Kites in the air, surfers on the water, waiters with dreadlocks and camels on the beach. Essaouira is the hippie paradise of Morocco. No don’t go wild immediately. If you are used to places like Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica Essaouira is a bit a conservative hippie paradise with a lot of burkas in the streets of the medina and a very male dominated street scene, but it definitely got a hippie feeling to it.
If you’re looking for a nice place in Morocco to surf, chill, get some sun and soak in some culture at the same time, try this relaxed surfers and fishermen’s town on the west coast of Morocco. The help you on your way here are five things to do in Essaouira.
As soon as you get close to the beach you will see the sky dotted with big kites in all colors of the rainbow. Essaouira is a kite surfers favorite with its nice winds and relatively flat sea. All along the boardwalk there are surf shops were you can hire kite board gear and get lessons. Also check out the little side streets, just off the beach. You will find more options here.
Old school surfing
If you are as old school as I am and prefer to have your ‘sail’ in your hands instead of high up in the air Essaouira is the place to be for you to. Most shops still rent out surf planks and sails. So grab one and mix and mingle with the kite boarders on the water
Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? Or at least out of the water? Then you might want to board a ship of the dessert: a camel. Don’t worry, you don’t have to look around for it, the shepherds will come to you as soon as you put your cold feet in the hot sand.
Race around with a quad
If you don’t fancy a camel ride, because you think it’s a bit cruel for those lovely animals to be on the beach all day, sweating their guts out carrying tourists you can also jump on a quad. The beach of Essaouira is perfect to race with all the sand dunes that are formed by the wind.
Visit the old medina
The old town of Essaouira is worth a visit. Even if you have been put off after a visit to the Medina of Marrakech, try this one. The medina of Essaouira – added to Unesco’s world heritage list in 2001 – is laidback and you won’t get hassled as in Marrakech. If you’re there keep your eyes on the many heavy old wooden doors in the whitewashed houses. Some may look a bit shabby, but inside you will often find a surprisingly spacious and beautiful palace. Often the labyrinth of streets suddenly open up in a big square with nice restaurants and bars around.
If you like to do yoga in Morocco: keep an eye out for 21st Sanctuary Retreats. They organize a lot of yoga retreats in Morocco, including in Essaouira and surrounding area.