Beach Town of Essaouria

For a day-trip from Marrakesh, I visited the seaside town of Essaouria - and I'm very glad I did. Next time I may stay longer!

Seaside Restaurant

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 27, 2011

One of our first stops when we arrived in Essaouira was for lunch along the beachfront. There are a handful of cafes back to back on the last strip of open sand you get to before entering the walled medina. We haphazardly picked one and ended up at Restaurant de la Baie.

There are two sections of seating in this basic cafe - an open indoor area with a large glassed wall looking towards the ocean, or the outdoor covered seating if you want to be even closer to the salt air. Because we were a group of 11, we sat inside to get an immediate table, as the outdoor seats are the most popular. It was actually nice to be in the cooler indoors after we'd just spent a little time in the sun on the sand.

The menu here is quite basic, focusing on seafood, and offering other Italian-style plates like pastas, pizzas, and some sandwiches. The majority of us ordered pizza, which was a nice change from the traditional Moroccan food we'd been enjoying all week. The pizzas were quite tasty, and the prices here are reasonable. After we left I glanced at the other menus on the stands by the entrances to the neighboring restaurants and de la Baie was a handful of Dhs cheaper than the others.

Service was ok, nothing special, and as always just be sure to double check your bill - especially in groups. I'd say if you're looking for a no-frills place to grab a quick bite while you're at the beach (and outside the main town of Essaouira) then stop here.

Restaurant de la Baie
avenue mohammed V, Essaouira, Morocco
Restaurant De La Baie
Avenue Mohammed V
Essaouira, Morocco

Camel Rides on the Beach

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 27, 2011

Wow! One of the most fun experiences we had in Essaouira (and maybe even one of the top we had in Morocco) was definitely our camel rides on the beach with Ranch de Diabat.

I was leading a group of 11 people to Essaouira for a day trip from Marrakesh, and later in the afternoon we drove from the Medina to the smaller village of Diabat just outside town to the ranch. We'd previously made reservations for our entire group to ride the camels together. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the extremely friendly staff and with no hassle led to our camels getting ready.

Sometimes I found that in Morocco having things run smoothly with companies dealing with groups didn't always happen, but it stood out to me here at the ranch that I didn't need to worry about a thing. We waited for a few minutes by the stables as they were preparing our 11 camels (it's one person per camel as the Moroccan camels have only one hump). The ranch also runs horseback tours as well, and we were able to look at the beautiful horses while we waited.

It seemed that they very much knew and respected their animals, as they saddled the camels and matched each one of us to the proper one - based on weight, etc. Each camel had a name plaque on their saddles and the seating was very comfortable (given we were straddling a camel's back!).

Soon we were off on the leisurely ride through the inlet area, past the sandy dunes and an old fortress, then to the oceanfront. Our guide was so friendly and walked along side of us the entire way leading the camels. He spoke English very well and told us informative and entertaining stories the entire time.

We took a break at the sea to give the camels a break and to allow for some amazing photo ops. Soon we were back on our way through the dunes and brush back towards the ranch.

Our entire tour was just around an hour, although they offer much longer and extensive ones. I would say though after we were done I was ready to be off, and think the hour trip is perfect! Definitely a MUST when visiting the area!

Ranch de Diabat
quartier Diabat
boite postal 1402 gare routiere Essaouira 4300
Fax: 00212-524476382
Ranch de Diabat
quartier Diabat
Essaouira, Morocco, 4300

Best Gelato in Town

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 27, 2011

It stands to reason that a place serving cool treats on a beach town known for its hot days would do well...and Dolce Freddo is no exception.

I was told about this gelato place before heading to the seaside town of Essaouria on the west coast of Morocco. I was told not to miss it and to go back a couple times in the day. Unfortunately I only made it once, but it was a welcomed treat!

Located just on the corner of the main square inside the Medina walls, there are several tables with umbrellas to lounge on and watch the activity in the square while you cool off, or you can do as we did and just take a cup of gelato to go as you continue wandering through the souks.

