Although Essaouira is quite a large Moroccan city of 70,000, the tourist part of town is really quite small and divided broadly into "Beach" and "Medina". We are fortunate in that in Morocco the French colonists tended to build their modern part of the city alongside the traditional medina and Kasbah parts, and many Moroccan cities now have both.
I will cover the Medina elsewhere, but I have to say while the surfing is obviously an attraction in this windy Atlantic Coastal city the beach part of town is fairly nondescript. I particularly didn't like the unfinished look to the place with lumps of concrete sticking out on an abandoned strip of land between the beach, road and strip of restaurants. While there are some lively looking places to eat and drink, again it is a pretty undistinguished selection and the local Muslim sensibilities means that the town doesn't feel like it has a particularly stunning night life.
Between the Medina and the Beach is the sea port and fort area which looks out to a rockier aspect and a couple of islands just off shore. The fishing area is a bustling place in particular, and while the place smelt of badly rotted fish (the strong sun doesn't do the catch any favours), it is a fascinating place to have a wander and watch the fishing boats and fish chefs at work (there are some open air booths where locals buy cooked fish). Obviously, the trick is to not get in the way of these busy hard working folks.
From a distance the boats looked pretty, but as we got closer we could see that many of them were coming to the end of their useful life, and I appreciated what a risk these fisherman were taking going out into the rather boisterous and windy waters of the Atlantic. It was nice to see that despite their apparently hard life the fishermen had time to toss the local cats a fish or two from their catch.
While we didn't spend too much time wandering down the beach, we did appreciate it was a long and wide stretch with plenty of sporty activities such as wind surfing, camel and quad bike riding and beach volleyball. There were also a full share of "surfer bums" wandering along the beach with skin like elephant hide, necks like tree trunks and hair of straw with grey highlights; many of them looked like they had been in town a couple of seasons too long. Still if you need an experienced hand to help teach you surfing then I don't doubt it is available.
Although we found the narrow streets of the Medina much more to our liking, it was worth taking a different aspect (and a less hindered breeze off the sea) by strolling down to the beach area, and in particular taking time out to explore the fishing port.