This is the old world, maybe this is where I belong? Endless beaches and blue ocean as far as the eye can see, a seagull over me, I sit at the fish restaurant Le Chalet de la Plage. On the table a monkfish. Pure silence, not even the seagulls try to kill the good moment. I’m in Essaouira in Morocco.
Situated at the northwest coast of Africa
Exciting things are happening on the beach below. It’s ready for barefoot football, a court lined up with bamboo sticks. Hundreds of people watching. The rosé wine that accompanies the monkfish is absolutely fantastic, and I have no plans. From the nearest minaret, it crackles in the speaker. This is Essaouira, or Ess, as the city also is called. A bohemian, Muslim city on the northwest coast of Africa.
Here came hippies, surfers and tourists
The hippies came to Essaouira already in the 70’s. Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Cat Stevens came to an unknown outpost, where they could be themselves. Then came the windsurfers, who dreamed of huge waves, and now thousands of tourists. Essaouira is a fishing village in the Atlantic Sea, cooler, more exotic, more karma, more charm, and probably more marijuana.
Mint tea, also called Moroccan whiskey, is consumed all day. I walk into the magical souks, after the monkfish is consumed, I get completely lost, three colorful ladies help, and I am offered both mint tea and marijuana. For you I give a special price, my best friend. I just asked for more Moroccan whiskey, and get plenty of sugar as well.
I walk around within the city walls, climb up, look out at the Atlantic Ocean, down on the fishing pier, check the day’s catch, blue and white as far as the eye can see, even the boats are full of those colors, and suddenly it’s grapefruit time.
Essaouiras best kept secret
– Join the Sahara, Mustapha begs. He calls himself the Prince of the Sahara, and looks like one.
I’m inside the souks in Essaouira, and Mustaphas shop reminds me of 1001 night. On the walls are pictures of American ladies, whom he claims he has guided on all his desert hikes in the Atlas Mountains.
Later in the evening I had dinner at Elizir, Essaouira’s best kept secret. Owner Abdi has an Italian wife and is self-taught at his fingertips, whether it is food, interior design or hospitality. In the middle of a mixture of Moroccan and retro Italian environment, we have a fantastic three-course meal, while we agree that what the world needs, is much more of peace, love and respect.
Where is Essaouira?
Morocco is a monarchy in North Africa. The country has a long coast towards the Atlantic Ocean. The fishing village of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast was formerly known as Mogador, and has about 60,000 inhabitants.
The best time to travel to Essaouira is March-June and September-November. Arabic and French are the main languages. Essaouira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I went by bus, and the journey took about 3 hours. I traveled with Supratours, which has comfortable buses and several departures to Essaouira daily. I paid 80 Dirham. Check the Supratours website for departures.
Ferry from Spain to Morocco
There are several ferry crossings from Spain to Morocco. Ferries currently connect 4 ports in Morocco to 5 ports in Spain.
Accomodation in Essaouira
Villa Maroc is a cool boutique hotel consisting of four trading houses. Great roof terrace, good spa and super location.
Where to eat in Essaouira
We highly recommend Elizir, a mix of Moroccan and retro Italian interiors, the world’s nicest hosts and local food. Here you can have a glass of wine. The beach restaurant Chalet de la Plage is an institution with a beautiful terrace, food and wine, and at the patisserie Chez Driss from 1925 you can eat Moroccan cakes in a cozy courtyard.