It's a pretty standard gelato shop with a glass container of the flavors, complete with the many popular gelato flavors from chocolate, pistachio, and cream to the fruity ones like strawberry, peach, and mango. There are also some seasonal flavors thrown in as well.

The Italian ice cream is homemade on site and stands up well to others I've had outside of Italy. The workers and host was very friendly, and from what we could tell the prices were the same for take-out or sit-down.

If you're looking for a treat while in Essaouira then don't miss this gelateria.

Dolce Freddo
place Hassan II, Essaouira, Morocco
Dolce Freddo
place Hassan II
Essaouira, Morocco

Perfect for Sunset Dinner

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 27, 2011

Just inside the walled Media area of Essaouria is the restaurant Il Mare. Great for a lovely view of the Atlantic and fort, especially at sunset. Not so great if you're in a hurry - as the service is very slow.

We visited Il Mare after a day-trip to Essaouria from Marrakesh. Essaouria overall is a wonderful smaller town, with a laid-back vibe conducive of its beach location. Just after watching the sun fall below the water, we walked up to our private terrace area in the restaurant where the evening lingering colors of the sunset were very warming in the space. The highly Moroccan decorated space offered stunning lights in a "tent-like" ceiling with cushioned booth areas and low tables. Definitely atmospheric.

I was leading a group of about 11 people and previously spoke to a server about how our menu and checks would be handled. We did have a few different servers and although they didn't seem to communicate fully between themselves, it was organized well enough. Our orders were taken promptly and the drinks served.

Each course after that took a bit more time, and the check took forever. I read similar reviews to this as well, so it must not just be that we were with a group. Luckily everyone was enjoying the view and conversation enough to not be in a hurry - although we did have a long 3hr ride back to Marrakesh that night.

Prices are moderate and reasonable, and alcohol is available (which isn't the case at all restaurants in Morocco). If you're not in a hurry, and would like a nice view - definitely head to Il Mare!

Il Mare
43, rue scala, Essaouira, Morocco
+212 (0)24 476 417
Restaurant Il Mare
43, Rue Scala
Essaouira, Morocco
212 (0)24 476 4

Overview of the Seaside Town

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on October 27, 2011

The beach town of Essaouria on the west coast of Morocco is a lovely laid-back and exotic city. I recently visited as a day-trip from a week in Marrakesh.

After the 3-hr drive from Marrakesh in the morning, we arrived in Essaouria. We enjoyed stopping along the long drive for a mint tea at a "rest-stop" type restaurant, as well as checking out the fields of Argon trees which only grow in this area of the world. *Goats also love to eat the argon fruit and will climb into the branches to dine...but watch out for the trees by the road filled with goats, as many tourists stop to take photos and are quickly approached by men who have chained the goats in the trees to ask for money for the photos when cars stop.

We arrived just before lunch to the beach area of Essaouria, and took some time to check out the shore. The beach is quite wide and open for many people to spread out a towel. There's a mix of apparel, from women in covered more traditional garb, to many people in swimsuits. A few beach areas are available with private beach "clubs" where you can pay for a chair/umbrella for the day and use the restrooms and changing areas - similar to the European style beaches.

There is a strand of restaurants lining the shore, which are all moderate priced, offer a nice view, and basic seafood and pizza dishes. We had pizza (one of the only times enjoying this in Morocco), and then headed the kilometer away towards the walled historic part of the city. The city is definitely beautiful with a chic and welcoming sort of rugged. It was a nice break from chaotic Marrakesh and offered a bit more of a laid-back vibe.

Take some time to wander the alleys and check out the souks. Vendors hear don't seem as pushy and prices are better as well. Walk along the waterfront dock area to watch the sunset, or check the fisherman coming in from sea.

For some activities just outside the city, you can take horse or camel rides on the beach or check out the crumbling fort just outside town where many in the hippie culture of the 60s and 70s came to see, including Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, and Bob Marley (which you'll see photos and flags of everywhere).

Definitely worth a stop (and stay) if you're traveling through Morocco. Especially if you need a break from the other cities, take a couple days to wind down in Essaouria.

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