Essaouira Tips

1.How to get to Essaouira?

Essaouira’s airport is 15 km north of town. Easy Jet will run a direct line London – Essaouira from May 2015 twice a week. Ryanair has services Essaouira - Marseille twice a week during spring and summer and Transavia has regular services Paris – Essaouira. 

From Essaouira airport to the city, there isn’t any bus shuttle but you can either use the taxis which are at disposal or ask your hotel to organize a private taxi to drive you to them directly.

As the medina is strictly forbidden to cars, the taxi will drop you at one of the doors. To go to your hotel, ask them to give you instructions and a map so you can find your way easily. Otherwise, feel free to use the service of the “carrossas” (small handcrafted carts, shaped for Medina narrow streets)

 

You can also choose to land in Marrakesh or Agadir. Both of them are 170 km from Essaouira. You will need 2,5 hours to travel Marrakesh airport – Essaouira or 3 hours Agadir airport – Essaouira, with a car.

If you arrive in Marrakesh airport you also have the possibility to use the bus shuttle. 2 companies are good enough and have regular schedule:

If you arrive in Agadir airport, we would advise you to ask your hotel to organize a taxi to pick you up and drive you to Essaouira. Otherwise, you have to get a grand taxi to drive you to Agadir bus station and then find a bus to Essaouira.

The only problem with these bus companies is that this is impossible to book your seats in advance through internet. You need to go there and check what would the next bus available be which could take hours, depending on the season you plan your trip.

               

 

What to do in Essaouira?

Go for a ride with ahorse or a dromedarythrough Essaouira’s beautiful natural surroundings. You can ride Barbary horses or Arab horses and stallions (because we do not castrate horses in Morocco and mares are used for reproduction), with a docile character and which are suitable for riders of all skill levels. But for those who like to take things a bit easier we recommend the slower rhythm of the dromedary.

              

 

And for those who prefer to keep both feet on the ground why not opt for pedestrian tours: the hike, at a pace decided by you, will allow you to discover the beauty of Essaouira’s nature. Whether it is for a half or whole day, you will discover the forests of argan trees and thujas, meet local residents with whom you can have lunch or a mint tea break, depending on the stroll you have chosen. Your guide, a former forest warden, nature lover and connoisseur of the fauna and flora, will fascinate you and help you discover the wonders of nature that surround us. Do not hesitate to ask him questions, you will not regret it …

 

For those who are in search of adventure, a change of scenery and who are motor sports enthusisast, we can satisfy their urge with tours onquadbikes or in 4X4 vehicles around Essaouira’s unforgettable sites. This will allow you to reach places not easily accessible by yourself or by foot.

 

Already a well-established destination for water sports:in Essaouira, particularly to the south of the bay, trade winds blow regularly from May till November, from 4 to 5 beauforts. From June till September, they are generally a bit higher - reaching 6 beauforts. Out of these periods the wind still blows but less regularly. To help practice surfing, kite-surfing or windsurfing, you will find several clubs which can offer you the opportunity to learn and improve your skills with their classes, or if you are already experienced you can simply rent the equipment from the club. 

Morocco is a favorite destination for golf players. Essaouira with the tremendous Golf deMogador Gary Player Signature Course takes pride of place with Moroccan and international golfers.  An integral part of Essaouira, the golf of Mogador offers you a rare experience to play amongst the dunes, forest and the Atlantic Ocean on the two courses designed by Gary Player 

And of course there are many other options to keep you busy during your stay including cooking courses, sailing tour,well-being sessionsincluding hammam with black soap, scrubbing and argan oil massages,

etc…                                                               

Discover the region

A few kilometers away from Essaouira, you will find wonderful countryside, wild beaches and many other things to be discovered…

At Moulay Bouzerktoun, you will have the surprise to discover a small sandy beach with a rocky platform assuring you a regular wave. The wind is often stronger than in Essaouira. It is a well-known spot for amateurs of kitesurf, for windsurfing or for surfing, to recommend rather to advanced surfers.

On the immense beach of Sidi Kaouki (4,5 km long), all the sportsmen, whatever their level is, will have some pleasure, as well to play in the regular waves which come to lick this part of the still wild coast. At the back of the beach, you will find a forest of argan trees, endemic tree of the region, and mimosas. A few kilometers away from Sidi Kaouki, a protected and amazing place: at the foot of waterfallsall the natural elements compete: sand dune, rocky cliff, bed of the river, beach as far as the eye can see and tempestuous waves.

