TUCKING INTO LOBSTER ON A BEACH BESIDE LAPPING WAVES, UNDER A LAZY, HAZY SUN:it’s about as picture-postcard perfect a holiday moment as many could imagine. What you – and possibly the rest of the world’s 922 million tourists – would not imagine, however, is that this is a scene in Sierra Leone.
The tiny west African country might attract only 4,000 visitors a year at present, but there’s plenty for them to get up to. Just south of the capital Freetown, founded in 1787 as a home for freed slaves, a swathe of swim-perfect sea stretches out for 40 kilometres along the peninsula coast, each cove offering up a hidden beach with its own distinctive qualities. For example, while John Obey’s beach is home to a thick ochre sand, River No 2’s sands are fine white, York beach is lead-grey and the sweep at Bureh reveals a mountain-backed crescent beside the Atlantic. Almost all are united by their very emptiness.