Essaouira is Morocco’s age old port mixes mystical Gnawa’s traditions, hippy myths, surf hangouts and a thriving life with history and fishing ports. Only 168 km from Marrakech, it is there where the building stop being red, ochre or pink and switch to blue and white- the colours of earth and vegetation displayed by the colours of sea and sky. This elemental reorientation is matched by a change in climate. Where Marrakech is hot and arid, Essaouira is subject to winds that keep at bay the searing temperature of the interior.
It has become in few years the most favoured coastal town since it both offers contrast and an escape. Essaouira has managed to retain a laid back timelessness rarely felt in the seething streets of the busy cities. It is a relaxing place and a charming one too.
General Trips :
- When you arrive at airport get some change before you ask for a taxi transfer’s prizes.
- For those who plan to stay in Morocco a bit longer, buy a cheap mobile phone for local and national calls.
- The daytime is on the whole nice but often windy and we would recommend bringing something cool and light to use as a cover up with a wind-stopper! For evenings out in Essaouira bring a long (but light) pair of pants or skirt in case it is cold. We would say a smart jacket or cardigan is also essential for warmth on cooler nights
- Bring an extra suitcase, in case you decide to purchase a famous Moroccan room-size rug or other items in one of the very few Morocco’s free of hassle markets.
- Despite the cold waters of the sea, one can enjoy a swim on the coast.
ESSAOUIRA’S BEST VIEWS:
- A day trip to Sidi Kaouki for some great waves and serene seaside walks
- Horse or camel rides for some great fun on the city’s beach
- A wander amongst the alleyways, souks, fish market and Jewish quarter and later on chill-out on a terraced café
- Organize a cooking lesson in one of the kitchens built for the same purpose
- Sunbathe on the beach, surf or kite surf near the seaside of the city.
WHERE TO PLAY :
- Cooking Workshops and before that an expedition into local markets.
- Ethno art shop, around the souks and alleyways where craftsmen workshops thrive
- Place Moulay Hassan is the social centre where you can watch the theatre of the medina unfolding
- Quad bikes outside the city on the seaside
- The narrow alleyways leading to the Squalla, sit on top of the ramparts or north bastion for some romantic or contemplative moments.
- Hammams and some scrub in a traditional way
- The Mellah or Jewish alleyways
- The Souks with butchers, vegetables and fish or even spices or herbalists stalls are worth a wander
- The beaches around Diabbat , ideal for windsurfing
How to get Around :
•Get a certified and licensed city guide to show you around, explain properly the cultural sides of your tour and serve as a shield against the hustles of the market place vendors.
•The smallness of the city is an advantage to explore the ensemble without much need of means of transport. Cars or taxis are not allowed in the medina which is an eco friendly way to keep the air cleaner
• The Petit Taxis have meters but the drivers tend to forget using them with tourists. It is always good to negotiate the price in advance, but keep in mind that at night, the prices are 50% more than during the day.
Where to Eat
- The best budget lunch is fresh charcoal-grilled and eaten on the quayside. Dozens of stalls serve varied fresh fish for some reasonable prizes
- Attached to the beachfront some quite interesting bars, restaurants and cafes with terraces overlooking the sands.
- In a prime location the Taros F has several floors which has several things on offer but essentially the best view in town and a live music performance
- For a Buddha Bar ambiance in well managed Riad The Patio is certainly the evening place with a great selection of food and trendy music.
- Madada has certainly more French than Moroccan, yet the address is worth try when all possibilities are over. They also started cooking lesson which you can combine for some change.
•The Gnawa music festival is described as the world best jam session. Around every June thousands of world music fans gather to celebrate former slaves’ chants mixed with Jazz and rock artists’ performances. The stages become a theater displaying vibrant color and abounding live rhythms of great invigorating sensations.
•The festival des Alizées is a mix of Hispanic, Andalusian and Arabic music where artists from Spain, South America and Morocco find common cultural and historical grounds.