Are you trying to find that perfect beach horse riding experience or tour in Essaouira, Morocco that is just right for you? Well we were there too… trying to figure out if it was ethical, affordable and in our case, even possible to do with kids. So, we did a whole of research and have prepared this post, to save you the time of doing the same.
If you’re an excellent horseback rider, then chances are you already know that Essaouira is famous for riding. And if you want in on some of that action, then a horse riding experience in Essaouira, will likely be on your Morocco travel itinerary. Long stretches on an open beach, cantering at great speeds, maybe even bareback, with the setting sun beside you.
OR… if you’re like us, novice riders, but like the thought of riding horses along a beautiful piece of coastline and through sand dunes, there are options for you too!
These horses are beauties… and they’re bred and trained for beach riding. And the local guides have riding in their blood. Subsequently they have a passion for both their horses and their homeland. Horse riding on the beaches of Essaouira is a spectacular experience and we thoroughly recommend you do while in Morocco.
Horse Riding in Essaouira – At a Glance
💶 Price – Standard 2 hour tour between 30-35 Euros
⏱ Duration – 1 hour through to full day tours
📍 Location – Diabat, 3 km from Essaouira medina
🐎 Total Number of Stables – 4
🌅 Experiences – Sunset tours or picnic tours – these are slightly more expensive
Read on for MORE details to choosing the right horse riding tour in Essaouira, Morocco for you.
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Horse Riding on the Beach in Essaouira
Essaouira is located on Morocco’s Atlantic coastline. And the charismatic medina is perched on the rocky headland found at its most western point.
This headland connects to two beaches which run both north and south of the city. Plage Safi stretches to the north and the better known Plage Tagharte to the south. And most of the horseback riding takes place along this beach.
Diabat, a small community, is only 5 minutes south of Essaouira. And this is where many of the horse riding ranches in Essaouira are situated. Diabat connects to Plage Tagharte and continues on towards Cap Sim. And this piece of coastline is around 15 – 20 km of uninhibited beach – the perfect backdrop for horse riding in Essaouira Morocco.
Getting to Essaouira
A lot of international travellers come to Essaouira via Marrakech, which is approximately a 3 hour drive west. It’s one of the many one or two day trips frequently organized by Marrakech based tour operators, hotels, or hostels.
However, if you’re making your own arrangements then there are two bus services available. Check our post here on everything you need to know about getting from Marrakech to Essaouira.
Alternatively, you can take a private Grand Taxi for around 60 to 90 Euros.
Essaouira is also 4 – 4½ hour drive south from Casablanca and 3 hours north of Agadir. Direct buses on CTM or Supratours from both destinations are extremely easy to arrange.
The History of Horse Riding in Morocco
Horse riding in Essaouira, Morocco stretches back centuries. There is a strong cultural and community connection to horse riding. Historically speaking, Moroccan horses were fundamental to transport, particularly in their caravans. However, they were maybe best known for their military use by various Berber tribes.
The Barb or ‘Berber’ horse originates from North Africa and was bred for riding in the harsh environment of the desert. Therefore, they’re very well known for their stamina. Later with the introduction of Arab explorers, traders and invaders the horses were bred with Arabian stock. Thus the main breeds seen today – the Barb, Arabian and a mix breed of both.
It is these beauties, that are now trained for riding along the beautiful beaches and forest of Essaouira’s southern coastline.
Horse Riding & Tourism in Essaouira
Because of this strong cultural connection to horses in Essaouira, kids learn to ride at a very young age. Hence the popularity of horse riding and tourism in Essaouira, Morocco.
In terms of tourism, most visitors, both local and international come to Essaouira for the fast paced open-beach riding. The terrain is a horse rider’s dream. Long stretches of beach, with easy gradients, provide horse and rider a large expanse of beach on the lower tides. Also, large sand dunes divide the beach from the forest. And so the combination of terrains is a horse rider’s dream.
Based on the above, there are no shortage of guides and horses available for a horse riding tour in Essaouira. But we caution you on who you choose for your horse riding experience as not all are ethical.
There are the horse handlers that approach you on the beach with horse in hand, saddled and ready to ride. Or you have those that offer various excursions, from one to three hour trips, half day, full day and sunset rides. These tours are available as group or private excursions. There are also multiple day all-inclusive holidays if this is what you’re looking for.
The main companies that offer the various excursions are based out of stables in Diabat, 3 km south of Essaouira.
Read on for more information on choosing the best horse riding experience for you in Essaouira, Morocco.
How to Get to Diabat
Diabat is a quick taxi ride from Essaouira. Alternatively, it’s a pleasant 40 minute walk along the beach – we know because we walked the return with our kids. Although most operators include the pickup and drop off to and from Essaouira as part of their service.
