No vaccinations are required for Morocco. There are very few mosquitoes in Essaouira so anti-malaria tablets are not necessary (though if you spend time on the beach, especially during summer evenings, the odd sandfly bite is a possibility). Morocco does not have any reciprocal health care agreements so it is advisable to have travel insurance. There is a small hospital in Essaouira, plus numerous excellent pharmacies clearly marked with a green cross.
The official language in Morocco is classical Arabic but the locals generally converse in a distinct dialect which is usually referred to as Moroccan Arabic. Many people, especially in rural areas, speak Berber, either as a first language or bilingually with the Arabic dialect. French is widely understood and is the usual language for communicating with foreigners. English, while still far behind French (and Spanish in the North) is rapidly becoming the European language of choice among the educated youth. If you want to learn some Moroccan Arabic we can recommend Lonely Planet’s Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook and Survival Phrases Arabic. You can download the latter’s first 10 lessons as a free podcast – great listening to on the plane!
Opening hours are very variable. Banks are usually open from 08:30 - 11:30 and 14:30 - 16:30 Monday to Friday. Large shops tend to open between 09:00 - 13:00 and 15:00 - 19:00 Monday to Saturday. Small shops in the medina may not open until about 10:00 but often stay open until quite late.
New Year's day: 1 January
Attestation d'Independance day: 11 January
Labour Day: 1 May
Feast of the Throne: 30 July
Allegiance Day: 14 August
Day of the Green March: 6 November
Independence Day: 18 November