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Last updated:

18 December 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to do in Essaouira ...

 

ARCHITECTURE

One of the most enjoyable ways of spending time in Essaouira is to wander round its historic medina (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) enjoying the photogenic architecture and soaking up the atmosphere. Its small size and logical grid of main roads mean that you can't get seriously lost and, as motorised traffic is not allowed inside the walls, it is safe and peaceful to walk around:

 

The ramparts: The medina is enclosed by terracotta-coloured ramparts which are entered by four imposing gateways - Bab Doukala, Bab Marrakech, Bab S'baa and Bab El Menzah. The sandy pink of the walls makes and attractive contrast to the town's blue and white buildings. The best place for a photograph of the walls is near Bab El Menzah or the collection of gardens to the south of the medina.

 

The main streets: The gateways lead to a network of straight, relatively wide, pedestrian streets from which you can get your bearings.  The widest of these, which is decorated with several imposing carved archways, bisects the town from Bab Doukala - where it is lined with traditional local shops - down to Bab El Menzah where you will find most of the town's more imposing buildings. 

 

The souks: About a third of the way along this street from Bab Doukala are the souks (markets). The cloistered fish and vegetable souks retain their original function selling wonderfully fresh local produce. By complete contrast, the blue and white tiled jewellery souk is a cool and peaceful place with glass-fronted shops selling fine silver jewellery. The former grain souk/slave market, Place Marché Aux Grains, is now a peaceful little square lined with pleasant outdoor cafés and interesting little shops.

 

The back streets: Beyond the main streets is a labrynth of narrow lanes and mysterious covered alleyways whose authentically shabby buildings are full of surprises. Behind elaborate doorways you may catch glimpses of all sorts of intriguing interiors - dilapidated churches and synagogues, artisans workshops, stylish hotels, quirky galleries - all existing happily alongside traditional family homes and businesses.

 

Skala de la Ville: At the westernmost part of the ramparts you can climb up to Skala de la Ville - a 200m long combined artillery platform (complete with decorated cannons) and defence against the Atlantic breakers. The views are spectacular, especially at sunset when the walls are often bathed in a pinkish light.

 

Piazzas: The hub of Essaouira is the tree-lined Place Moulay Hassan which is situated between the medina and  the harbour. Its many outdoor cafés are a great place to sit and watch the world go by. At the top of Place Moulay Hassan, if you head to the right through the carpet-lined alley you will come to shady Place Chefchaouni which is overlooked by l'Horloge - a recently-renovated clock tower. Other cafe-lined squares are Place Chrib Attai (often referred to as El Khaima (The Tent) on account of the large Moroccan restaurant tent),  Place Marché Aux Grains and Place Taraa.

 

The harbour: Essaouira's little harbour is home to Morocco’s third largest fishing fleet. It is very photogenic and fascinating at any time of day but especially when the catch is landed and sold.  From the medina you enter the harbour via the imposing Porte de la Marine, which dates from 1769. To its right is the Skala de la Port, an old Portuguese sea defence from where you can get a get a good view of the port and the medina (there is a small entrance fee) and take a cheesy photo of the medina through its porthole. On the southern side of the harbour you can learn how boats are crafted using centuries-old techniques – there is usually someone who will show you in return for a tip.

 

Outside the media: Just outside Bab Doukala, to the left and past the run-down Place des Artistes, you will see a door marked 'Pax,. This is the entrance to the pretty little Consul's Cemetary, still in use for Christian burials. You can visit when the gate is open - free, but the caretaker will appreciate a tip. Further north, to the right, is the Jewish cemetary, but this isn't usually open. Beyond this is the town's interesting but unattractive industrial area where you may spot tanneries, olive processing factories etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART

There are many artists in Essaouira and you will find artwork for sale all over the medina, plus occasional street art. There are several distinctive local styles and the town is particularly is famous for its colourful naïve school of painting and sculpture which combines influences from local gnawa traditions and the psychedelic paintings of the town's hippy era. Its champion is Danish expat Frédéric Damgaard (now retired), whose gallery is the best place to see good examples.  Some of the better artists and galleries are:

 

Alliance Franco Marocain Essaouira Cultural hub of the French community living in Essaouira. Often has themed exhibitions and music. Look for posters on the door outside. Open to the public 10:00 - 12:30 and 14:30 - 18:30

Address: 9 rue Mohammed Diouri (off Derb Laâlouj) Tel : 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 61 97
Email: afmessaouira@gmail.com Website: www.ambafrance-ma.org/afme

 

L’Arbre Bleu Little French-run gallery and café exhibiting a good range of European and local arts and crafts.