If you do wish to walk, you simply search Plage Tagharte beach on Google maps and head south. Walk past the surf schools and the camel and horse riding touts and past the first set of sand dunes. When you find yourself at the river mouth you have two options. You can turn left and follow the river towards the bridge and main road, just beyond this are the stables. Or cross the river mouth and cut through the dunes past Dar Sultan Palace before reaching Diabat.
Read more about visiting Dar Sultan Palace – AKA Jimi Hendrix Sand Castle on list of 16 Things to Do in Essaouira.
Choosing a Horse Riding Guide and Tour
So, which tour operator should you choose?
From the beach touts to the tour operators, there are a few to choose from. In our opinion the beach touts were just not an option as we didn’t know enough about them. As with any travel tours and excursions we choose, we like to do our homework first.
Firstly, it was important that the horses were well cared for, as typically we don’t participate in animal tourism.
Secondly, our family of four are novice riders. And given, our kids are under the age of ten, we needed to know if it was even possible.
We found that most websites offered fairly similar rates and experiences, so we picked four and sent them emails. Our questions related to… horse riding with kids, budgets and suitable tour options. All the companies replied, however most referred us back to their website.
However, the team at Yassine Cavalier Stables came back to us with several suggestions on what they could offer. Their reply felt more tailored and gave us the confidence we were looking for about taking our kids horse riding.
Ultimately, we ended up confirming a mid-week, early morning, private two hour trip. This included two guides, one who was there to support our youngest who is a little apprehensive around horses.
Our Horse Riding Experience in Essaouira
We booked a horse riding experience for three, Dad and the two kids. Because full disclosure, horses scare the crap out of me. But I joined the trip as family photographer… or so I thought 📸
We were collected at the arranged time from Bab Sbaa, just outside the Essaouira medina. And on arrival in Diabat we met the team, and saddled up for a two hour excursion. Then something extraordinary happened…
I ended up on a horse too!
I have no idea why as I really am fearful of riding, but something told me to do it. And I’m so glad, as it was a magical experience.
We rode down the dry river bed, along the beach, stopping for photos in the sand dunes. We rode, even galloped with some instruction from the guide walking beside us. And because this was essentially a private tour, our seven year old received fabulous one-to-one guidance.
Crossing over the dunes into the forest, we made our way back through the forest and past the Dar Sultan Palace.
Just to clarify, we didn’t book a private tour. But because we chose the first time slot available, there was no-one else booked. This may be a consideration in your own tour booking if you prefer the private experience – that comes without the bigger pricetag.
Tips for Horse Riding Tours
So just a couple of tips when booking a horse riding tour in Essaouira –
- Consider the early morning timings for a more private experience.
- Don’t forget your sunblock and water bottle.
- The sunset tours are a little more expensive but worth the experience.
- If you want to canter along the beach, communicate this with your guide ahead of time. You may be better to book a private tour.
- Most stables will say no to kids under the age of 10, but ask and they may be able to provide an extra guide.
To read our full dedicated review of Yassine Cavalier Stables see this post.
Choosing and Booking a Tour
Below are the most popular horse riding tour options for Essaouira with consistently high reviews. These tours all leave from the stables in Diabat, with pickups from the medina. In our opinion, and from our experience all are ethical tours that will provide a quality experience.
I have also included three tours from the three local providers in Diabat. These are Ranch de Diabat, Zouina Cheval and Cheval Essaouira. Click through to read what each offer. The tour provider name is mentioned under the Additional Information heading in the read more drop down.
Book your tour directly and easily through Viator 👇
The only stables that is not listed with Viator is Yassine Cavalier Stables. But bookings can be made directly with him through Instagram.
If you’re heading to Morocco and are an avid horse rider then Essaouira should definitely be on your list of places to visit. If you book a horse riding tour in Essaouira, you’ll leave Morocco with an experience not to be forgotten.
However, if you are novice riders like us and the thought of horse riding on a deserted stretch of coastline sounds like fun, then this tour is ALSO for you.
AND… If you are visiting Morocco with kids and want to experience horse riding in Essaouira, then it’s for you TOO!
More on Morocco
If you are heading to Essaouira and looking for a comprehensive list of hotel options then read our post on the Best Riads in Essaouira.
Or if you are looking for some other great things to do while you’re in Essaouira check out these posts too:
- 5 Best rooftop bars
- A surf lesson review with Mogasurf
- Best places to eat in the Essaouira medina
- Taking a day trip to Sidi Kaouki
We now travel full-time and have plenty more itineraries and guides to share on all the destinations we visit. Sign up to follow our journey! (And don’t worry we won’t spam you with unnecessary emails.)