The road to join Ida Ougourd winds between valleys strewed with argan trees, hamlets where group together small low houses, generally painted in whites, low walls of dry stones demonstrating the skill of the local craftsmen and the hills with ground strewed with stones in dry season or growing green at the end of the spring. This region benefits from many springs or ground-water sheets, thanks to the presence of the river Oued Ksob which winds in its lands.

The ground is there also rather fertile and the inhabitants are essentially turned to farming and breeding. Don’t miss the Wednesday’s berber market!

In Had Draa, is held a Berber market every Sunday morning. Accessible by bus, taxi or private car, it is a big moment of meeting for the local populations. Aïn Ahjar or the spring of stones passes by a small village in the North of Essaouira, just after the village of Had Draa. Its name comes from the surprising suspended stones situated under the marabout which dominates the village.

From Essaouira beach, inland about 1 km through sand dunes and scrub, is the Berber village of Diabat. Despite the legend of Jimi Hendrix’s presence in the 60s, nothing particular to do in this little village,

apart from drinking a mint tea with a wonderful view over Essaouira.                                                              

Money, Money, Money

The Moroccan currency is the dirham. Its importation or exportation is prohibited. So, you’d rather bring Euros or US dollars with you and change them onsite in banks. You will find many different banks and exchange offices in Essaouira and will also have access to ATMs, along the beach or near the port, but keep in mind that most of the banks are closed on week-ends. The ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends, so stock up during the working week.

Banks tend to be open from 8.30 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 16.30 during weekdays, but on Friday the lunch break is generally longer to accommodate the main Friday prayers.

Be aware that generally credit cards or debit cards won’t be accepted by restaurants, hotels, shops or boutiques, so get ready to bring cash with you or ask the hotels first whether they accept plastic cards.

If you have only Euros with you, most of the hotels and restaurants will accept them as a payment but then perhaps they won’t have the correct change in case they owe you some money. So, to avoid any discussion, it is better to get dirhams with you and pay with dirhams.

Rarely enough, you may also hear prices quoted in rials or reals (ancient Moroccan money). These are forms of expression only as there are no actual physical Moroccan rials. So check with the person what do “rials” mean for her/him.

 

When you’re nearing the end of your stay, it’s best to get down to as little dirhams as possible. Nevertheless, you will be able to change back dirhams at the airport on departure, but you may be  asked to produce bank exchange receipts.           

Do you need a car in Essaouira?

To reach Essaouira, you can be driving a rental car to Essaouira, land in Essaouira airport or use public transportation from Marrakesh or Agadir (regular buses).

 

If you rent a car, please keep in mind that no cars are allowed in the medina and therefore you will need to use the car parks outside of the walls. The car parks are quite secure but you will need to discuss the daily rate before you leave the car (car park being payable in advance). If you negotiate the rate correctly, the daily fees would be between 15 to 20 dirhams for 24 hours. Before you park and pay, make sure you are in the parking slot which was recommended by your accommodation. Probably they have sent you a map and directions to reach them easily but if you are not in the right parking slot, it will be more difficult for you to find your way.  Also, it is better to check by yourself as the parking guards sometimes have a tendency to confirm you are at Bab Marrakesh when you are actually in Bab Sbaa…

To visit the medina, the beach and even new town, you won’t need a car at all as the whole zone is completely pedestrian. The distance between the medina and the beach is about 500 meters. Even if you want to go away from the crowd during summer time and enjoy a wilder part of the beach you will need to walk about 30 minutes along the beach, which is very easy to do, or can grab a taxi to drive you there.

Small taxis driving around Essaouira are quite cheap and the rate is fixed (7 dh per taxi – about 0,65 €) so don’t hesitate to use them when this is convenient to you. They can also drive you to the golf course.

If you want to visit Essaouira surroundings it is easy to rent a car for one day or two. The minimum daily rate for a small car is about 350 dh. But in this case, don’t forget your driving license at home!

What to wear – how to dress in a Muslin country?

Women should be fine travelling through Morocco, even travelling alone. People in Morocco are not likely to be shocked by Western attire. A head-covering is handy protection against sand or sun but nobody expects you to wear a headscarf or turbans.

Nevertheless, your choice of clothes will be perceived as a sign of respect (or lack of). It is even more important in rural area where it is a good idea to wear “modest dress”, preferably from wrist to ankle. Obviously, modest dress will not only help ward off some unwanted attention, but will also make it easier for you to interact with Moroccans.

I suggest you wear clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. Short shorts and strappy tops will only attract negative attention. If you are not dressed correctly or modestly, people could give you pitying glances or avoid eye contact. 

Older and more conservative men would perhap