Address: 233 Rue Chbanat Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 78 57 39 42 Website: www.moniquefaviere.com

 

Atelier Bastion Sud Ouest Attractive gallery in the historical South west bastion of the medina. An added attraction is the view from the roof terrace.

Address: Rue de la Skala

 

Dar Souiri This elegant riad (home of the Association Essaouira Mogador) often has themed exhibitions and music. Look for posters on the wall outside.

Address: 10 Rue Caire (On the right, just after entering Bab S'baa) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 52 68

 

Espace Othello High quality modern and traditional paintings and sculpture by local and West African artists

Address: 9 Rue Mohammed Layachi Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 50 95

 

Galerie Bab S'baa Little gallery next to Bab S'baa archway. Has mixed exhibitions of good original artwork

Address:  Bab S'baa, Rue du Caire

 

Galerie Bleu Mogador Has a large selection of works of art by Moroccan artists for sale.

Address: 20 Avenue Mohamed ben Abdellah

 

Galerie Bouafia Lively scenes of Essaouira painted mostly by knife by Marrakech born artist Mohammed Bouafia.

Address: 48 Rue de la Skala Tel: 0 (212) 6 61 70 98 60 / 0 (0 212) 6 33 78 28 96

 

Galerie Damgaard Famous gallery with top quality paintings and sculpture in the local naïve style

Address: Ave. Oqba Ibn Nafiaa Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 44 46 Website: www.galeriedamgaard.com

 

Galerie du Poisson Rouge Part of Sushithe restuarant which sells arts and crafts, including large colourful canvases by Didier Spindler. whose work can also be seen at other restaurants and hotels, including Dar Adul, Caravane Café and Palazzo Desdemona.

Address: 3 Rue Yemen Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 31 69 / 0 (0 212) 6 78 96 47 21

 

Place Moulay Hassan The giftshop opposite Café de France sells reasonably-priced artwork and will organise commissions. Disabled mouth painter Mustapha is usually in the square selling his naïve-style postcard-sized paintings for 20 DH each. There are occasional exhibitions in the Palais de Justice (next to Café de France)

 

Taros Gallery Has a small selection of paintings by popular local artists

Address: 2 Rue Skala (just off Place Moulay Hassan) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 64 07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUCTIONS

Place Joutiya (next to Place Marché aux Grains) comes to life every day between 4 and 5 pm when locals auction anything from teapots to trousers. The Time Out Guide describes it as being 'like a demented Moroccan version of the Generation Game'! 

 

BEACHES

The main beach curves about 2 miles to the south of the town towards the former hippy village of Diabat (now being turned into a luxury golfing resort). Along its length you will find cafés, football games (including league matches at weekends), sunloungers, watersports and, near the sand dunes, cafés and horses and camels for hire.  At low tide you can cross the Ksob river estuary (Oued Ksob) to the romantic fort of Borj El Barod which is crumbling into the sea. Local legend has it that this inspired Jimi Hendrix to write ‘Castles made of Sand’ - though this is unlikely as the song was recorded two years before Jimi visited Morocco!

 

Safi beach, which is to the north of the town, is less crowded and considered to be better for surfing than the main beach. It is about a half hour walk through an unattractive industrial part of the new town, or you can take a caleche (horse drawn carriage) from just outside Bab Doukala.

 

 

BIKE HIRE/MOUNTAINBIKING

You can hire cycles (about 100 DH per day) or scooters (about 250 DH per day) from a number of places, including those listed below. Bled a Velo also do organised mountainbiking trips.  

