Essaouira is a town on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, below Casablanca and above Agadir. It’s a popular, attractive place to visit because of the fortifications around the old medina. The medina itself is a warren of stone alleyways, full of textiles, pottery, carpets and tourist nick nacs. Like all of Morocco’s medinas it’s bursting with colour. Unlike Fez or Marrakech, it’s a little easier to navigate because of its size.
Another area of the medina houses the food section (a part of which is a big choose-a chicken-to-get-the-chop-and-it-comes-back-gutted-and-plucked section), and a little more inland, the residential section.
The ramparts (Scala) were originally built by the French Architect Théodore Cornut in 1785. They rose to fame as the location for the opening shots of Orson Wells’ film, Othello.
Fishing is a big part of life in Essaouira, and you can see fishermen fixing nets, repairing their boats or setting off from the harbour. Seafood is fresh and good.
If you’d like to find out about traditional cuisine, friends of ours did a cooking course with their kids which they all thoroughly enjoyed. You can find out about it here –
The island which you can see just off Essaouira, called Mogador or “the Purple Island”, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It’s purple name comes from the indigo used for dying textiles which is extracted from snails found on the island.
There’s a long stretch of sandy beach along from the Scala. This is currently being developed as hotels and spas are springing up. There are plenty of places for tourists to stay in Essaouira from the heart of the medina to hotel complexes on the outskirts.
And for campervans? There are two parking areas, both of which take campervans for either the day or overnight for the equivalent of a few euros. One parking area is literally beside the ramparts and the main square; the other is a 15 minute walk round the bay. We parked the day in one, and spent the night in the other.
We also spent one night in a campsite (a desperately needing a washing machine and a shower night) about 20 minutes inland from Essaouira. It’s a friendly site, and nicely laid out – pretty expensive by Moroccan standards – and incredibly difficult to find as it’s in the middle of nowhere (certainly for us it was – but maybe we just missed all the signs). When we were there, there was no wifi.
Camping Esprit Nature
La Kouach, Essaouira
Essaouira is pretty, very windy a lot of the time and slightly more touristy than other places. A good stopover on the way to the south of Morocco. The weather in January? Sunny but chilly, you can still sit outside, but you might want a hot mint tea.