700km south of Tangier, Essaouira is Morocco’s prime coastal resort, a charming UNESCO fortress city on the Atlantic seaboard and a beautiful destination for winding down at the end of the trip. Set within the natural bay sheltered by the Purpuraires Islets just of the coast, its history 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 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 heading to the centre and you can explore its dramatic ramparts, winding alleys and souks. Although international travellers have long replaced the original hippies who pioneered it as a resort, its easy-going nature lives on in marked contrast to the frenetic energy of Fes or Marrakech.