Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast, barely two and a half hours from the bustling Marrakesh, or five from the capital, Casablanca, is one of the most most tranquil and beautiful cities in Morocco. It is a world heritage site because its medina is completely different to any other, not only in Morocco, but in the whole world. In 1765, Sultan Alaouita Sidi Mohamed ben Abdellah, or Mohammed III for short, was a tad fed up with Morocco’s isolation in the world, so he took the wise decision to contract French military engineer Theodore Cornut to make the old Portuguese port of Mogador a cosmopolitan city open to the Atlantic.  The sultan wanted a vast port from which he could trade with the great powers of Europe. The objective was to raise a city from between the sand and the wind; to bring it out of the ruinous state in which it found itself. Cornut, who had worked on the fortress of Avignon, was fascinated by the new style of European fortifications such as that of Saint-Malo, in France. He soon began work, leaving a result which is nothing short of amazing. Initially named Saouira (the small fortress), it soon went on to be known as Es-saouira (the beautifully built).

Its surrounding areas make it a city with an enviable offer, both for tourists and sports fans, backpackers and lovers of culture in general. But Essaouira is particularly known for kitesurfing. The city’s bay is protected from the strong Atlantic swell by the island of Mogador, where the Portuguese jail once stood. The almost flat sea, together with the Sharqi, the strong wind from the Sahara, which blows an average of 350 days a year, make it an ideal location for practicing this sport. Across the bay you can find various schools and shops where you can hire equipment for kitesurfing. It is also possible to go surfing on the beaches to the north and south of the city, because they are directly open to the Atlantic.

Essaouira is a very interesting city which is well worth visiting, either for a couple of days or for spending a week kitesurfing, losing yourself in its fantastic semi-desert surrounding areas, attending the lively African music festival or simply relaxing for a few days from the noise and Moroccan heat.


“The hotels of IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts in Morocco are an oasis of luxury and comfort, boasting 4 and 5 stars, where guests will find everything they are looking for during their stay.  Offering welcoming rooms as well as culinary, sports and entertainment services to suit all tastes.”