Morocco is the only country I return to every year for many reasons. Here’s my top five;
1. You’re in Africa, so you’re almost guaranteed warm, dry weather
2. The culture mix of African, Arabic and French
3. The food, all the food, from breakfast feasts to Couscous Royal. It’s my absolute favourite, I even went on a Moroccan cooking course
4. The shopping is the best for home decor, but be prepared to haggle and be hassled, but that’s the experience!
5. Morocco is a dry country so alcohol is rare outside the hotels. This could be a con for some, but as a pro, there is no rowdy nightlife which is a perfect time to detox and relax
We were drawn to Essaouira because it has some of the best windsurfing sitting next to the UNESCO world heritage 18th century Medina (old Arabic quarter). Here you can get best of both worlds, if you’re not a surfer, there is plenty to do.
You can fly direct with easy jet into the tiny airport, however, due to the unseasonably bad weather there were lots of disruption, so something to bare in mind.
Villa Maroc Essaouira – A Tradition Riad overlooking the sea. It’s beautifully minimalist with bare white plaster walls with high ceiling and original beams. The restaurant is divided into lots of small rooms to create intimate settings with bundles of textiles. The staff were wonderfully friendly and attentive, probably the best service we’ve had in Morocco. There is a spa where I had an Argan Oil massage which was very relaxing. The breakfasts were included and a treat to the eyes and tastebuds, as always. The hotel doesn’t have a pool so they offer the use of their sister hotel, Villa Maroc – Le Jardins – they have frequent shuttles to and from the hotel.
Le Jardin Des Douars – A 20 minutes drive from the town of Essaouira it’s located along the river in an oasis of tranquility. It has individual rooms with log fires and cosy textiles. Included was a thirty minute traditional hammam, after we had full massages. The restaurants were gorgeous over looking the gardens and the river. The gardens surrounding were the most luscious and well kept I’ve seen in Morocco.
Essaouria Medina – A UNESCO world heritage site. Haggle for traditional textiles, ceramics, leather, oils and the list goes on. Essaouira is located next to the town of Argan, which produces fresh organic Argan oil. I found the shopping here much more chilled and friendly than Marrakesh. My favourite shop was Koulchi which was a boutique made out of recycled fishing nets.
Essaouria Fish Port – Walk a few minutes to the traditional harbour full of shabby blue fishing boats and see all the local wildlife including cats, dogs, donkeys and goats.
L’Atelier Madada – The best Moroccan cooking workshop.
Essaouira Beach – The best spot for Surf / wind surfing / Camel riding / Horse riding.
L’Atelier Essaouira – Cafe and shopping
Les Planches – Beach club and cafe. I quickly selected this place because it was the only cafe on the beach that was sheltered from the strong winds and it also had the nicest decor. It was empty due to the fact it doesn’t serve alcohol, which is common in Morocco. But that was fine with me, I got the WiFi code and was set for the afternoon in a sun trap.