If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Essaouira’s medina, one our personal favourite things to do is to jump in a petit taxi to Diabat (30DH), and walk back to Essaouira past Dar Sultan Palace and along the wide expansive beach. And if you time it just right, you can enjoy a sundowner at Beach & Friends, one of the best sunset viewpoints in Essaouira.
Here we detail how to get to Diabat, how to check for Essaouira tide times, as well as detailing the walking route from Diabat to Essaouira.
Do also check out our guide to visiting Diabat.
How long is the walk from Diabat to Essaouira?
Walking along the beach from Diabat village to Bab Sbaa, Essaouira medina, is 5km (3.1 miles).
What to take on this walk
There are no facilities between Diabat village and the beach bars of Essaouira (Beach & Friends), so please ensure you take enough water with you.
There is also very little in the way of shade, so pack sunglasses, sun hat, and sun cream. A jacket is handy if you are visiting during the winter months, as it can be rather chilly first thing in the morning and after sunset.
Comfortable walking shoes are a good idea. The first section of the walk is on tarmac, which then leads into a rocky track. Along the beach you will probably want to take your shoes off to enjoy the sand and water between your toes.
Getting to Diabat from Essaouira
If you’re thinking about doing this walk in reverse and walking to Diabat from Essaouira, please bear in mind that there are fewer petit taxis to flag down in Diabat and you may need to practice some patience.
This is why we recommend getting a taxi to Diabat first and then walking back to Essaouira.
You can pick up a petit taxi from any of the main gates of the medina (read our guide to taking petits taxis in Essaouira).
Checking for tide times
The Oued El kassab (a river) separates Diabat from Essaouira.
During most of the year, the river doesn’t quite reach the Atlantic Ocean and you can walk across the beach. We’ve also walked across the river bed close to the Diabat bridge in the summer months.
However, when there has been rainfall, the river here flows into the Atlantic and it’s worth checking tide times for your walk, just to be sure (click here to check tide times). And when the tide is right out, you can climb onto the distinctive rocks known as Borj El Baroud.
Checking for sunset times
This does mean that you’ll be walking the last stretch back to the medina in the dark. However, powerful lamps light up the beach at night so it feels safe, even walking along the shoreline.
The walking route from Diabat to Essaouira
Ask your taxi driver to take you to Diabat. Then as you reach the roundabout, with the mosque on your left, ask to be dropped off. If you reach the Jimi Hendrix café on your left, you’ve gone too far.
1. To Dar Sultan Palace
With the roundabout in front of you, facing back towards Essaouria, take the paved road to the left. This leads away from the main road and round to the left. Follow this all the way to a large car park. To the left of the carpark is Dar Sultan Palace.
It has been rumoured that Dar Sultan Palace inspired Jimmie Hendrix to write Castles Made of Sand. This is a great story, except the song was released two years before his visit to Morocco. It’s a great song though, and worth a listen.
Dar Sultan Palace was the residence of high dignitaries and sometimes Moulay Abderrahmane Khalifa, who was the King of Mogador (the old name for Essaouira) between 1822 and 1858. The palace was extremely modern for its day, fully furnished in European style, with glass windows installed by Dutch craftsmen.
Over the years the palace has been battered by sandstorms and ocean winds, and attacked by vandals. The ruins are now at one with the sand dunes (although it’s a shame they’ve built the massive car park right next to it).
It’s a fascinating place to explore and open to all to wander around (there’s no fee or gated entrance). The stone arches and even the mosaic tiles are still clearly on display.
2. To Diabat Beach
After exploring the ruins, return to the car park and continue along the rocky track, around to the left, to Diabat Beach. There are plans to also pave this section in time.
3. To Beach and Friends
Turn right at the beach and start making your way back along shoreline to Essaouira. On windy days, you may need to be mindful of the kite surfers.
Shortly on your left you will pass Borj El Baroud, large rocks that are beckoned to be climbed at low tide, and sand dunes to your right.
When you see the collection of camels (or rather, a caravan of dromedaries) hanging around for tourists wanting a ride, make your way up to the beach bars for that well-earned drink and/or bite to eat.
4. To Essaouira medina
Once you’re refuelled, either continue along the beach or the corniche back towards Essaouira medina. If you’ve stayed at the beach bars after sunset, don’t worry about walking in the dark as the beach is brightly lit by lampposts along the entire stretch of corniche.
Explore Essaouira ebook£9.45
Explore Essaouira ebook
Updated for 2024, the Explore Essaouira ebook is the only travel guide you need for exploring Essaouira. It is jam packed with inspiration on what to do, where to eat, where to stay, and also includes a step-by-step self-guided walking tour (with photos).
This is a PDF download for use offline and on the go (and ad-free!). Save it to read on the plane to Morocco, download to your phone to follow the self-guided walking tour around the medina, or print it off at home before you leave on your adventures and highlight all the bits you want to remember for your visit.
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Before your go, check out these useful reads for your visit: