Essaouira has a laid-back soul. It feels more a child of bohemian sixties Morocco than of medieval Morocco like much of the country. Hendrix hung out here, as did Hemingway and a countless other artists, musicians and writers.
However – enter into the Unesco-listed medina and it’s classic Morocco at it’s best.
Winding cobbled passaged hide little art galleries, traditional jewellers and artisan stores where crafts are made from the thuya tree. Whitewashed buildings are adorned with blue shutters, boat-builders go about there time honoured trade and there’s a total absence of cars and pollution.
Spicy aromas fill the air, while the sound of drums and gnaoua music is never far away. Wandering the ancient ramparts and battlements is a must, but there’s a modern side too with a good choice of upmarket French restaurants and luxurious spa boutiques.
The beach extends south from the fishing harbour for around ten golden kilometres. A handful of some of the most luxurious resorts and boutiques sit on the beachfront. Offshore, on its own little sandbar, lies the crumbling Essaouira citadel in all its beauty.
The near-constant wind rolling in from the Atlantic attracts windsurfers and kitesurfers from all over the world. Although it doesn’t always lend itself to sunbathing on the beach. That’s part of the charm though – Essaouira is no Agadir; mass tourism and development is just not the done thing around here.
A couple of hours north lies Oualidia, a sleepy coastal retreat popular with surfers and Moroccan royalty. An 11km lagoon, protected from the ocean, provides a tranquil setting, while there’s a crescent of honey-coloured sands at its southern end. Pink flamingos often stop here on their way from Spain to sub-Saharan Africa. Oualidia’s proximately to Marrakech makes it the perfect place to chill out for a few days after exploring the Red City.
With a luxury tour of Essaouira and its coast from Lightfoot Travel, you’ll receive expert and impartial advice from our regional specialists on where to stay and what to include in your bespoke itinerary.