Hello and welcome to my final post from my trip to Morocco! This one is all about the seaside town of Essaouira, a 2.5 hour bus journey from Marrakech.
A few other tourists and travellers we met around the country were unsure of whether to visit Essaouira as it seems to be a bit of a ‘marmite’ place: you either love it or hate it. For me, I loved it! I loved the chilled out vibes and friendliness of the people – not as harrassing as they were in Fes or Marrakech – and the food was without a doubt the best I sampled from my three weeks in the country.
The hostel we stayed at was a traditional riad and not only served a lovely breakfast of pancakes and honey, but also had a rooftop terrace where guests could relax and enjoy the views. If I ever go again, I would also save it until the last few days as a relaxing treat before heading home; we did the opposite and went for our first two days and while it was a nice, not-too-overwhelming experience to help us get used to the Moroccan way of life, it would have been much more welcome after our action-packed tour with Intrepid.
What is there to do?
There isn’t a ton of things to do in Essaouira. We spent two nights there and in that time we covered pretty much everything there is to do. Although it is a beach town, we didn’t feel comfortable stripping down to our swimwear and sunbathing as it was mostly locals who crowded the beach. If we had stayed in one of the bigger hotels, many of which had their own private section of beach with more tourists, then we probably would have been more comfortable and enjoyed it. The only thing we didn’t do during our stay in Essaouira was try out any watersports, but this was largely due to our lack of confidence being on the beach. Perhaps if we had visited later in our trip, we would have gotten used to Moroccan customs and been braver and tried some surfing lessons!
There are loads of winding little streets and alleyways filled with the tempting smells of spices and sweet aromas, so walking around for hours is the best way to explore the town. Essaouira itself is a promontory which sticks out into the sea, and a 30 minute walk will take you all around the city walls. Take in the gorgeous ocean views from the highest point on the city wall, and follow it down to the fishing port – you’ll smell it long before you see it.
In the evenings we enjoyed delicious meals at Restaurant La Tolerance (for less than £10 for two people!) followed by gallons of ‘Berber whisky’, AKA minty tea, in the town square while listening to live music.