The soaring and screaming of the seagulls accompany the melody of the sea. Inside the medina, white are the walls and majorelle blue are the old windows and wooden doors we see. The air is fresh, the pace is slow, the colours are soft and the people are hassle-free.
Essaouira is a small fishing town located in the western coast of Morocco. It is inhabited by Arabs, Berbers and Gwanas, giving a rich cultural mix to the town. The bay is partially shielded by the island of Mogador protecting the peaceful harbour against strong winds coming from the sea. The medina, wrapped around with white ramparts, is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city making the town a must to add to your itinerary.
Shopping the tranquil alleys of the medina is a great option for souvenir hunting. The non-agressive vendors make it for a nice and peaceful stroll, giving you the proper time to shop stress-free. Follow the aroma of spices floating in the damp sea air. Search for argan oil, natural medicine, Thuya crafts or maroquinerie while shopping in a mellow atmosphere. The prices are already low, but there is always room for bargaining.
There are several restaurants offering Moroccan cuisine, although a lot are also serving European meals, such as pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and fries. Most riad will include Moroccan breakfast with the stay. Most will also offer a homemade dinner, at a fairly good price. Eating at the riad is a very attractive option. While dining in the comfort of your hotel, you will taste authentic dishes made out of fresh local ingredients (purchased on the same day). If they don’t sell alcohol, they will most likely let you bring a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner. It is a cheap, convenient and delicious option!
Feline strollers seem better nourished and healthier than other Moroccan cities. Volunteers come twice a year to fix the females. Restaurants also spoil the furry companions with left-over foods and fresh water.
People don’t come to Essaouira for a sun vacation. Even though it is shinning here most days of the year, the town holds strong marine winds that could make some visitors unpleased and bothered. With an approximate 25km/h wind everyday, the town is known as the character wind city of Africa and has grown in becoming one of the best place to come windsurfing. Hundreds are seen defeating the wind, jumping the waves, and racing the gulls. I won’t suggest having a picnic on the beach with that kind of air current, unless you like crunchy bits in your sandwich. However, a few restaurants offer a good break from the wind, offering comfort food and refreshings.
At the end of the beach, camels and horses are found, ready to provide you with a scenic ride along sand dunes while admiring the sun setting over the ocean. If the idea doesn’t attract you that much, the images of these gorgeous animals strolling in front of the sunset make up for great pictures.
Essaouira is a purely tranquil holiday. Stroll the hassle-free medina, eat the catch of the day on the quay, have a mint tea on one of the terrace watching people go by, take culinary lessons with the cook at your riad, take a walk on the beach, admire stunning sunsets while sitting on a camel back. This little fishing town is a perfect retreat by the sea (and a natural exfoliant).