Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira is known as the windy city – good start! The wind fills in from the North (the Medina and town end) and increases as the day goes on. Swell rolls in between the island and the mainland increasing towards the south. Essaouira is a windsurfer’s paradise and a couples dream; authentic, busy and relaxed making it idea for both parties!

Load up the taxi, pile mountains of gear on the top and then fall asleep for two hours shattered from a sleepless night. Waking up on top of the long hillside overlooking Essaouira you will notice that all the trees are bent over one way, the air is cooler than Marrakech and the White City is stained by the sand constantly blowing through it. This is a windy place. Once through the Police traffic stops (Essaouira is very safe place) and upon entering the city, the main roads are lined with people jangling keys at you. Quite an odd thing to do if you really think about it but they are actually renting apartments! The main road takes you along the seafront; this is where the excitement builds. If you arrive when there is swell you will see lines of perfect waves, starting smaller toward the town and peeling towards the wave end of the beach where you are. First you will pass the Fanatic Trailer and then the Mistral Centre; next you will find your hotel. You have arrived!

Essaouira has got to be one the most lively and relaxed places there can be; cosmopolitan but at the same time very African. There is a non alcoholic, vibrant buzz about the place. The vast sandy beach can suit all tastes. On the same day you can learn to windsurf others can score smooth, easy and even epic wave rides that you can push as hard or as little as you like. The food is good and cheap, the wind is reliable, and it is a windsurfer’s paradise. The worst thing? The water…well it could be a little warmer.

Fact File

Windy Season Thermal wind from April to September.
Wet Suit? A good 3/2 or even 4/3 as the water is quite cold.
Average Wind Speed Force 2 up to a Force 8
Flight Time (From UK) 4-5 hours then a 2 hour taxi from Marrakech Airport .
How To Get There

The driving option is detailed in the Moulay Bouzerktoun report here moulay_bouzerktoun. It is a very, very long way.

Fly

To fly, I really can recommend Ryanair. They are cheap: off season is about £50 all in, whereas peak is about £150. You have to book on kit; this works out at £15 a bag. If you are going wavesailing then you can get away with just one board, a boom, mast and two sails in a bag and you will be fine every afternoon.

Ryanair fly from Luton to Marrakech. The flights are early in the morning.

Easyjet fly from Gatwick and have similar if not a bit more expensive deals. The allowance for kit is about £30 a bag.

Book a Taxi!

If you fly, then make sure you book a taxi from Essaouria itself. The taxis are about 70 euros each way with kit.

If you do not have any kit then jump on a bus, it is much cheaper.

Car hire

Car hire is the most expensive part of the trip. Unless you want to explore the area, you really don’t need one as the beach is on your doorstep.

How The Wind Works

I ended up windsurfing so much that I needed time to rest. I am 80kg but my biggest sail I used was a Simmer 5.3. I could have windsurfed more often if I had a bigger sail, but I didn’t need to. If you are taking your own kit then scale it up and down accordingly to your size and ability. I took two boards; a Fanatic Newwave 74 and a Fanatic Freewave 86. I had two fins for each board. Sails wise I took three; a 4.2, 4.7 and 5.3. This was a perfect combination; the larger freestyle wave dealing more than adequately with the lighter wind wave riding. I would generally start sailing at around midday on a 5.3, have a break and then need the 4.7. Some days it would just build and build but only once did I want a 3.7.

The fact that I mainly used wave orientated kit should not put off anyone. That is just the type of windsurfing I prefer, as said before Essaouira has something for all abilities.

Instruction And Kit Hire

Club Mistral

This is a professionally run centre with a range of Mistral Syncro’s and waveboards all powered by plenty of brand new North Sails, right on the waters edge

Magic Fun Afrika

The guy who owns this is super friendly, he also has a hire centre just up the road in Moulay. Run from a trailer the best advice is to get there early. He also repairs kit.

Accommodation

As mentioned before, as you approach the city there are plenty of, erm…agents selling you good accommodation. For a really nice apartment, slightly back from the main beach that gives you a taste of Moroccan life then try this guy. We used him and he was an amazing host. They also have a garage for all your kit.

Also recommended is the Al Jasira hotel, which have free wireless broadband.

If not then give these a try:

Food

The food is brilliant. Expect to pay about 65 Dirams for a three course meal in most restaurants (this is about 6 euros). The best dishes are the Tagines in various flavours which is a traditional Moroccan stew or the famous couscous. Fish is also a speciality, lookout for the blue and white alfresco fish stalls as you enter the medina. Eat as much as you can! There are so many restaurants in the Medina that it is best to eat out every night until you find your favourite one.

The Muslim way means that drinking is not that common. It is hard to find a restaurant that serves alcohol. When you do the food is not so good. Although there are some great Italian restaurants run by Europeans. If you fancy a cold beer then go to the Vagabond beach restaurant, next to the Mistral centre. (Although you will never get served as the waiters are generally rude, and the service is terrible. The food is nice though). There are some backstreet Polish Liquor stores, although I never found them.

Bored Of Windsurfing

There is so much to do; amazing markets and shops, café’s to visit. Then there are camel and horse rides all found on the beach. You can hire a surf board from the Mistral centre and Fanatic trailer, or just chill out and absorb some friendly African culture.

Hot Tips

  • Take a long wetsuit either 3/2 mm. Some even had 4/3.
  • Take as much alcohol from duty-free as possible if you fancy a little post celebration sail.
  • If you are female take cool clothes to keep you covered when you are around town to respect the local tradition.
  • Taxis in the city are cheap; about 7 diram to anywhere in the city which is about 40p.
  • If you drive always tip the beach parking attendants, they will make sure that you get the best spot.
  • If you are in a rush, then don’t eat at the Vagabond beach restaurant. You need a lot of time and will miss the best session on the water.
  • For waves go right the way downwind in the bay.
  • It is always a force windier 20 kilometres to the north in Moulay.
Conclusion

Essaouira is a brilliant place and really cheap flights can be had from Ryanair early in the season. Whatever your ability you will improve and have a great holiday that isn’t just about windsurfing.

Tourist

Clyde Waite 

Local Beach: Southbourne
Years Windsurfing: 20
Last windsurf move cracked: Should be last windsurf move forgot!
Working on: Pushloops
Clyde is sponsored by Simmer Sails, Fanatic Boards, Reef Clothing and Boardseeker.com

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