First Impressions of Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira is a beach town on the coast of Morocco, around 2 hours drive from Marrakech. I spent 3 days there as an add on to my Busabout 8 day tour of Marrakech & the Sahara. It’s a really cool little town, and is actually somewhere I am considering as a base in the near future for when I need to sit still for a bit and get down to work. These were my first impressions of Essaouira;

Beautiful beach and sunshine weather

The main beach in Essaouira is the best thing about the town for me. There’s crystal clear water, clear soft sand, and best of all they keep the beach here really clean as there is competition in Morocco for the cleanest beach that Essaouira wants to win! In the part opposite the hotels it is a little bit busy, but nothing compared to European beaches I have been on. Also, it’s mostly just locals playing football on pitches drawn out of sand – which can be fun to watch or take part in anyway! If you walk about 10 minutes down the coastline however, and past the guys trying to sell you horse and camel rides, there is next to no-one there. You almost have the beach to yourself.

Less hassle than Marrakech…

People in Essaouira tend to leave you alone to get on with whatever you’re doing. Having come straight from Marrakech this was a welcome relief! For that reason Essaouira could be great for those trying to escape the extra hustle and bustle that seems to be associated with being a foreigner in Marrakech. That said, you will still get the odd stares and people coming up to you to buy stuff. However, this is remarkably less so than the big cities in Morocco. If you want the quiet life, Essaouira is it… for someone accusomted to cities anyway!

Fresh “out the water” seafood

Essaouira is a coastal city, and so inevitably there is a lot of sea food on offer. However, if you walk along past the cafes on the beach front next to the entrance to the town centre you will find many places where you can pick stuff almost out of the sea! I saw waaaay too many things moving! Personally, I’m not a huge sea food fan. I love certain types of sea food (sushi being a favourite), however anything with a head on it and I just can’t bring myself to eat it. I’m therefore probably not the best person to recommend a sea food restaurant or cafe, but the others I was eating dinner, and who loved sea food where all raving about the little sea food cafes in Essaouira. If you love your sea food then you’ll love this place!

Budget friendly

If you thought Marrakech was cheap for food & drink, then Essaouira is even cheaper! An expensive restaurant here was like 50 Dirham for 2 courses (around 4 – 5 Euros!) However, we were eating out in many cheaper places for around 25 Dirham drink + meal (around 2 Euros).

It would be shame to come to Morocco and only visit the capital! Considering this place is only a few hours away by bus, I really think it’s a must see for people coming to Morocco. If I had only visited Marrakech I wouldn’t liked Morocco, but I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the country the way I have done. Essaouira was a part of that reason.


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