Morocco Tours by Erlebnis Tours Maroc






  
  
  
     
     
     
     







       
 

Essaouira

Introduction

Pronounced 'Essa-wira', Essaouira's houses and shops in the medina are white-washed with blue doors and shutters and are popular with more independent travellers. An expansive sandy beach is located next to the harbour and is shallow enough for safe bathing.

Essaouira is a fascinating former Portuguese fishing port. This is the place to eat fish - sit down at any stall in the harbour and feast yourself on the freshest and most varied fish BBQ you will ever encounter. Also famous for inlaid woodwork (thuya and cedar). Essaouira is now a very relaxed town although it was frequented in the past by rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger and stood as the location for Orson Welles’ famous film of Shakespeare’s Othello.

Although the area is very popular and world-renowned for surfers, its reputation as Morocco's 'windy city' is exaggerated, in fact the sea breezes are very welcome in the summer months. Essaouira is a charming place for a relaxing break after a hot desert trip, trekking in the Atlas or sightseeing and shopping in Marrakech.

If you're an active person and want more than the typical "package" holiday, Essaouira is the perfect place for you. It'll dazzle you with innumerable sports and adventure activities. You can choose from a wide variety of watersports; anything from surfing to scuba diving. Essaouira is also a well known wind and kitesurfing location. This beautiful enclave is a mecca for wind and watersports lovers. Furthermore Essaouira is also a paradise for art enthusiasts.

Things to See & Do

In the centre of Essaouira there are two main streets; one through the Medina with shops (more permanent market stalls) all along leading to the Bab Marrakesh. Another smaller one, which has a mixture of shops, restaurants and art galleries, is for pedestrians only and leads from the square via the Maison du Sud.

The main square is a large open space surrounded on each side respectively by the harbour, town wall, sea wall and has one street leading into town with many restaurants. However, many of the newer restaurants are either near the sea wall and ramparts or along in the port; there is even a popular one right at the end of the harbour (Chez Sam) which has excellent Calamari. Although, it is difficult to go wrong in Essaouira with fresh fish, there are many stalls in the harbour displaying the day's catch and an assistant who will gladly barbeque anything you require - seating is communal, just like the stalls in Marrakech's Djemma el Fna.

Along the sea front south from the port is a very long promenade and a huge beach, where there is windsurfing, kitesurfing and horse riding on the beach, and sometimes camel rides. When the beach eventually fades to a narrower strip it continues in front of a long stretch of dunes, accessible in places from the Agadir road. In the other direction the road climbs inland towards a panoramic viewpoint of the town and coast before heading down on its long way to Marrakech.

   

Île de Mogador
Just off the coast to the southwest is the Île de Mogador, which is uninhabited but contain fortifications, a mosque and a disused prison. It is actually two islands and several tiny islets - also known as the famed Îles Purpuraires (Purple Isles) of antiquity. These islands derive their name from the precious purple dye secreted by murex, a type of mollusc that thrives in the surrounding seas. From April to October the island is a breeding ground for the Eleanora's falcons, who come all the way from Madagascar. The falcons can also be easily seen through binoculars from Essaouira beach.

There is no scheduled ferry to the islands - which is probably a good thing as the falcons are close to extinction, but it is possible to arrange a private boat trip to the islands outside the breeding season. You need to obtain a permit (free) from the port office; with that in hand, head for the small fishing boats to negotiate the trip out there. If you want to stay a few hours, fix a time for the boat to come and pick you up.

   

Skala de Ville
Skala de Ville is the high defensive wall built into the cliff sides. Along its walls, an impressive array of 18th and 19th century brass cannons point out to the Atlantic. These cannons are European, mainly from Spain (Seville) and Portugal. Also a popular place to view the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean as well as fantastic picturesque views over the fishing port and the Île de Mogador. Hours are 8:30am-12:00pm & 2:30pm-6:00pm, but the best times to visit are between 3-5pm everyday, except Sunday, when the fish auction is on. The entrance fee is 10 Dirham.

