Essaouira: Following the Hippies through Morocco

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There was a time when Essaouira was firmly established on the hippie trail.  In the 1960s/70s Morocco became a popular destination and many young long-haired ‘alternative travellers’ (aka hippies by the mainstream population) arrived in Essaouira in search of whatever it is 1960s hippies were searching for (self-discovery, free love, cheap hash, that kind of thing I suppose)

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Jimi Hendrix once stayed here (Cat Stevens, Frank Zappa and some of the Rolling Stones apparently too). The nearby area contains a Jimi café, and several hotels that claim to have accommodated him during his stay (estimated to have been less than two weeks so he certainly moved around if he really did stay in them all).   There are also several people wandering around claiming to have been fathered by him (bear in mind these offspring are now in their mid-forties).

It has also been claimed that Hendrix wrote ‘Castles made of sand’ about his stay in the town, although the track had been released more than a year before he arrived.

Whatever the truth, certainly Essaouira is keen to exploit its hippy past, although those days are pretty much over.  Now it is a little sea port town with a somewhat windy beach, a working fishing port and a little market/shopping area.

Port with little fish market in front

Port with little fish market in front

The shopping street is very laid back, particularly if you have arrived via Marrakesh and are used to the hard sell that goes on in the bazaars there.  In Essaouira you are generally given space to look at things before the stall owner pounces ready for the hard sell.  All in all this makes it a much more relaxed destination than Marrakesh.

Laid back (by Moroccan standards at least) little shopping area

Laid back (by Moroccan standards at least) little shopping area

It’s certainly still worth a trip.

24 replies »

  1. The shopping sounds fun, I do get a little a tickle out of bartering with people over prices and famous for walking away and getting the deal was looking for. wonder how i’d fair in Essaouira? I didn’t know that they thought Hendrix wrote the song about this area, interesting!

  2. I would love shopping here! I am normally running away from any Arabic market because they are too pushy and loud for my taste. This city sounds like my cup of tea!

  3. Looks like a great place to visit. I haven’t been to Morocco yet so I will add it to my list for when I am there. Would be nice to do some shopping without getting too much hassle 🙂

  4. Looks beautiful. I laughed about Jimi moving around – I do wonder how many actually accommodated him! I guess maybe he did move around to prevent fans knowing where he was…but then again I don’t know how many Moroccan fans he would have had? I love your photo of the boat with the bright blue top then the rest looking a bit run down!

    • Cat Stevens eh? He’s the one who converted to Islam and has a Muslim name now, isn’t he? I get him confused with Donavan for some reason. Same era but he went to India

  5. Cool history! I love how so many hotels have claimed he’s stayed there! Essaouira sounds like a good place to check out!

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