Bled a Velo  Organised mountainbiking trips

Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 61 89 79 87 (Martin Rousson) Website: www.bledavelo.net

 

Moga2Roues Bike and scooter hire: Whole day: Bike: 100 DH, Scooter 250 DH

Address: Jardins bin al Aswars (next to La Tête dans les Etoiles) Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 70 57 13 47 Email: moga2roues@live.fr

 

 

 

   

BIRDWATCHING

The easiest place to see birds is at the south end of the beach, around the the mouth of the Ksob river estuary. The Isles de Mogador, which are just opposite the Essaouira’s main beach, are one of the world's largest (and Morocco's only) breeding sites for the endangered Eleonora's falcon which resides here from late April to the end of October. You can take a boat round the islands (see below) but are not allowed to land.

 

BOAT TRIPS

The Isles de Mogador are now a protected breeding site for the endangered Eleonora's falcon (see above). They were originally known as the 'Isles Purpuraires' as they were famed as the source of the murex mollusc which was used to make purple dye for Roman robes. You are not allowed to land but boat trips around the island offer good views of birds, attractive rock formations and the the ruins of fortifications, a mosque and a prison.

Essaouira Sailing Tour Port d'Essaouira Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 61 62 63 13

2 hour sailing trips round the islands: about 250 DH per person. Sunset trips (90 minutes): about 300 DH. Also does group trips. 

 

COOKERY COURSES

Next to La Table de Madada restaurant, a former almond warehouse is now a stylishly decorated room offering daily cookery courses.  Courses for up to 8 people take place daily, except Sunday. The morning workshops include lunch in the comfortable lounge. Private classes can also be arranged. All courses are supervised by an experienced chef and a bilingual French-English presenter.

Atelier Madada 5 bis Rue Youssef El Fassi Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 55 12 Website: www.lateliermadada.com

Moroccan cooking workshop (10:30 - 14:30) 450 DH (lunch included); Pastry workshop (15:00 - 17:00) 200 DH (Mon - Sat)

EXCURSIONS

If you have a bike, car or want to hire a taxi, suggestions for day trips include: south to Sidi Kaouki (popular with surfers and with some laid back beach cafés), North to Moulay Bouzerktoun, which is also a popular surf spot with a cliff-top restaurant, or the waterfalls at Sidi M'Barek. On Sundays (except when there is a public or religious holiday) there is a traditional market at H'raa. Organised excursions are also available (look for signs around town).  

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

Essaouira is best known for its Gnawa (Gnaoua) world music festival but there are many other festivals and events throughout the year. However, they are not widely publicised and dates vary from year to year (and sometimes change at the last minute!) so it can be difficult to find out when and where events are happening. Check websites for dates.

 

Aïcha des Gazelles Rally (Last week in March) This unique all-female motor rally has taken place in Morocco each year since 1990.  For 10 days, about 100 teams from all over the world compete to reach a network of checkpoints in the shortest possible distance without GPS, mobiles phones or any other electronic guidance. Whatever the route, the event always ends with a festive parade along Essaouira beach sometimes followed by an exciting 'fantasia' (display of Moroccan horsemanship).

Website: www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com

 

Andalousies Atlantiques Festival (Autumn) Every autumn since 2003 Essaouira has celebrated the Andalucian contibution to the music and culture of Spain, North Africa and Latin America.

 

Festival d'Etrange (Winter) The 'Festival of the Strange', which takes place in L'Alliance Franco-Marocaine, celebrates the eccentric, strange, whimsical and eccentric in all aspects of the arts.

 

Gnaoua Music Festival (June) By far the largest and best-known event in Essaouira in which many thousands of people converge on the town to hear top class Moroccan and World music. There are several large stages around the town and most events are free. Recent stars have included Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate and Justin Adams.

Website: www.festival-gnaoua.net

 

Jeunes Talents Gnaoua (August) The junior gnaoua festival gives young Moroccan musicians and local bands a chance to show off their talent.

