By Rhonda Carrier
Driving a quad bike full pelt along the shimmering golden sands of Essaouira with the ocean sparkling in the sunshine beside you is an experience you’ll never forget. Afterwards, high on adrenaline, we all agree that we’ve rarely felt so free.
We’ve come to this laid-back, almost hippyish port city and resort as a side hop from our city break in Marrakech just under three hours away. Its main attraction is that it’s the starting point for nearly 30km of pristine, elemental Atlantic beaches – ones where you can lose yourself in all sorts of thrilling activities from beach-cast fishing to kite-surfing and surfing.
'You can go out on horses, camels and quad bikes for as little as an hour or for several days, with overnighters in Berber tents for a true feeling of escape and adventure. There’s even the opportunity to spend an enchanted night in a clifftop bivouac, with a barbecue and dancing around a campfire.'
We try out the latter with the friendly crew at from Ananas Kitesurfing. Essaouira has strong winds that make in one of the best places in the world to learn kitesurfing, and the city’s vast beach is a lovely one, overlooked as it is by the city’s 18th-century seafront ramparts with their old brass cannons.
Other amazing things to do in Essaouira are horse-riding on the beach or in the nearby desert (young kids ride on horses with the instructors) and dromedary tours. You can go out on horses, camels and quad bikes (all with the family-run Ranch de Diabat) for as little as an hour or for several days, with overnighters in Berber tents for a true feeling of escape and adventure. There’s even the opportunity to spend an enchanted night in a clifftop bivouac, with a barbecue and dancing around a campfire to live music
We stayed just north of town, in the Sofitel Marrakech Lounge & Spa Hotel with its playful contemporary decor, kids’ club for ages 6-12 years, outdoor pools and delicious maghrebi and global cuisine. But of course the central medina begs to be explored, especially the souk, which has the advantage of being less hectic than those of Marrakech.
If you prefer a riad, the intimate Heure Bleue Palais – part of the Relais & Chateaux group – includes family suites with fireplaces around its colonial-style courtyard. It also has rooftop with a lovely heated pool and terrace grill that counts among the best restaurants in Essaouira. Feasting here on the likes of local lobster, spaghetti with shellfish bisque and tiramisu with amlou (the Moroccan equivalent of Nutella) as the sun set over the city and the call to prayer resounded through the air, it was all too easy to believe we’d arrived in heaven.
Find out more about Morocco family holidays or call one of our agents now on 0203 633 0653 and let us book you the tailor-made trip of your dreams. Think about combining a kitesurfing holiday in Essaouira with a Marrakech city break (see above) and perhaps also a couple of nights in a luxury desert camp.