Essaouira is a 2 hour drive from Marrakech along new smooth roads, crossing miles of Argan tree land and passing through fascinating traditional villages.
We enjoyed the drive but as soon as we hit the incredible sweeping bay and open seafront of this beautiful old medina we were glad to be out of the crazy busy cities of Morocco for a relaxing few days!
We stayed at the very large, quiet and comfortable Hotel Atlas Essaouira & Spa which was ideally situated right on the beach front, bang in the middle of the bay. The wide sandy beach sweeping around to the left was the camel ride, horse riding and friendly wild dog area that led to endless sand dunes and miles of wild, untouched beach. To the right was the busier side of things with beach clubs, restaurants and bars leading you right around to the old medina and famous fishing port.
An interesting and varied walk whichever direction you take … if you are looking for a relaxing stroll, meeting some interesting characters en route then turn left … for more interaction, life and food turn right! We found the location perfect as we could pick and choose what type of day we were after!
The landscaped promenade with palm trees, full flowerbeds, wide smooth paths and uninterrupted views was a carefree stroll if you didn’t want to walk directly on the beach and get sand between your toes! The days were hot but the Atlantic sea was freezing – a few brave people went in and there were lots of group surfing lessons going on but they were all in full wet suits!
In fact this coastline is known to be windy hence a lot of surfing, kite surfing and wave riding schools and kit about, with many finding the continuous wind too much … but we have to say that for the 2 weeks in September that we were there we only actually had one windy day that was whipping up the sand and making it uncomfortable to be on the front!
The famous and ancient medina was, as all medinas are, absolutely fascinating to wander through with no end of twists and turns in the labyrinth of alleyways full of character, street art, hole in the wall eateries, piles of carpets and amazing faces and colourful characters! Can be hard going with the constant calling in to look at their wares but in general great fun and always interesting!
Although the medina is painted totally white there is a more prominent colour that symbolises Essaouira and that is without doubt BLUE in all of its wonderful shades! The incredible old port that flanks the medina is a myriad of bright blue fishing boats, hundreds of circling seagulls and turquoise fishing huts!
Hustle and bustle is not enough to describe this area in the mornings as the trawlers come into port piled high with fresh sardines! People buying fish, people setting up stalls of fish, people grilling fish, people eating lots of fish … you get the picture, it is fishy!!
Around the whole bay it is colourful too with blossom hanging heavy from balconies, landscaped areas along the seafront and many of the white houses have very brightly coloured doors and window frames … we loved the positive and happy vibes here!
And it was impossible to tire of the wide expanse of sandy beach that at any time of day looked inviting with something going on somewhere along it. All in all for an area not that large we had more than plenty to discover and enjoy – and we truly did!
We love Morocco so here are our other posts that might be of interest to you :
Driving in Morocco 2017 – roads & tips!
Moroccan Medinas – colour texture details!