the Argan co-op. She explained how argan oil is made and we watched the first steps as a woman broke open the argan nuts. She made it seem easy and swift, but when we were invited to try our hand, we struggled to crack open the nuts.
Moving on from our failed futures as argan oil producers, we walked around the co-op’s garden. They grow lots of Argan obviously, but they grew much more than that. The garden was absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed stopping to smell the flora and learning how Moroccans traditionally use some of the herbs, spices, flowers, and more.
We spent a decent amount of time trying free samples of Argan products, such as lotions, face creams, nut butter, honey, and more. Although we loved every single product we tried, especially the honey, we packed carry-on only and had to meticulously pick which souvenir to bring home. We opted for small jars of argan honey and nut butter, both of which quickly were eaten once back home.
Tip: The shop at the women’s Argan co-op only accepts cash. Be sure to get some at an ATM before meeting Majid if you’d like to purchase some souvenirs or gifts. Trust me–you’ll find something from their hundreds of products you’ll be dying to bring back home!
The Hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco
After a stop at the co-op, we hopped back in Majid’s car and traveled the windy roads to Paradise Valley.
As with most parks, there are multiple points of entry into the park and numerous hiking paths. I appreciated Majid’s expertise so that I wouldn’t have to spend time researching where to go, how to get there, or which paths to take inside the park.
Majid made transportation to the park so much easier. There’s no public transportation to the park, so we would’ve had to drive. Although we had a car, the parking where we entered the park was minimal, and it appeared that way at other entrance points we passed along the route. Although my partner doesn’t mind the challenge, I’m happy we didn’t have to deal with it.
I especially appreciated Majid as we started our hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco. Majid knew the path to the main sites without even stopping to look around. It seemed like his body flowed in the direction it was supposed to go with no second thought about it.
The signage in the park doesn’t seem particularly clear. Majid said some tourists do get lost in Paradise Valley sometimes. Considering how hot it was, intensified by the sun reflecting off the exposed rocks and minimal tree cover, getting lost on a hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco would not have a good ending.
You can choose whether you want to have a guide or not while hiking in Paradise Valley, I recommend hiring a guide (especially Majid!) to be safe.
On the hike, Majid showed us where the pools are normally located. Since it was summer, the pools had evaporated. They return every year, with the best time to visit in late Winter or early Spring. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable and easy hike in Moroccan nature.
Next, we stopped at a small pool where we could swim if we wanted. We found a tiny outlet to soak our feet with fish to clean our feet. The little nibbles were really ticklish! I was terrified of the larger fish cleaning my feet but didn’t mind the babies. My partner said the larger fish didn’t hurt, though.
After the pools, we continued the easy hike to a small restaurant. We walked across a mini bridge to cross a pool to sit under the shade. We sat on the ground around a table to eat a traditional Moroccan meal. At this point, we had eaten tagine several times and were starting to get bored with it. Majid made chicken tagine fresh to our tastebuds again by explaining the dish and its traditions.
We sat around the table, chatted, and laughed for over an hour. We ate, sipped Morocco’s traditional tea–that’s extremely sugar-heavy but absolutely delicious–and continued getting to know each other and sharing our mix of cultures. The co-op and hike were fun stops, but lunch in Paradise Valley with Majid is my favorite memory from the day.
The meal is included in the tour price. Majid selects which dishes to order, but he offers a few choices and can make special accommodations for dietary preferences.
After our late lunch, we hiked back to the car and Majid drove us back to our rental car. We said our goodbyes, gave hugs, and made promises to reach out to each other if either of us visited each other’s countries.
What to Wear for a Hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco
We wore closed-toed shoes on this hike, but I would suggest waterproof sandals with straps instead. Tevas or a similar type of shoe would be the best option because they’d stay on your feet while hiking, but your feet can also dry off if you choose to swim or soak your feet.
Be sure to bring a change of clothes, too, if you want to swim in the pools!
Finally, pack lots of water and snacks! My partner and I each had a Nalgene water bottle and drank all of it and even bought water along the way. Thankfully there are plenty of little stands around Paradise Valley to buy snacks and water, but it’s better to bring plenty of water in a reusable bottle to save money and reduce plastic.
You won’t regret a hike in Paradise Valley, Morocco. This is a perfect day trip from Agadir. Not many foreigners visit Agadir, but Paradise Valley is worth the detour from Essaouira or Marrakesh. If you visit, I highly recommend visiting with Majid on his AirBnB Experience.
Leave a reply