THE couple of days before setting off on a family holiday are always busy – there's finding all the summer clothes, checking the first aid kit and tracking down those passports, writes Becky.
Next time you go away, though, there's one little ritual I'd like to suggest you add to the list – take five minutes to check your children's hand luggage for contraband. That way you won't find out mid-security check that your child has inadvertently left a spud gun in the front of his backpack and get a nasty shock, and a good telling off.
On to Morocco, though. We visited Agadir – a popular coastal destination with an incredible six miles of silky golden sand. Our hotel was booked with First Choice (something we were later grateful for, given that we ended up spending an extra five days in the resort due to the volcanic ash cloud grounding all flights) and was perched right on the long stretch of walkway that follows Agadir's beautiful coastline right round to the harbour. Agadir is a great choice for families as it's a little over 3 hours away with a 20 – 30 minute transfer from the airport.
Travelling with older children is often a problem as they demand a little more freedom. Happily we felt safe letting our teen explore the beach on his own. The crime rate in Morocco is very low. Moroccans are friendly and the area is safe to explore (even at night, if you like). Agadir's beach is well patrolled by friendly policemen on quad bikes and the swimmers are constantly monitored by very well equipped teams of lifeguards. This section of Atlantic coast is known for its currents, though, so monitor your younger children and make sure they keep to the shallow water. Another tip: don't hire jetskis from the beach traders. The machines are unlicensed and uninsured, and often not very well cared for. In fact, it's best not to accept any offers of trips unless offered by your tour operator. We were told there were several less than scrupulous operations in the area.
Around Agadir, there are some fabulous sites: the fish market at the port area is well worth a look. Visit in the evening when the fishermen are returning with their catch – there are some great restaurants around this area where you can sample the goods, too. The Kasbah is perched high on a hill above Agadir town. Originally built by the Berbers as a hill-top fortress, it's a pretty strenuous hour's walk uphill if you're feeling fit, but you can grab a taxi from your hotel pretty cheaply to take you to the top (just make sure the taxi driver waits for you – it can be difficult to hail a taxi at the Kasbah). There's a beautiful view and you may even be tempted by a camel ride!
Most tour operators offer day trips to nearby Marrakech, but be warned: some sights at the Souk, especially those involving animals, might be a little much for young children, so it might be more advisable to take advantage of the hotel kids' club and explore on your own.
We stayed at the Decameron Tafoukt Hotel, which was clean and friendly with good food and excellent facilities (although slightly over the top on the entertainment), but there are a large selection of hotels dotted along the coastline. Here's a quick guided tour around our hotel room:
and you'll be delighted to discover that my children put on a bit of impromptu video entertainment for you at the poolside:
Altogether, we'd recommend Morocco as a family holiday destination. The weather is warm all year round, and between April and October you're pretty much guaranteed to experience temperatures in the 70s. Just do yourself a favour and leave your spud guns at home, eh?