 

Maroc Classic  (Mid March) Rally for classic or prestige cars which sometimes passes through Essaouira.

 

Printemps Musical des Alizés (End of April) A festival of classical music featuring artists from all over the world. Takes place at  a range of venues around the town.

Website: www.alizesfestival.com

 

Regraga pilgrimage (April) Each spring, the brotherhood of the Regraga (Regragui), descendents of those who introduced Islam to the region, make a 38-day pilgrimage around local shrines. Their visit to Essaouira usually begins on the first Thursday in April with a procession from Bab Doukala to the central mosque. This is led by 'Laaroussa'  (the fiancée or bride) - a man dressed in white riding a white mare - and accompanied by gnawa music. For the next two days there are traditional celebrations, a market with a quirky funfair to the north of the medina  and, on the Friday, a lively procession round the town's shrines.

 

Souffle Magique  (March) International festival of magic

 

Transmarocaine (Mid March) A multisport event which sometimes passes through Essaouira. Two rival teams compete in a range of events such as mountain biking, running, kayaking and canoeing.

Website: www.transmarocaine.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOLF

An 36 hole Gary Player-designed golf course is being developed at Diabet, on the Atlantic coast about four miles to the south of Essaouira. The first 18 holes opened in May 2009. It is next to Sofitel Mogador Golf and Spa which you can reach easily via a free shuttle bus. The bus (Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 94 00) leaves every half hour from outside the Chalet de la Plage restaurant: 10:30 - 20:30 (10:00 20:30 return)

 

Golf de Mogador Green fee: 750 DH per day, Hire of clubs: 250 DH,  Buggy: 350 DH, Caddy: 120 DH

Tel: 0 ( 212) 5 24 47 92 30 Website: www.golfdemogador.com

 

 

 

HAMMAMS, SPAS AND MASSAGES

There are plenty of hammams (steam baths) in the medina. The more traditional ones have set times of the day reserved for either men or women, whereas the ones in hotels can be booked as a couple. The dress code for both men and women is pants only (dark colours recommended!). You will need to take some dry underwear to change into and, in the more traditional ones, a towel, some savon noir (black soap) and scrubbing mitt.  Water to drink and moisturiser for afterwards are also a good idea.

 

Azur Art and Spa Luxurious hammam, spa and art gallery down a little alleyway just of Place Moulay Hassan

Address:  15 Rue Khalid Ben Walid Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 57 94 Website: www.azur-essaouira.com 

 

Hammam Mounia A good mid-range hammam offering a range of treatments. Women 15:00 – 20:30, Men 17:30 – 20:30.

Address: Rue d’Oum Rabbia/Mellah Kadim (off Rue Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 26 33 49 83 / 0 (0 212) 6 67 23 65 05

 

Hammam Pabst Traditional hammam made famous by Orson Welles who used it regularly between 1949 and 1952 when he was filming Othello in the town. Hammam only: 10 DH, Gommage (scrub) and massage: 100/150 DH.

Address: Rue Enasr (near Mogador Zen and Miyame Restaurant)

 

Lalla Mira The oldest hammam in town . Women 09:30 – 19:00, Men (must pre-book) 19:00 – 22:00.

Address: 14 Rue d’Algerie (off Avenue El Qouiri) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 50 46  

 

L’Heure Bleu Palais Hammam /spa in the medina's most upmarket hotel

Address: 2 Rue Ibn Batouta (next to Bab Marrakech) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 34 34 Website: www.heure-bleue.com

 

Hotel Atlas Essaouira & Spa Luxurious hammam and spa offering a wide range of treatments. Sample prices: 30 minute hammam, 150 DH,  60 min massage 800 DH

Address: Boulevard Mohammed V Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 99 99 Website: www.hotelsatlas.com

 

Les Massages Bérbères Traditional argan oil massage.

Address: 135 Ave Mohammed El Quorry (near l’Heure Bleu Palais) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 31 30 Mobile: 0 (0 212) 6 61  08 23 16

 

Mogador Zen Shiatsu and other massages

Address: 42 Rue Enasr (next to Hammam Pabst and Miyame Restaurant)  Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 63 60 28 57

 

Mumtaz Mahal A beautifully decorated hammam in a luxurious riad.

