since 2009

8 things to do in Essaouira right now

With little to do but wander, Essaouira remains a hippy hang-out where Jimi Hendrix is said to have penned Castles in the Sand. Today though, a more Bohemian crowd flocks for the laid-back ambiance, delicious local cuisine, and miles of beach perfect for walking (even as far as the castle in the sand said to inspire Hendrix’s song). Laid-back Essaouira is a must-do either as part of a custom Morocco tour or an excursion from Marrakech.


It is believed that viticulture may have been introduced by the Phoenicians and at Domaine de Val d’Argan in the Essaouira region, Charles Melia from Châteauneuf du Pape in France, creates a range of white, red, rosé and Moroccan gris wines. Customize your itinerary with a sampling and lunch at the winery either en route during a day trip from Marrakech or as an extra activity while in Essaouira, part of your multi-day private tour of Morocco.

le domaine


Ride off in to the sun- set Arabian horseback style! The friendly folks at Equi Evasion organize a two-hour sunset trek that is sure to take your breath away as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean with views of the ruined castles and mosque in the background. Or sail off towards the Iles Purpuraires as they are known locally during a two-hour sail around the bay. As human access is restricted to protect the precious birdlife (the island is a breeding ground for Eleanora’s falcons) that exists on the islands, this is the closest way to get up close and personal.

Known as the windy city, Essaouira is also a popular destination for kite-surfing and surfers and a day riding the waves (even for the most amateur of surfers) with Explora is always fun !

DSC 0395


The restaurant scene in Essaouira is hotting up with local hotspots UMIA’s Ottolenghi-inspired menu featuring fresh seafood in a cool setting, One Up, located in the former British consulate building is beautifully decorated and serving up an eclectic menu and a rooftop terrace where lunches will be served opening soon.

Newby La Tete dans les Etoiles is popular for sushi on Saturdays and the regular live music fusions on Saturday evenings while nearby Le Chalet de Plage is a popular institution amongst the bohemian jet set who prefer a seafood feast overlooking the ocean. If you’re not put off by somewhat slow service ( after all, Essouira doesn’t quite transpire urgency), head to Ocean Vagabond for the most delicious fresh tuna steaks and grilled sea food.

20160521 133921 RichtoneHDR

Foodies will want to head to La Fromagerie for locally produced sheep, cow and goat’s cheeses served over several courses under the shade of the olive trees. Jolly cheese-producer and owner Abderrazzak casually greets guests, sharing a few laughs and explaining the cheese-making process done on site.


The only region in the world where the famous argan tree grows, picking up a bottle of both the culinary and cosmetic oils is a must! For the best, forget small spice shops and purchase only the oil produced by nearby Sidi Yassine.

We love visiting the little workshops on Rue Chbenate for wooden bowls, spoons and serving ware made from locally sourced thuya and olive wood while watching the craftsmen spin their creations.

DSC 0126

Essaouira is known for its raffia craft and the small boutiques throughout the medina sell a range of colourful shoe styles – loafers, slip-ons – that are perfect for warm summer days wherever your next stop on your tailor made Morocco tour!


While Essaouira is known for its relatively few sites, hiring a guide is one of the best ways to understand the old city steeped in history. Once home to a thriving Jewish, Christian and Muslim population peacefully living together, today only one Jewish resident remains and some Christian expats remain in this Muslim dominant town. Yet the proof remains – Star of David, Flower of Life and the Islamic crescent engraved throughout the medina that was once a bustling Portuguese port and known also as the Timbuktu port as it marked the end of the trade route as caravans made their way across the Sahara desert. In fact, today many of the local Jewish synagogues are undergoing restoration works with foreign aid.


Whether visiting Essaouira as part of a day trip from Marrakech or an overnight as part of a private Morocco tour, watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean as the call to prayer rings out over the medina, seagulls overhead and surfers winding down for the day is a must. For a casual drink, head to the top terrace of Taros where the energy is upbeat and fun or to Ocean Vagabond where locals and expats flock to wind down for the day, a true local Cafe del Mar. For fancy cocktails the rooftop terrace of Palais Heure Bleue cannot be beat!


Many cities offer cooking classes, but we think those offered at Khadjia’s Kuzina are rather special. Offered in Khadija’s home, guests create a custom menu that mixes traditional with creative menu options including appetizer, main course, fresh juice and fruit-based dessert before eating together in the comfort of her traditional Moroccan salon (living room). If you fancy something more elaborate, Madada Mogador’s Atelier Madada, a cooking school in a former almond factory. You will have a 4 hour workshop under the supervision of Allison and Mona, complete with a trip to the nearby spice souk. You will then prepare and eat a full multicourse lunch.

Atelier de cuisine


The wildly popular Gnaoua and World Music Festival attracts festival-goers young and old as some of the top maalem (master Gnaoui musicians) are invited to share the stage with international, often jazz and blues acts, to fuse with the traditional music with African/Islamic roots. The stages are often alive until the wee hours of the morning as concert-goers flying in from around the world and travelling from across Morocco dance the night away in the famous Place Moulay Hassan. The festival is usually held in June. 