   

Bordj El Berod (Known as the Ruin on the Beach)
The Bordj el Berod is a ruined castle about two kilometres to the south from the city. Jimi Hendrix was inspired by the castle to write the song "Castles in the Sand" - and it is melting into the sea. Definitely worth the walk or buy a camel ride from one of locals.

   

Medina
The Medina was declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 2001, along with the Kasbah and the Mellah (Jewish district). The famous film director, Orson Welles, has a seat dedicated to him in this very medina. He made the Shakespeare classic "Othello" here in Essaouira.

Essaouira Port
Located at the southwest of the medina, Essaouira port is one of the cities key points. It's a brilliant mixture of frenetic colours and traditional culture. The port is frequented by many species of bird (gulls, crossbeams, etc). They hover around relentlessly, trying to steal food from the fisherman. The port is predominantly blue in colour; typically Essaouiran and the same hue as very popular Sardine fish. The colour gives the whole area a very relaxed feel. It acts as a perfect background colour and contrasts nicely with the small multicoloured boats.

Moulay Bouzerktoune
A perfect spot for surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers. The waves there are very strong and can be of high altitude.

Places to Visit Near Essaouira

Diabat (5km)
Here you'll find ruins dating back to the 18th century. They were discovered by the first group of hippies that arrived in Morocco.

Bellevedere de Chicht (26km)
This place is well worth a visit; it has some spectacular views to Essaouira.

La Carretera a Agadir (173km)
The Highway to Agadir (to 173km) is surrounded by precious landscapes, with beautiful forests and panoramic views.

El Morabito de Sidi Kaouki (27km)
This town is famous for its beautiful landscape and spectacular moussem (the celebration of engagements), which is celebrated here every year in August. El Morabito is bordered by a long and very pretty beach.

Sidi Kaouki
This small coastal locality is about 27 km from Essaouira city. Most wind and wave surf fans will have heard of Sidi Kaouki. It's one of the most famous surf spots in this area. The waves here can be very strong and are more suited to experienced surfers. The beach here is long, fine and sandy, and it extends all the way to the border. It's fully equipped with camping sites, bars and restaurants - where you can sample the local dish, tajine. This is a great place to chill out, relax and pass the time.

Cap Blanc
Lighthouse on a cliff. It runs along the coast just kilometres from the mining port called "Jorf Lasfar".

Sidi Moussa
Once in a while, if the tides are very high, a beautiful lagoon forms here. This is a virgin territory and refuge to a wide variety of birds and cultures.

Oualidia
Oualidia is a coastal holiday town that has recently become very popular with Moroccan holiday makers. Famous for its gastronomy; we recommend all types of cuisine, especially the seafood (oysters). In the old part of the city you can walk around and visit the old city walls.

Not to be Missed

Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival
The Gnaoua World Music Festival is a Gnawa music festival held annually in June in Essaouira (26th to 29th in 2008). Featuring a great line-up of musicians and artists from all over the world, this popular festival is great mix of traditional Moroccan music and sounds from the world music scene. Overall there are nine stages of headline acts, plus two large outdoor stages that are free to the public. There are also acoustic tents and small outdoor stages that prove to be highly intimate and popular. The World Music Festival brings Essaouira to life and now attracts around 450,000 people to its array of free and ticketed events.

Argan Trees
On the road between Essaouira and Agadir look out for the goats climbing in the trees. In this part of Morocco grows the argan tree (Argania spinosa). This tree is unique to Morocco and produces a fruit like an olive, which is pressed for oil. The goats like the argan too and it is not unusual to see the goats climbing in the branches to eat the leaves.

   

Enquiries & Booking

To enquire about or to book a personalised private tour to include Essaouira, please call us on +44(0)7713 615829 or send an email to enquiries@erlebnis-tours-maroc.com to discuss your itinerary and prices.
 

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