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.
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
trekking in the
Atlas or sightseeing and
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
scuba diving. Essaouira is also a well known wind and
location. This beautiful enclave is a mecca for wind and watersports
lovers. Furthermore Essaouira is also a paradise for
Things to See &
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.
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.
sea front south from the port is a very long promenade and a huge
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.
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.
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
A perfect spot for surfers,
kitesurfers and windsurfers. The waves there
are very strong and can be of high altitude.
Visit Near Essaouira
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
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
(the celebration of engagements), which is celebrated here every year in
August. El Morabito is bordered by a long and very pretty beach.
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
Lighthouse on a cliff. It runs along the coast just kilometres from the mining port called "Jorf Lasfar".
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
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
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.
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
to discuss your itinerary and prices.
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