Annual music festival
Essaouira hosts the yearly Gnaoua World Music Festival, so if you can plan your visit to coincide, you’ll be in for a treat. The music festival serves as a platform for the music by the Gnawa, who originated from the Ghanaian empire of Ouagadougou. The festival, which is held in June each year, sees jazz, pop, rock and world music performers entertain up to 500,000 guests over the course of four days. With many of the performances free to visitors, it comes highly recommended.
Visit an argan oil cooperative
The argan tree is native to Morocco and there are an awful lot of places wher you’ll find argan oil and argan products. In Essaouira, you can visit an argan oil cooperative, where you can witness the products that are so important to Morocco being made. In rooms adorned with argan trees, women use ancient tools to hand press oil from the kernels and complete the elaborate process of creating argan cream. It is indeed more expensive to buy the argan products from here, but it’s definitely worth seeing the process first hand in what is something like an open air museum.
Essaouira’s beaches are prime locations for windsurfing and kitesurfing among other watersports because of the strong winds all year round, but especially in summer. There are plenty of surf shops and surfing schools, as well as windsurfing schools in Essaouira that are great for beginners. It’s a fantastic alternative activity away from the big touristy cities.
If watersports aren’t your thing, Essaouira’s beautiful coastline is also great for horse riding, where you can gallop through the waves and over the dunes. These adventures cater for beginners too, offering tutorials and lots of support for those who have never ridden. With adventures varying from one hour long to a few days of horseback riding, there’s a package to suit anyone and is definitely a worthwhile experience.
Fishing market and port
Since Essaouira was Morocco’s main fishing port in the mid-1900s, the fishing port and market offer an authentic setting that makes for a truly peaceful afternoon. Masses of small boats form an almost unending wave of bright blue along the harbour. With fishing such an important trade in Essaouira, it’s no surprise you can enjoy catch of the day freshly cooked in numerous restaurants here.