Anyone visiting Essaouira for the first time in spring will be amazed by the mild breeze that suddenly greets them as they get out of the car. This burst of freshness is most unexpected. And even more of a surprise having left the stifling heat of Marrakech 170 kilometers to the west of Essaouira Mogador just a few hours previously. As evening falls you may even find yourself needing to wrap up warm. At night those sensitive to the cold sometimes end up grapping a few layers and popping them on. Essaouira Mogador enjoys a mild climate all year round with steady temperatures nudging 23°C during the day, making this peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean a kind of wind-blown paradise on earth with seagulls swirling and swooping overhead.
And yet all you need to do to feel the sweltering heat once again is to go off for a hike in the thuya and argan forests in the neighboring countryside. We know that this particular climate is down to the trade winds that constantly blow through the town. That’s why Essaouira has been nicknamed ‘windy down.’ The winds are also the reason for this town is the top venue for water sports with windsurfing, kite surfing and surfing enjoyed by many enthusiasts in the huge Bay and at other fine sand beaches close by like Molay Bouzerktoum and Sidi Kaouki.
The town, which was listed a UNESCO world heritage site 2001.has two names. The first is Mogador which is a distortion of Sidi Megdoul’s name, a saint whose mausoleum nestles in the dunes south of the town. Other sources claim that it has Phoenician origins and was appropriated by Amazigh inhabitants in the region to denote a fortified camp. The second Arabic name of Essaouira has two possible meanings. The first means the ‘well designed’ and nods to the Cornut plan and the well-balanced districts and market spaces, spacious streets and straight lines of the town. The other explanation is that Essaouira means little rampart (little fortress) – a diminutive of the Arabic world sour meaning wall.