Beach + Island

Totally Active Beaches

by Sarah Tuff

KISS THE SKY

The Sport: Kiteboarding

The Arena: Essaouira, Morocco

Your Adventure: Imagine a section of Marrakesh's mysterious medina moved 100 miles west, next to the sea, and you're picturing the ancient town of Essaouira, where the smells of couscous and lamb mingle with the scent of ocean spray. Old and new influences intermesh here, especially as you look past the docked fishing boats to a newer type of seagoing, er, apparatus. Essaouira's steady but gentle 20-plus-knot winds are ideal for kiteboarding, and the rock-free bottom and current-less bay make for a safe learning environment. The instructors at Club Mistral—a full-service shop in the middle of Essaouira's two-mile-long beach—will start you on the sand to learn the particulars of kite control before sending you into the brisk sea. After several hours, you might graduate to a board. (Might is a key word: It isn't as easy as it looks.) Retire for the day at L'Heure Bleue Palais, a restored riad whose 16 rooms and 19 suites are done up in a variety of sumptuous African colonial styles. The Relais & Châteaux hotel also offers spa treatments at its hammam. You'll need one after fighting a kite all day.

Club Mistral
Tel: 49 881 925 4960
Six hours of private instruction, with equipment, $247

L'Heure Bleue Palais
Tel: 212 24 78 3434
Doubles from $355

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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