Formerly a Portuguese stronghold in the 18th century and now a fishing village, the city of Essaouira, with its stone ramparts and mass of whitewashed houses, overlook the azure Atlantic Ocean. A welcome respite from the bustle of Marrakech, the tranquillity of Essaouira belies its rich history and the many international influences that have permeated this ancient trading and fishing port. Relax over a freshly caught fish lunch at a local restaurant, taking in the view of the blue fishing boards bobbing in the harbour. Stroll through the serene squares, browse artisan shops and galleries, and observe the handicrafts of the ’tuya’ wood found only in Morocco. Finish your afternoon with Moroccan tea and delicious French pastries at one of Essaouira’s many cafes.
The town of Safi, lying on a section of the Atlantic coast retains its ancient Portuguese fortifications and is renowned for its sardines, pottery and ceramics. Continue down the picturesque coastal road and you will come to Oualidia, a serene fishing village spread along the southern shores of a natural seawater lagoon, flanked by a kasbah built in 1634 by Sultan el Oualidia. Enjoy lunch while watching the constantly changing coastal views. Beaches offer fine sand, safe surfing and windsurfing or take a ride in small fishing boat. To the south are small sandy coves and rocky cliffs to explore.
From Oualidia continue to El Jadida. Lying 63 miles south of Casablanca, El Jadida, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a former Portuguese colony with its fortified and moated medina lying adjacent to the harbour. Traces of its Portuguese past remain in its lanes and ramparts, and most notably its underground cisterns, pillared and vaulted like a church crypt and illuminated by eerie shafts of sunlight. With a stylish boulevard sprinkled with cafes, the beach stretches out towards the horizon. El Jadida also shows off what is considered to be Morocco’s most beautiful 18 hole golf course.