Essaouira has grown on me. My first visit was one of confusion and my lack of preparation left me wondering why I was there. It felt like a small, windy and boring Marrakech, but it’s actually so much more.
- Atlantic hostel. Whilst travelling, finding hostels you love is part of the adventure, but I can safely say this is the coolest place I’ve stayed in Essaouira. It’s super cheap, close to everything and has a jaw-dropping roof terrace. There’s a tiny bar, music, cushions, blankets and panoramic views of Essaouira all around. They haven’t paid me to say this, but it’s excellent.
- The fish market is overrated. There’s a huge selection of fish caught locally and cooked up right in front of you for low prices. It sounds heavenly and I was annoyed I missed it on my first visit, however on return I checked it out thoroughly yet didn’t eat there. The fish sat out in the sun covered in flies, then they were cut open and gutted on the floor with stray cats pawing at them. As appealing as the wide range of exotic sea life was, the preparation conditions were just a little too poor for my taste. The fish market overall is also a LOT smaller than other travellers had led me to believe. Still check it out for yourself, but keep your expectations low.
- The beach isn’t for chilling. The sand is grotty, the winds are insane and the water is brown. It’s a worthy walk as it’s massive and the sheer speed of the wind makes it an adventure, but this isn’t a beach you take a towel and relax at. If you’re in Essaouira looking for watersports however, the beach is absolutely ideal due to the wind and lack of tourists getting in the way.
- Eat at small restaurants. There are a lot of places to enjoy tagine and couscous in Morocco, but if you find a smaller restaurant in Essaouira you will be truly satisfied. Huge portions at low prices with traditional Moroccan surroundings, including sitting on floor cushions alongside strangers. It’s a really pleasant dining experience; one of my favourite whilst travelling.
- Bring a hoodie. It’s still Morocco so it’s still hot, nut I cannot describe how powerful those winds are! If you don’t bring your own, you’re likely to drop £12 on an Essaouira hoodie. This was possibly one of my greatest ever purchases as even back home it gets used excessively.
- There’s not much here. Once you’ve seen the above, you’ve pretty much exhausted Essaouira. It’s still nice to stay and chill but you’re gonna need to bring a book or some kind of entertainment if you intend to stay longer than a few days.
I don’t think Essaouira still has the charm it once had when rock stars would come here to get away from everything, but it’s just a bus journey from Marrakech and definitely worth a few days out of the city madness to come and visit. Also despite what everyone in Marrakech will try and tell you; Supra Tours is the way to get here. I’ve tried multiple services and they all go the exact same way, but that air conditioning is worth an extra 50p for the 3-hour journey.