While typing in the title of this post I kept hearing the chinese tourist one row before us in the bus trying to pronounce E-SSSS-A-U-OU-I-RRRRRA all along the 2 hour 30 min drive (which took 4 hours if you add the stop at the Goat tree, the technical breaks and the argan oil supposedly women owned cooperative).
I would definitely recommend to do a day trip from Marrakech.
That said you can also come from Agadir but it is a bit further away.
Essaouira is a cool beach town but once you had your selfie on the beach,
fresh grilled fish in the harbour and a walk in the souks
you are ready to go back to busy Marrakech.
We booked a transfer with Viator (which is usually a really cool
and trustworthy platform to book guided tours and transfers)
but it did not go as planned and kind of got scammed
(we paid 20 euros per person!)
To sum up, book a car or go with a private guide to avoid
any unnecessary breaks on the way there.
The first mandatory stop on your way to Essaouira is right on the side of the main road to take a picture of one the Argan trees climbed by goats which eat the tiny fruits. We questionned how genuine this one was though, this tree was very tall and some kind of platforms were built on which goats looked scared more than enjoying the Argan fruits (but let’s not be too picky it is still fun to see).
The second stop might be at one of the argan oil cooperatives. However, be careful guys, the legit ones are usually more on the road to Agadir (Ajddigue, Tamounte or Agdla cooperatives). The ones on the road from Marrakech are usually just normal companies owned by men who increase prices for tourists ! FYI a pot of Argan honey costs less than 150 DH.
Depending on what time you woke up and how many stops you chose to make, you should arrive in Essaouira just before lunch. I will then recommend you to walk around the harbour and have lunch in one of the fishermen’s huts or you can also choose to have lunch in a cosier restaurant. We chose the latter and ended up at Umia, a small restaurant just behind the fortress walls where the service is cheerful, the local wine is good, the decor is trendy and it might be your only option to not have Couscous or Tajines for a change 😉 .
After lunch, you will wander the small alleys of the medina and the souks. Don’t hesitate to enter some of the riads and go wild on shopping (it was overall less expensive than in Marrakech). A couple of must dos below;
Very much like in Marrakech hype and trendy stores are suprisingly
everywhere in Essaouira but with a slightly different vibe than in
Marrakech. So obviously very first recommendation would be the souks
but when you want a bit more order and less haggle try those:
- Maison Berbere
- Hippie Chic and at Makki
- Cote Oriental
- Rafia Craft
- Histoire de filles (my favorite one with a concept store next door
(L'Atelier) where you can shop and enjoy a tea and a cake while you wait
for your driver to bring you back to Marrakech!
See more on Marrakech here