If you find yourself in Morocco, a road trip should be on your bucket list, especially when touring its southern region. Essaouira should be one of the towns you visit for its history, beach life, and culture.
It is also the home to the eclectic Gnaoua World Music Festival which takes place in June for four days. I was in Morocco recently and this is how I spent 24 hours in Essaouira.
Wednesday 8 am
Checked out at a hotel in Marrakech and began the road trip to Essaouira. It takes roughly three hours to get there. My highlight was taking a photo with the climbing goats of argan trees.
I had seen these goats on social media before but the experience made me shed tears. If you visit, tip the farmers generously.
We stopped at Marjana Cooperative and I watched the Berber women produce argan oil. The cooperative is a few minutes from Essaouira. Argon is used as cooking oil and for cosmetics. I didn’t know that producing argon oil was such a labour-intensive process. I sat with the women and broke the nuts.
We made another stopover to look at the scenic views of Essaouira. Here you’ll find locals with their camels ready to take you around for a fee.
Checked in at Soffitel Essaouira Mogador Golf and Spa, freshened up, and had lunch.
Drove through Essaouira with my tour guide and host. Our first stop was at a fishing port where we watched fishermen wash their nets and the many boats docked at sea.
Essaouira is one of the most productive sea ports in Morocco with a great catch caused by the powerful trade winds known as the Canaries current.
We took a stroll and watched the seagulls fight for fish. There are also two fish markets should you desire to buy some shrimps, sardines, squid or red snapper.
We toured Essaouira Medina, a fortified town with a mix of both European military architecture and a Moroccan feel to it.
It was defended from the ocean by the 8th-Century fortifications and this has made it earn Unesco World Heritage status. It’s a mix of cultures too with Arabs, Berbers, Africans as well as Europeans living together side by side.
We toured Le Souk, a market where jewellery, artwork, carpets, spices, and clothes are sold. As with all souks in Morocco, this one had various sections with the main one devoted to souvenirs like clothing, jewellery, tagines, ornate teapots, and artwork.
We walked to Sqala du Port, a long-embattled artillery platform built in the style of a Vauban fortification in 1769.
The platform safeguarded the harbour with two 200-metre platforms one leading from the Bab el-Marsa gate east to the tower, and then the other to the south in the circular Borj el-Barmil bastion.
Had a tour of the woodworkers' souk. They have beautiful woodworks made by the marquetry artists of Essaouira.
Essaouira is the main centre of wood carvers in Morocco and some of the world’s finest marquetry (inlaid work made from small pieces of coloured wood or other materials, used for the decoration of furniture).
It was dinner time. We ate at Dar Baba a restaurant, which is situated at the heart of Medina in Essaouira. Apart from the plenty of seafood options, I was also entertained by a magician! A great way to end a long day.
I returned to the hotel room ready for the next day's tour of another city.