Essaouira (ⵎⵓⴳⴰⴹⵓⵔ in Berber): The wind city; artistic land of moderate temperatures, good deals on local goods, windsurfing, kite surfing or just surfing – it all happens here on a regular basis. The government is putting its energies into updating the town, making it easier to navigate, cleaner and greener. Expect some interesting updates in the next few years.
Essaouira is an extremely laid back town; however, as with any trip to a place where you have infinite photo opportunities, be sure to ask permission to photograph someone as some may take offense.
Places to avoid: Not a lot of crime to speak of, most places feel safe, even late at night. I would avoid the mellah at night; however. Use your normal common sense in a new place: Stay in pairs or groups, avoid dark alleys, especially if alone and do your wandering in daylight hours; ie, try not to wander into a strange areas at night.
What to see:
- The ramparts; filming site of Orson Well’s Othello and more recently, the dragon scene in Game of Thrones was filmed on the Skala du port. 10 Dirham for entrance (~$1.20) to walk up and around.
- The beach: Take lessons in surfing, kite surfing, or straight surfing. No love for the ocean? You can also organize camel rides, horse rides or 4 wheeling.
- Food options abound here, you can spend as much as you’re willing. For a truly unique dining experience, local designer Uthmann recently opened The Loft, a very well thought out restaurant just off of the main square. This was our best dining choice of the week; definitely worth trying. #5 Rue Hajjali [email protected] 0524476389
- Shopping: Prices here are a fraction of those in Marrakech; don’t be surprised if the store owners don’t budge much – there isn’t room to. If you hate the hassle of haggling, skip shopping in Marrakech and do it here instead. **Special tip: Check out Yassine for extremely unique art like nowhere else in Morroco.
Transportation: What to expect: Cabs aren’t out to overcharge you here; a normal ride of a few minutes will run you 5-10 dirhams. Otherwise a lot of locals get around by bicycle.
Gnaoua festival: If you’re here during the festival expect lots of hair and higher prices. We watched maybe two to three songs of three different acts and decided we’d seen the unique part of it, but would rather get a drink. But if that’s your thing, then good on ya.
While similar in vibe and prices to Chefchaouen, Essaouira is unlike anything else you’ll find in Morocco. A safe place to get away and relax.