Address: 6 Youssef al Fassi (next to Après Cinq restaurant) Tel: 0 (0 212)  5 24 78 53 00 Website: www.riadmumtazmahal.com

 

l'Osmose Spa at Villa de l'O Hotel Luxurious hotel hammam and spa

Address: 3 Rue Mohammed ben Messaoud Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 63 75 Website: www.villadelo.com

 

Riad Al Madina Full Moroccan hammam treatment

Address: 9 Rue Attarine Tel: 0 (0 212)  5 24 47 59 07

 

Villa Maroc Hammam in Morocco’s original riad hotel

Address: 10 Rue Abdellah Ben Yassin Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 61 47 or 0 (212 0) 5 24 47 61 47 Website: www.villa-maroc.com 

 

 

MARQUETRY

Essaouira is famous for its marquetry using local thuya wood. The best place to see craftsmen at work is under the ramparts at Rue de la Skala. You can buy pieces all over town, but the largest outlet is:

Afalkay Art 9 Place Moulay Hassan Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 60 89

 

MUSEUM

The museum is in a renovated 19th century mansion which was used as the town hall during the French protectorate. The collection includes weapons, woodwork, carpets and  local musical instruments.

Musée Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdullah Rue Derb Laâlouj Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 53 00

 

MUSIC AND NIGHTLIFE

Essaouira is a very musical place and a number of bars and restaurants have live music on at least one night per week. The most popular styles are the local Gnawa music, Arab-Andalusian, reggae and Moroccan/western fusion. Some of this can be very good indeed, though it isn't always that easy to find out who is on where or when. For suggestions see restaurants. The ones which have late night music also tend to double as nightclubs.

 

The town is full of shops which sell CDs (just follow your ears!) - they are very cheap but not particularly good quality. There are also several shops selling traditional musical instruments. Some of these also offer lessons.

 

 

 

NEWSPAPERS, MAPS AND POSTCARDS

There are several shops in and around Place Moulay Hassan which sell maps of the town, guidebooks and postcards.  Some of them also sell day-old European newspapers.

 

 

QUAD BIKES

There are usually quad bikes for hire near Ocean Vagabond beach café but for  proper training and safety equipment and longer, more organised, trips plus we recommend booking in advance with a reputable company. One hour will include training and relatively flat terrain; two hours or more will include more sand dunes.

 

Essa Evasion Ghazoua Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 18 66 13 13 / 0 (0 212) 6 18 13 22 78 Website: www.essa-evasion.com

 

Palma Quad 1 Hour (including training and safety equipment): 300 Dh, 2hours: 450 DH (1 seater), 700 DH (2 seater)

70 Boulevard Mohammed V Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 66 70 99 99 Website: www.palmaquad.com

 

 

 

 

 

RIDING

You will find horses and camels for hire near Ocean Vagabond beach café. The horses are well cared for Berber stallions and the owners will try to match you with one to suit your ability. Expect to pay about 80 DH per hour for a camel and 150 DH per hour for a horse. If you would prefer something more organised, longer treks, or are a beginner or nervous rider, the following are recommended:

 

Equi Evasion  Diabat  Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 66 78 05 61 Website: www.equievasion.com

 

Ranch de Diabat Diabat Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 62 29 72 03 / 0 (0 212) 6 70 57 68 41 Website: www.ranchdediabat.com

 

Zouina Cheval Diabat Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 69 80 71 01 (Najib) / 0 (0 33) 682 652 742 (Sophie) Website: www.zouina-cheval.com

 

 

 

SHOPPING

Essaouira is absolutely packed with characterful little shops selling pretty much everything that you can get in Marrakech (leatherwork, metalwork, lampshades, pottery, jewellery, fabrics, carpets), but at a much more laid back pace. There are also a few local specialities such as argan oil products and exquisite marquetry articles made of thuya wood. You won’t normally be hassled, although you will be expected to bargain unless you are in a shop with marked prices. Unlike Marrakech there aren't any main areas dedicated to a particular product - the whole medina is like a huge colourful craft market. The best way to find what you want is to just wander around - there are surprising discoveries to be made in unlikely areas or behind narrow unassuming doorways. If you can't see exactly what you want and have a few days to spare, ask if the shop will accept commissions. The shops listed below are just a very small selection, chosen for price, quality or because they sell things which are slightly out of the ordinary:

 

Baba GI Shop Beautiful clothes, gifts and homewear from all over the world.

