Essaouira was a bit different than the cities we visited because this portion of the trip was a real vacation. We slept in, didn't have a schedule, no guides, no plans, nada. Essaouira is a 15th century port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. We spent our days here exploring the medina and drinking fresh orange juice oceanside with the hysterical beach entertainment... Camels, horses, ATVs, surfers, kiters, windsurfers and lots of puppies. I'm going to share my highlights of Essaouira with you instead of a full recap of our time here because we spent most of our time relaxing and wandering. It was much less structured than the rest of our trip.
We found a handful of amazing spots which are definitely a must in Essaouira. You can't pass up the pastries at Patisserie Driss. They're unbelievably tasty (my favorite of them all pictured below), they're beautiful and they cost a whopping 5DH or about 50 cents a piece. I'm pretty sure I ate around a dozen of these cookies in the 4 days here (they're about the size of my hand)...
We also found the best Moroccan crepe we had of the whole trip from a street vendor called Chez Miloud on one of the main drags... We went back 3 times (if you couldn't already tell... This was a carb filled vacay). I liked my Moroccan crepes best doused with honey... Here, one crepe is only 3.5DH or 35 cents. The restaurants in Essaouira are amazing and extremely inexpensive. The ones I would add to your must eat list are: Layounne, The Loft, Mega Loft, Taros (for a beer or juice on the roof- the food here was much pricier than other places as its in the main square). Our favorite spot to sit at the beach was the Ion Club. Great smoothies and juices, the pizza was also quite good! The other food was just alright, so I would recommend this more for a juice and a great spot to relax and take in the crazy beach scene! Eating fresh fish grilled right at the port is also a must! There’s one spot right at the port where they offer this and a few spots in the medina where you can buy your fish from the market and then they’ll cook it up for you right there!
One night, we took a cooking class with a charming local couple in their home and had a wonderful time! Not to mention, the food was amazing! It's called Khadija's Kuzina. It's run by Khadija and her husband, Hussain, who are just lovely! I would definitely recommend taking a cooking class with them when in Essaouira. Not only did we learn to make a few of our favorite Moroccan dishes but it was very cool to get out of the tourist area of Essaouira and see where the locals live. Cooking in a real Moroccan home with two extremely kind locals who were also great teachers was a memorable experience. The class was 30 euro/ person which in my opinion is extremely reasonable and 100% worth it.
The reason we wanted to visit Essaouira is because it's known for its windsurfing and surfing. We first learned about the town 14 years ago when my family was on Maui for a Starboard photo shoot and met the nicest Moroccan windsurfer named Boujmaa who is from Essaouira. We've stayed in touch with him all these years and since then he's been telling us we’d love his town and should visit. Well, we finally did!! We were able to see Boujmaa and meet his wife and son as well as see the sports camp he runs just 20 minutes outside of Essaouira. If you're looking to windsurf or SUP in Morocco, whether you're a beginner or not, Bouj X Sports is your place. He has a great guest house right next to the beach and all the gear you need. Plus, you couldn't ask for a better instructor than one of the very best professional windsurfers on the planet! Seeing Boujmaa and meeting his family in his hometown was definitely a highlight of the trip for us.
When the surf got too big for any of us to be in the water, we decided to head back to Marrakech one day early for some business and more exploring. For our last night we stayed at La Maison Arabe which was the most charming Riad with absolutely outstanding service. It was actually the first Riad in all of Marrakech and the accommodations were first class!
That day, I met with one of the owners of the famous Marrakech concept store, Max and Jan to learn about their journey, their collections and local designers. This store is a fashion lover’s dream. Even my dad (who I mentioned before doesn't care and knows nothing about fashion) was blown away by this store. It was so fun to meet and chat with Jan. In March they're also adding a restaurant to their store so if I didn't already give you enough of a reason to visit, there's another one! He recommended lunch on the terrace at Le Jardin and we obliged. An absolutely charming place with amazing food!! The seafood pastilla was to die for! Another place to absolutely add to your list.
That night we ate at our Riad and had an amazing meal in the most charming, vibrant and relaxing atmosphere outside by the pool. I was thoroughly embarrassed when the whole staff sang me happy birthday (in Arabic) but it was also very sweet and special. After they sang, my dad told me that when we checked in and they looked at my passport, they noticed my birth date and did that all on their own, my parents didn't ask. Now, that's what I call attentiveness and amazing service. My whole family agreed we would stay here again.
The last morning, mom and I spent two final hours in the markets picking up a few little things and going to a meeting (I'm sorry I can't tell you guys more right now but I have super exciting news coming soon so stay tuned!!!). We used up every last minute! After hustling back to the Riad we had 15 minutes to pack, change and get to the airport!!!
This trip and Morocco itself were magical. There really are not enough good things I can say about this country and its people. Unfortunately, in America, there are a lot of rumors about Morocco that we learned are completely untrue. I'll be writing a post all about misconceptions and truths of this country. For now let me just say, there's nothing that should deter you from visiting this place. If you have any questions at all about Morocco, please feel free to ask!!! If you're planning to visit Morocco, definitely read my guides to the other cities as well and my tips and tricks for traveling Morocco post. These things will really come in handy!
You can see more photos from the trip on Instagram!