Coastal Essaouira…this could very well be one of my favourite places when my family lived in Morocco.
The ‘artsy’ town of Essaouira has enough natural beauty and Eastern world mystery to make it a tourist attraction, and at the same time is brimming to overflowing with gritty, real, everyday Moroccan seaside life to give travelers an authentic not-so-sterilized taste of what living in this country is really about.
Essaouira’s beach is breathtaking – the fine golden sand seems to go on forever til it touches the Atlantic surf that makes this one of the windsurfing capitals of Africa. The mysterious islands just off the shore make a perfect backdrop to a sunset camel ride while that delightful dusky colouring sets the Old Medina’s fortress-like walls all aglow. Just as you begin to think you’ve landed in paradise the serenity is sliced open by three different camel owners vying for your evening’s business and you slice your toe open on an old tin can! Yup, this is still Africa! Where beauty and chaos, grace and garbage weave themselves together into something that a person just can’t seem to get enough of. And so the exploration continues…
Winding through the narrow Medina streets one can see many of the same wares as exist throughout the country… pottery, leather, spices and other ‘common’ Moroccan items are joined by some truly unique crafts, art pieces and, of course, the fish market. Sea creatures of every shape, size and species are put on display and sold at the day’s prices. A canvas splashed with living colour, both adults and children can delight in exploring the ocean’s bounty. When the fishy odour became too much for our kids they enjoyed watching the ever-present felines munch up strange-looking seafood scraps.
For the humans who are hungry, there is an area right off of the harbour where you can sit at one of the many stalls where vendors stand in serious competition to lure you in and grill you up some of the freshest seafood around. My kids loved that most of the display table was literally still moving as we arrived!
And thanks to a wrinkled old gentleman sitting on his pushcart, we found what was to me the best part of Essaouira. La Skala is the 300-plus-year-old fort that with canons still in place, keeps watch over some of the most dramatic coastline Morocco has to offer. The harbour too can be seen from this vantage point, brimming with colourfully painted boats, nets and bouys, one can choose to call that a wrap or go down and get a closer view of the fishermen at work. As with most of the country, these are up close and highly personal experiences with no safety railings to ensure your toddler doesn’t toddle off into the sea and no earplugs or remote control to ‘change the channel’ when the seafarers begin to brawl and cuss! Majesty and madness…this is real Morocco!
Experience Coastal Essaouira
There are lots of things to do in Essaouira and you can even spend the night in one of the luxury boutique hotels in Essaouira. One of the best way to experience Morocco’s coastal gem of Essaouira is on a private Morocco tour with your own private vehicle and English-speaking tour guide. To get started, you can browse through our popular Morocco tours or contact one of our Morocco Travel Experts and he/she will get back to you within 24 hours.