Address: 179 Rue Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah Tel:0 (0 212) 6 65 81 50 34

 

Duraz Blanc Original design fabrics made on a traditional loom on the premises

Address: 31 Rue Chbanat Tel:0 (0 212) 6 63 15 06 48 / 0 (0 212) 6 60 85 55 00.

 

Chez Aïcha Poterie Bérbére A cut above the average selection of pottery, homewares and argan oil products

Address: Place Marché aux Grains Tel:0 (0 212) 5 24 47 43 35

 

Chez Aziz Palm-rope and wood furniture, terracotta lampshades etc

Address Km8 Route d’Agadir (8 km to the south of: Essaouira on the Agadir road) Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 66 01 46 07.

 

Chez Makki A good selection of marked-price pottery on two floors, plus spices and argan oil

Address: No 221 Souk Laghzal (the fish and spice souk) and 218 Marché aux Grains

Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 30 90 Email: chezmakki@gmail.com

 

Ensemble Artisanale Rather sleepy collection of craft workshops and galleries

Address:  Bab Marrakech (opposite L’Heure Bleu Palais)

 

Espace Afoulki Lampshades in original designs, including commissions.

Address: 33 Rue d’Agadir (along the lane from Elizir restaurant) Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 66 16 65 17

 

Explora Morocco Surf and beach wear

Address :2 Place Chrib Attai (off Derb Laalouj)

 

Galerie Aïda Bric a brac, Berber jewellery and a range of items from all over Morocco, plus new and secondhand books.

Address: 2 Rue de la Skala Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 62 90

 

Galerie La Kasbah Characterful old riad packed with architectural salvage, antiques, rugs, pottery

Address: 4 Rue Tetouan Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 56 05/0 (0 212) 6 61 20 71 45

 

Gipsy Surfer Surf and beach wear

Address: 14 Rue de Tetouan Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 32 68

 

the Jewellery souk High quality silver jewellery

On the junction of Avenues El Quori and L’Istiqal

 

Mashi Mushki Fun gallery and shop which donates a significant percentage of its sales to local charities. Is also the base for Leave your Wardrobe in Morocco which sells travellers' unwanted clothes or other items with 100% of the profit going to charity. Open every morning, except Monday

Address: 89/91 Rue Chbanat Tel: 0 (0 212) 4401618323209 Website: https://www.facebook.com/mashimushki

 

Mosaic Little workshop which makes and sells high quality zellige (mosaic) mirrors, tables fountains etc

Address: Rue Boutouil (opposite La Cantina)

 

Poupa Litza Recommended in The Times travel supplement for 'beautiful & super-trendy hand-made bags & accessories from French fashion designer'

Address: 135 bis av. Mohamed el Kory Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 69 28

 

Taros Gallery Art, clothes and gifts

Address: 2 Rue Skala (just off Place Moulay Hassan) Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 64 07 Website: www.taroscafe.com

 

Villa Maroc Gallery Art, clothes and gifts

Address: 10 Rue Abdellah Ben Yassin Tel:0 (0 212) 5 24 47 61 47Website: www.villa-maroc.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWIMMING

The sea is better for watersports than swimming but, if you don't mind the breakers and coolish Atlantic temperatures, you can take a dip all year round. The town doesn't have a public swimming pool but some hotels will allow non-residents to use their pool if you have a meal or pay a small fee.

 

Hotel des Isles This is the nearest pool to the medina which is open to non-residents but it is popular with seagulls so beware of contamination. 