2671455129 c943c00347 b

For a more refined concert experience, the Andalusian Music Festival (known locally as the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques d’Essaouira) is held annually the last weekend of October and celebrates the rich Jewish legacy and the shared Arabo-Andalusian heritage between Morocco and Spain. Afternoon concerts set in the Andalusian-style Dar Souiri are intimate and popular, making it feasible for visitors on a day trip from Marrakech to enjoy some live music.

About the author:

In 2010, Mandy Sinclair arrived in Morocco on an 18-day holiday. Little did she know her life was about to change as she fell in love with the country, the music, the food, the culture and the people. Within five months she returned and in 2014 she established Say Something Communications, an English PR agency in Marrakech, and Tasting Marrakech, private food and cultural tours of Jemaa el Fna. Her writing has been featured in Brownbook, Time Out Marrakech, and H.O.M.E. interiors magazine.

DSC 0063

Sun Trails
Based on 25 reviews
powered by Google
Zach TobinZach Tobin
22:16 29 Jan 23
Traveling alone internationally with a 7-year-old for the first time had me a bit nervous, but Sun Trails made our week-long visit to Morocco a flawless and unforgettable experience (we toured the south of the country). Daoud was an exceptional driver through all sorts of terrain while also being so kind, patient, and personable to my daughter and me. The accommodations, food, and activities throughout were excellent in terms of value. I would recommend Sun Trails to anyone who is looking to have an incredible time in Morocco.
gosia lukomskagosia lukomska
13:46 29 Jan 23
We had the trip of a lifetime with Cristian's company. We feel like we made life long friends with his amazing guides who are knowledgeable, kind, and excellent at their profession. The hotels that he chose were boutique gems and our itinerary was so well executed. We even had some surprise desert picnics! The attention to detail and level of customer service surpassed our expectations. I would highly recommend anyone visiting Morocco to do so with this company.
Henri OrmusHenri Ormus
19:43 15 Jan 23
We had a great off-the-beaten-track experience with our guides Majid, Daoud, Leila and rest of the crew. The whole trip was well organized and our wishes were handled with care. Our group of adventurers got some very real local experience. We had too many interesting experiences to describe but of course the Western Sahara desert hike was superb (but I would recommend definitely 3 days instead of 2 days what we did) but actually the best was the hike in the deserty mountains with staying overnight in large tent carried by donkey... beautiful landscapes, very different actually, over the hills and through the valleys and dried-out rivers. One evening dinner was a goat bought from local nomads once arrived at the camping site. End of the hike was beautiful pools of water to swim in. Thank you Sun-Trails crew, it was great! Henri from Estonia
Rob MRob M
22:51 27 Dec 22
I highly recommend Sun Trails for your Morocco adventure. Our guide, Mustafa, was top notch and an incredibly fun and knowledgeable person for our 6-day journey from Marrakesh to Fes (via Merzouga). Sun Trails has some fantastic vehicles that can get you through the toughest terrain (including through sand dunes). The staff seem to know someone or something cool to see (or something delicious to eat) in just about every town on your journey. We felt safe and secure with our wonderful guide and friend. Yes, a private tour with Sun Trails is going to cost a bit more than the ones you may stumble across online. But trust me when I say you get what you pay for with Sun Trails. I’ve already recommended them several times to friends and strangers.
Kristi HarmarKristi Harmar
08:09 03 May 22
I wish I could give this review more than 5 stars. We are doing a world tour - and this trip with Suntrails (with Daoud as our guide) is by far the highlight of the entire trip. We did a 4 day tour to the Erg Chigaga dunes in the Sahara and it was incredible. The accommodations, sights and car were great but what made this trip so amazing for us was our guide, Daoud. In order to see the things we wanted, we had several long days in the car and we did the trip with 2 small children (2 and 5). Daoud was fantastic with our kids - playing with them and entertaining them and the kids are still asking me to see him 2 months later.We decided on the "dreamer" level of accommodation with an upgrade to a luxury tent for the night in the Sahara. I deliberated a lot about which level/price point to choose but what we chose was perfect. The tagines were amazing and the riads were beautiful. Cristian took care (and a lot of emails) to help me include everything I requested out of this trip: camel riding, adventure off the beaten track, hiking to a kasbah, etc. Our guide, Daoud even walked to the next closest desert camp to find us a sand board one morning.I could go on and on about this experience but I will just say that I have recommended it to anyone I have spoken to about Morocco. I never repeat trips but I am planning a future trip to come back to Morocco just to do another trip with Suntrails to explore more of the country off the beaten track.


Want to catch our special rates ? Travel with us this summer and enjoy up to 20 % discount on our rates. Offer available from 1 July to 31 August. Send your enquiry using #summerspecial