We visited in March, 2007, and March is generally too cool to swim in this Atlantic coastal town. Unless you're under the age of thirteen, in which case there's no bad time to go swimming. The girls eagerly ran in and out of the water, while Andrew and I shivered in our windbreakers. We had the beach completely to ourselves.
Essaouira is also a working harbour, and the next day we walked down to watch the fishermen in action. We enjoyed seeing the boats, large and small, coming inshore with the catch of the day. The best place to take in the action of the harbour - and to look back over the town - was from the ramparts just outside the medina.
As with so many cities, Essaouira's history is complicated. First established as Migdol in the seventh century BCE by the Phoenicians, it was subsequently ruled by the Carthaginians, the Portuguese (who called it Mogador), and finally the Moroccans. It was under Moroccan rule in the eighteenth century that the city walls were commissioned, and that the city was named Essaouira, meaning "beautifully designed". If you've watched Orson Welles' Othello, you've seen the ramparts and its cannons in the opening scenes.
A series of stalls at the base of the ramparts featured vendors selling, among other things, wooden recorders and seashells. In short, there was everything needed to make a young person's day complete.