Hello my dear readers,
If you remember the post I did about the Essaouira festival, you may already know that I visit the city each summer for quite some years now and that the Mogador charm keeps on making me wonder every time. I also wrote a post recently that got many readers interested, it was about the Top 10 things to do in Marrakech city; so today, because I just ended an amazing week here, I’m writing the top 10 things to do in Essaouira. I hope you like it.
- If you take the road to Essaouira from Marrakech city (which is usually the case for most travellers), make sure to stop at the Argan female associations by the road that offer great eco-friendly cosmetics, oils and creams. Morocco is one of the few countries where Argan tree still grows, so the prices can be a little high, but hey: you’re paying for a product that doesn’t exist ANYWHERE else on the planet, so it’s all worth it. Plus, you’re helping local women empower themselves and become financially independent. Another surprise on the road might be the goats. Make sure to spot the goats that are perched at the top of trees and take pictures, it’s quite a view.
- Stroll around the medina. The ‘must do’ in all imperial cities in Morocco, of course. Essaouira’s souk is indeed smaller than other cities such as Fes or Marrakech, but its charm is no different, and the little wonders you may find here can surprise you. Accessories, Art galleries, clothes, books, music shops, jewelry, food, cafés, antiques… All you need and everything you didn’t know you needed. Make sure to see the sunset at the ancient Portuguese Sqala, impressing!
- Eat a pancake at the ‘creperies’ of the Medina (nutella pancake for 15dhs, yummy). This is also something you just can’t miss while in the souk of Essaouira, both tourists and locals queue for long minutes before getting a pancake they’ll later eat while strolling down the small alleys and bazars. This is something you can’t miss, it’s like going to Macau and forgetting to see the casinos, or going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel tower.
- Eat grilled fish. There are many ‘fish restaurants’ at the Port next to the medina, but many other restaurants offer the same dishes (for less money and more service/flavor/cleaningness), so make sure you choose your place well. The Patio restaurant and Le 7 offer sea dishes that will please each and every taste. And just because I’m a nice person, I’m giving you away the address of the best sardine fisherman and cook in Essaouira, ask for Hassan Chouay (Hassan the BBQ’er) in the Albouheira neighbourhood, in front of the forest. For 20dhs, you get the best sardines in the region, the smile of the fisherman and eventually some very interesting stories about the sea and the profession. If that’s not a win situation, I don’t know what is.
- Surf, bodyboard windsurf or kite surf at the beach. Essaouira’s waves are known to be some of the best in the country, the weather is at its best during the winter period (mid November till February) but if you’re visiting during the summer vacations the waves are just as nice and there are hundreds of clubs and surf shops around where you can rent the gear, ask for help and take classes. My two favourite clubs have to be Club Mistral (Ocean Vagabond) with an amazing location (just few miles off shore) and a café restaurant next door where you can relax, tan and lay down. The second would be BlueKite Club, a little bit far from the best surfing spots but with a team, service and quality to die for. Make sure to check and compare the prices, also see reviews about the team and monitors as it’s a huge factor in the success of your experience before deciding which club you’ll sign with.
- Visit Sidi Kaouki beach for a day.
- Take Moroccan cooking classes at Atelier Madada. The place provides bilingual cooking workshops around the products of the season for 450dhs and oriental pastry workshops for just 200dhs, you also get a nice table to eat what you cooked, tips from the certified local cooks and a great atmosphere for the culinary art lovers. Definitely an experience worth having once in a while.
- Have outdoor activities. By the beach you can ride a horse or camel (for 20, 30dhs per ride), rent a Quad for the hour (300dhs). And a little further from the city, you can go trekking in the mountain and forest, have a 4×4 or Quad circuit… Many compagnies like Essa Evasion as an example, provide interesting group outdoor activities that will satisfy the adventurous side of every traveller.
- Visit the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah museum. Besides the Artisanat and Arts, I think that the particularity of this museum is that it exposes a great music instruments collection from the Andalus, Berber, Gnawi and Issawa guilds, giving the visitors a better understanding of the multiplicity of the city and the country’s diverse influences. Apart from the museum, the Kasbah is a museum on it’s own, everyone should give a visit to the ancient Mellah (Jewish neighbourhood) and the synagogue, as well as the ancient Portuguese Church few blocks away. Finally, the Zaouia of Regraga is also a great surprise to the visitors as it gives a better perception about the Regraga brotherhood philosophy and history.
I hope you enjoyed today’s entry, I wish everyone a happy summer full of travel, discoveries and thrilling experiences. If you have any critics regarding this list, or recommendations, make sure to comment in the section down bellow. Peace out!