700km south of Tangiers, Essaouira is Morocco’s prime coastal resort, a charming UNESCO fortress city on the Atlantic sea-board and a wonderful destination for winding down at the end of the trip. Set within the a natural bay sheltered by the Purpuraires Islets just of the coast, its history can be traced back to pre- Roman times as a trading post for Tyrian Purple dye, a colour so favoured by the emperors. In 1510, an early fortress was built under the Portuguese king Manuel I yet modern Essaouira owes itself to Mohammed III. For 12 years from 1760, the sultan directed French engineer, Théodore Cornut to reshape it along modern lines and so create a cosmopolitan port that opened up sub-Saharan trade to the outside world. Today, its long open beach attracts wind- and kite-surfers alike while head to the centre and you can explore its dramatic ramparts, winding alleys and souks. Although the original hippies who pioneered it as a resort have long been replaced by international travellers, its easy-going nature lives on in marked contrast to the frenetic energy of Fes or Marrakech.