You should be fine actually in terms of safety. Morocco for first time visitors would seem to appear daunting, unsafe and even dangerous but that's just as one's fleeting impression - its exoticism and sort of other-worldliness that Westerners especially unfamiliar to the place and culture would feel nervous about will soon disappear as you feel the rare and exciting pulse to the place. There are frequent buses to Essaouira from Marrakech and it takes a good two to three hours with many stops along the way. If you can get one by 5PM, you'll be in Essaouira in mid-evening. Try to see if you can hop on one of those mini-vans (or dolmus or petite taxi, I think they're called) with fewer passengers on board but will get you to Essaouira quicker than the bus.
Know also that in October, daylight is much diminished after summer, so you're travelling already in the cover of darkness. If I were you, I'd overnight in Marrakech and start out early to Essaouira, getting there much refreshed. But if extra cost/money plays a major factor in this travel, I'd consider taking the overnight bus to Essaouira and sleeping thru the trip.
Enjoy Morocco and happy trails.
Here are the buses departing ESSAOUIRA for Marrakech each day:
12h00 Supratours (only in summer)
18h30 Supratours (only in summer)
024 43.55.25 - Supratours Marrakech office
Most travellers will arrive by bus from either Agadir or Marrakech, The main bus station is situated a short walk from the Medina and The Supratour bus stops by Bab Marrakech so no need to take a taxi. However if your luggage is heavy, you have small children or you are not sure about the location of your hotel you might like to hire a "carousa" basically a blue box on wheels. For 5 dirhams the carousa man will take you to your accommodation inside the Medina, taxis and cars are not permitted within the walls.
It is preferable to discuss the price before you set off.
THIS IS A BIG TIP If you are a slow walker, look for an elderly carousa man,
The Supra Tours bus terminal is next to Bab Marrakesh. A ticket to Marrakech costs DH65, but you really need to book a day in advance as the buses are completely full with foreign tourists. The buses are non-stop and comfortable, with airconditioning.
In October 2006 there were four per day, at 6am, 12 midday, 3.30pm and 6.40pm. But you should check, as the time and frequency of buses change seasonally. The journey takes just under 4 hours and the bus drops you in front of Marrakech train station in the new city. So, if you are planning to stay in the old city, you will need to take a taxi from there, for which you should pay no more than DH15.
Essaouira is a town built for walking, and one can cycle easily in the surrounding countryside and along the coast!
The old village is surrounded by a wall which separates it from the rest of the world, including the local and very vibrant fishing harbour and expansive beach, and our strolls around the old village brought new excitement every time, as we discovered different and interesting alleyways to explore!
We were only there for 2 days and relished every moment of the peaceful character of the place, the friendliness and relaxed approach of the vendors which we compared to the frenzy and manic buzz of Marrakech. We were there in February 2007 and it was absolutely spectacular!
Don't miss the grilled fish lunch near the harbour. We paid 100 dirham each for more seafood than we could eat, together with fresh salad, bread and softdrinks. Great, great value for money!
And of course the haggling and banter in the shops was exhilarating. Get some "thuya" (say twee-ah) wood items which are sold for a song, compared to what they're worth. This rare wood from the Essaouira area is just too magnificent for words, and truly took my breath away.
Go to Essaouira!
I like to be polite and take things as they come, but....
I had booked a flight from Fes to Marrakesh. Leaving at an ungodly hour of the morning, changing at Casa. At Casa the hour wait grew to two, then three, and then the fllight was cancelled. Red is what I saw. I was full of no sleep and airport coffee. Royal Air Maroc were offering a bus to Marrakesh and (I think) some kind of refund. Not good enough: I had paid the money for time, I hadn't wanted to spend a whole day travelling. The devill whispered in my ear:
'But I had not intended to stay in Marrakesh: I had intended to travel on to Essouara that afternoon: now there would not be time....'
They gave me a chit and I rode down to Essaouira in a grande taxi, with a driver who shared my liking for Casa Sports.
Be assured that I felt so guilty over this bad behaviour that he got a massive tip.
The Supratours bus runs from the Marrakesh train station to Essaouira 3 times daily. If you do the day trip, the first bus leaves at 8:30 am in morning and return from Essaouira at 4pm. DH60 one way. Once you arrive Essaouira, go to get your return immediately as you can't do it in Marrakesh.
See more pics for the bus schedule from Essaouira to other cities and their fares. keep it handly. (as of March 2006).
The bus from Marrakesh is meant to take 2 1/2 hours but took us 3 3/4 hours there and 3 1/2 hours back. This is because the bus stops every 5 minutes to pick up or drop off every man and his dog! It was hot and uncomfortable, but thats what travellings all about, to see how it done by the locals, so i actually in a weird way enjoyed the 'long journey'.
There are better buses than the local ones, try Supratours.
Essaouira bus station is a 10min walk to centre of town, or 10dh in a cab.
We traavlled from Marrakech to Essaouira on the Supratours bus. This is more expensive than the CTM bus but it's also faster and more comfortable. It costs 55 DH per person for a single ticket and there are 3 buses a day at 8.30, 11.00 and 19.00. The journey takes from 2.5-3 hours depending on whether or net the bus stops en route.
The Supratours station in Marrakech is next to the train station and you can buy your tickets right up to departure though at busy times (mostly in summer) you may need to book in advance. You can also register you luggage for 25Dh per bag though this is not really necessary.
The Supratours stop in Essaouira is just outside Bab Marrakech. (This is different from the CTM bus stop which outside the northern gate of the medina) Return journeys to Marrakech are at 6am, 12:00 and 16:00. Also, once you arrive in Essaouira you will be met by a variety of touts offering to carry your luggage into the medina, to find you a hotel and to show you around. It's best avoid this unless you have lots of luggage or no idea where you are going - if you do use one of these guides, be sure to negotiate the price in advance.
I travelled around Morocco by my own car which was great although gave some inconveniences as well like looking for guarded parking lots (quite easy in Essaouira). Main road from Casablanca to Essaouira was of good quality with very light traffic. Well, on the way, I added to my itinerary drive on not that good (gravel/sandy) road along the Atlantic coast.
Essaouira is locted at the Atlantic Ocean Coast, 350 km (218 mi) south of Casablanca, 190 km (118 mi) north of Agadir and 175 km (109 mi) west of Marrakech.
You can get to Eassaouira by bus or shared taxi as well. The bus and taxi stations are located north of town center/downtown. I think that a shared taxi is the best and quite cheap way to get to Essaouira, more comfortable than a bus in my opinion.
Car hire in Essaouira starts from as little as 300 dirham per day, I recomend Jouhara - Car , 2 boulevard de Fes, The management are very friendly and one lady speaks good English.
I booked a daytrip to Essaouira from Marrakesh. The minibus left Marrakesh around 08h00 and we left Essaouira at 16h00. It was an easy daytrtip to do.