A few hour's drive from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, Morocco, lies the coastal town of Essaouira. For a break from the city, or simply for soaking up the sun on the endless sandy beach, it's a quiet and peaceful real Morcco beach resort - the perfect escape.

The city is in contrast to the pink walls of Marrakech properties - all the walls of are white and doorways blue, reflecting the sun through the magical alleys of the town. It's a city well known to windsurfers and kite surfers - it's Atlantic sea breezes make it perfect for wind-based watersports. However, be aware the wind can also make it quite chilly, even in the middle of summer. Best times to visit are spring and autumn (and even early winter) when the breezes subside and the heat of the sun are at their best.

Each year, Essaouira plays host to the annual Gnaoua music festival - a celebration of world and African music, and the city comes alive with a number of free events and music stages throughout the town for people to enjoy.

Being a coastal town, seafood is on the menu, and you can enjoy a number of fish dishes, including fish caught straight from the boat, grilled to perfection over hot coals. Of course, all other kinds of Moroccan cuisine are also on the menu.

The town ramparts are free to explore, and most of the town can be seen in a day, giving a glimpse of the real Morocco. As with most other Moroccan towns and cities, most of the action takes place inside the city walls, although, thankfully, the size of Essaouira means it's much easier to discover without getting lost in the maze of alleys! If you are staying overnight, bear in mind that the Moroccan property and luxury riads in the town are not on the scale and size of those in Marrakech, and can be claustraphobic. As such, a regular hotel or Morocco beach resport may be your best bet.

Late afternoons see the locals come out to play soccer on the beach, and it's fun to watch the fancy footwork and skills on display. Otherwise, hours can be whiled away inside the town, watching the local craftsmen at work creating Moroccan mosaics and Moorish tiles or table lanterns, or you could go shopping for local art and handicrafts, or simply relax on the beach.

Essaouira has quite a unique atmosphere, unlike many other Moroccan towns, with a laid-back attitude that's made it popular with artists and bohemians since the time of Jimi Hendrix, who was a frequent visitor.

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