Can I wear my normal summer clothes in Essaouira? Are shorts ok or do I need to cover up? Can I wear a bikini on the beach in Essaouira? Here we answer your questions on what to wear in Essaouira.
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Firstly, thank you for taking the time to research what to wear in Essaouira. Many visitors don’t and choose to wear what they would wear in European summer destinations, which may not quite be in keeping with the local culture in Essaouira. The fact that you’re reading this post, means that you want to be respectful to local customs and are a responsible traveller.
Essaouira is a tourist town and beach destination, and consequentially is one of the least conservative destinations in Morocco. However, this is still Morocco with a very strong Muslim culture, and visitors should be respectful of this, especially around Ramadan.
What clothes to wear in Essaouira
Whilst everyone should be free to wear what they want, out of respect, we advise you to dress modestly, especially around the medina and outside mosques. It’s best to cover your shoulders and your knees, and women should avoid low cut tops. Children are absolutely fine in T-shirts and shorts.
In the summer months, light and breathable fabrics will be more comfortable, and you will need a light jumper or cardigan for the evenings, as it can still feel rather cool on those sunset walks and evening beach strolls.
In the winter months, you can still expect warm sunny days, but it will be much cooler in the mornings and evenings, so pack layers. A light waterproof jacket is also a good idea for the odd rainy day.
What shoes to wear in Essaouira
Flip flops are absolutely fine along the corniche and for short walks in the medina. However, if you plan on longer walks (such as on our self-guided Essaouira walking tour), or heading down to the port, we suggest wearing hiking sandals for comfort (such as KEEN sandals). There are often raised objects to stub your toe on and uneven paths around the medina, or discarded fish parts on the floor of the fishing port (you really don’t want to squish your flip flop into a discarded fish head).
These hiking sandals are great all year round. But in the winter in the evenings, you may prefer a light trainer.
Also, the stretch along Essaouira beach from the medina to Diabet is fantastic for a run, either on the beach or along the corniche. If you’re a keen runner, it’s worth bringing your running trainers with you.
What to wear on the beach in Essaouira
Local men all wear swimming shorts (sometimes underpants) and are topless on the beach in Essaouira. So men and boys are absolutely fine in normal swim shorts.
Local ladies will be covered in a abaya and hijab. However, being a tourist beach, and especially in the summer months, you will be fine in a bathing suit or bikini. If you are basing yourself around the parasols and sunbeds towards the medina end of the beach or opposite the large Essaouira hotels, you may feel more comfortable as this is where most tourists sunbathe. However, away from the sun lounger areas, if a woman is on her own in a bathing suit or bikini, she may receive a few stares from young men and attract attention.
Topless sunbathing is extremely inappropriate in Essaouira, and perhaps leave the thong-bikini at home.
It is also insensitive to walk along the Corniche and away from the beach in your swimwear.
If you plan on doing a lot of surfing or kite-surfing in Essaouira then you may wish to bring your own wetsuit, although these are always provided with lessons.
Be sun safe in Essaouira
With more than 320 days a year of sunshine, it’s very likely that your visit to Essaouira will coincide with a sunny day.
The sun is strong in Essaouira, and that wind off the Atlantic may lull you into thinking it isn’t as strong as it really is, especially in the summer months. Don’t get caught out. Slap on the factor 50, and if you need to get hold of more suncream, you can purchase it at Carrefour supermarket on the main road out of Essaouira. Zinc is a good idea if you’re heading into the surf.
Whilst Instagram will lead you to believe that floppy hats are an essential item in Essaouira, they will just blow off in the wind. We recommend wearing a cap for extra shade on your beach strolls, or a wide-brimmed hat with a strap under the chin.
And don’t forget your sunglasses and maybe a spare pair (or is it just me who always looses / breaks sunglasses?). Not only will they protect your eyes from the sun, but when the wind kicks up the sand, they will protect you from getting sand in your eyes.