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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find Luxury for Less in Marrakech


5. Oddball Day

Essaouira sits on the Atlantic, a few hours away from Marrakech.  

Escape to the laid-back beach town of Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, which attracted the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa in its hippie heyday. First, fuel up on fresh apricot danishes and almond croissants ($2$4) at Chez Paul (Rue Allal Ben Ahmed; 212 5 24 45 84 74). Have your hotel concierge arrange either a taxi (about $70 one way) or a private driver ($75$100 for the day, plus an additional $20 if you wish to return after 9 p.m.) for the two-and-a-half-hour drive past olive groves and dusty villages. Head straight to the beach, which hosts the annual World Cup of kitesurfing, and rent your own board ($26 per hour; three-hour lesson for $100) from Yousurf Essaouria. Have lunch on the beach at Le Chalet de la Plage (Bd. Mohammed V; 05 24 47 59 72), where the fresh seafood selection includes grilled sardines ($8) and Provencal-style squid ($14). Afterward, you can drive ten minutes away to ride camels on the beach ($17.50 for an hour) at Ranch de Diabet or stay put to check out the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum (Rue Laâlouj; 212 (0) 44 47 23 00; $1 admission), a former mansion that showcases jewelry, carpets, and other local crafts. Then pick up some gifts at the relatively hassle-free souk, where you can find gorgeous wooden boxes inlaid with walnut, citrus wood, slivers of camel bone, and metalwork in geometric designs for ($8$25). Haul your purchases to rooftop bar Taros after it opens at 7.30 p.m. Grab a seat, order grilled calamari ($14) and settle in with the local surfers for live music featuring traditional instruments like bass drums and castanets before making the trip back to Marrakech.

Published on Nov 29, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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