Address: Boulevard Mohammed V (Just outside Bab Sbaa)

 

Ocean Vagabond Guest House This hotel, which is not far from the medina, has a pretty little pool which is open to non-residents provided they buy a meal.

Address: Boulevard Lalla Aïcha Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 47 92 22

 

Ryad Mogador On the southern outskirts of town (about an hour's walk from the medina)  this pool is sometimes be open to non-residents out of season

Address: Route de Marrakech

 

Sofitel Mogador Golf and Spa This beautiful heated pool at Diabat (an enjoyable walk along the beach, a short taxi ride or free shuttle - see under Golf) is surrounded by idyllic daybeds which have a lovely view over the new golf course and Atlantic Ocean.  The cost to non-residents for use of the pool is 250 DH

Address: Domaine Mogador, Diabat Website: www.sofitel.com

 

 

 

WALKING

Essaouira is a great place for walking either in the medina, along the coast or in the surrounding countryside. The best country walks are to the south of Essaouira, along the beach. At low tide you can walk (or take a camel) across the Ksob estuary (Oued Ksob) to the romantic fort of Borj el Barod which is crumbling into the sea. When the tide is high the only way to get across the estuary is to walk along it towards the bridge at Diabat - a former hippy village where you can now watch the huge new Mogador golf complex take shape. Behind Diabat you can walk through woodland towards the tower on the hill for splendid views of the town and coast. The area around North (Safi) beach is also pleasant for walking but to get there you need to walk (or take a horse-drawn caleche) through the tatty industrial area. Guided eco-friendly walks of the countryside around Essaouira including the Argan woods and the Thuya forests are also available from:

Ecotourism et Randonnées Half day: 200 DH per person, Full day: 450 DH (including a traditional meal)

Address: la Decouverte restaurant, 8 bis rue Houmman el Fatouaki

Tel:  0 (0 212) 6 10 63 83 99 (Frédérique Thevenet)

Email: ecotourisme-maroc@hotmail.fr Website: www.essaouira-randonnées.com

 

 

 

 

 

WINE TASTING

The Val D’Argan winery at Ounagha (about 35 km from Essaouira)  produces some of the best wines in Morocco. It offers tastings of wine, olive oil and argan oil, accompanied by a Moroccan lunch. Open 10:00 to 18:00.  No English-speaking guides available. Lunch and tasting of four wines about 350 DH.

Val d’Argan Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 34 67 / 0 (0 212) 6 27 90 24 (Halima Eddibi) / 0 (0 212) 6 60 73 88 86 (Ahmed Eddibi)

Email: d.valdargan@menara.ma Website: http://www.ras.ma/transitions/winery/index.html

 

WIND AND WATERSPORTS

Essaouira is famous for its world class wind and water sports including surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.  A number of places along the beach offer lessons and equipment hire, including:

 

Club Mistral Base Nautique Boulevard Mohammed V (next to Ocean Vagabond Beach cafe)

Tel: 0 (0 212) 5 24 78 39 34 Website: www.club-mistral.com

 

Essaouira KiteSurf Rue Amira Lalla Amina (opposite the beachside basketball court)

Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 72 06 37 25 / 0 (0 212) 6 11 41 29 48 Website: www.essaouirakitesurf.com

 

Explora Morocco Offers a wide range of activities (see boards outside activity centre) and fully inclusive packages.

Shop: 2 Place Chrib Attai (off Derb Laalouj) Activity centre: Boulevard Mohammed V (next to Beach and Friends)

Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 11 47 51 88 (Morocco) / 0 (0 44) 7738 563883 (UK)

Website: www.exploramorocco.com

 

Kiteadventures Website: www.kiteadventuressaouira.com

 

Tripkite Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 64 80 26 44 Website: www.tripkite.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOGA

Karryn Croney Individuals or groups (in English)

Tel: 0 (0 212) 6 72 56 95 74 Email: kamalayoga@mac.com 

 

Yoga Traveller A family-run business based in Ireland which has been organsing yoga holidays at a number of locations since since 2004. The Essaouira holidays are based at Dar L'Oussia

Website: www.yogatraveller.com