Cool and breezy Essaouira, on Morocco's Atlantic coast, is a laid-back alternative to the frenetic melting-pot of Marrakesh. The bustling medina is much easier to navigate than the maze of Marrakech as a series of linked streets forms a central spine leading directly from the northern gate to the main square of Place Moulay Hassan by the waterfront.
It's just short of a 200 klm drive from Marrakech and the highway passes through a number of small villages along the way. It is possible to see this part of Morocco as a day trip and most hotels and Riads will have a driver and car that can be hired out for a variety of day tours. Ours cost around $120 AUD for the day which for a new model, air conditioned car with driver we thought quite reasonable. Essaouira is well known for it's on-shore wind which makes sun baking on the beach a trial by a thousand needles as the sand is whipped up and blasted onto the unsuspecting beach goer.
The port area is a swarm of azure fishing boats crowded into the safety of the sheltered harbour. The ramparts are leftovers from the Portuguese occupation during the 15th century and make a wonderful backdrop to the city. So wonderful that it was used during a scene in "Game of Thrones"....not that I'm into that sort of thing.....just saying.