Sierra Leone’s beaches have been praised by many and can be seen as its’ main tourist attraction. Even though a couple have been affected by sandmining, they have been spared from commercialisation and mass-tourism and offer some of the most stunning vistas of the continent. They are desolate, quiet, peaceful and will melt the hearts even of those who hate sand.
Read on for our top-5 beaches and envision yourself sipping a rum-coconut cocktail fresh from the palm tree, eating just-caught lobster whilst enjoying the sunset or hitting the waves with surfers from all over the world.
5. Lumley Beach
Although it is not visually stunning, Lumley beach is on this list because it is where many Freetonians come to have a good time. Perfect for a sunset or sunrise run, football matches, beach volleyball or to enjoy an ice cream sold at Gigibontà’s, Nicecream, Scoops or from the Bomba ice cream sellers that go up and down the shore. Lumley beach is also home to many clubs and bars such as the Warehouse, O’Casey’s live music bar and 232 Complex. Not ideal for a swim, but perfect for blending in with the locals and enjoy the sunset. Lumley beach is in western Freetown and close to most hotels and guesthouses.
Location: Lumley beach road, Lumley, Freetown.
4. Tokeh Beach
Tokeh beach is a favourite among many to get away from the urban hustle and bustle. With its white sand, straw beach huts and long wooden pier that stretches into the sea, Tokeh feels like an escape from reality into a tropical paradise. The sea is calm, the water temperature soothing and the shore lends itself perfectly for pensive strolls.
If you want to stay the night, check out Tokeh Sands Resort or The Place. They have luxurious lodging options that are worth every dollar. You also have the opportunity to take a local fisher boat from Tokeh to Banana Island or to take a fishing trip.
Directions: Tokeh Beach is 18 miles south of central Freetown, situated next to the fishing village of Tokeh. Take public transport or talk to us about hiring a vehicle to get you there. The road is poor, so a 4-wheel drive is recommended.
3. Sussex Beach
Sussex beach is located between Lumley Beach and Tokeh beach along the Western Area Peninsula. What makes Sussex such an amazing beach to visit is the winning combination of having a riving flowing into the sea and a mangrove forests that is home to monkeys, tropical birds and (rumour has it) an alligator. You can spend the night at Florence’s Beach Resort, an Italian- Sierra Leonean getaway with excellent Italian cuisine and quality rooms. Wake up to the sound of the waves from $60 per night (including breakfast). At times you can surf at Sussex beach, and if surfing is not your thing try stand-up-paddle boarding. Both can be rented at the resort.
Directions: Take the peninsular road from Freetown, pass the Emergency hospital until you see a sign with: ‘Florence Beach Resort’.
2. Bureh Beach
Bureh beach is on a 1,5 hour ride from Freetown and loved by many because of its diversity. You can surf, swim, hike, canoe, do yoga, skate, drink palmwine, party or simply relax in a hammock and enjoy the view.
There are several enterprises located at this beach and each offers a slightly different experience for a different audience. The Rakis Beach resort is more of a hotel, Prince’s has hammocks and beach cottages and is near where the beach parties are and the Bureh Beach Surf Club has tents and rooms more geared towards water explorers.
Also here the river flows into the sea and when the tide is low you can walk all the way into the mangrove forest. Beware of the riptide and the strong currents, especially when the tide is going out.
From Freetown it takes about 1,5 hours by road. It is advised to use the Mountain Road that runs from Hill Station to York. Talk to us about renting a private vehicle, especially handy for the bumpier parts of the road.
1. River Number 2
Number one on this list is River No. 2. It is the most crowded of all beaches but wins in terms of aesthetics. The dramatic backdrop of forested mountains, white sand, the mangroves, the river that flows into the sea, the calm water and colourful fishing boats make this place a popular spot among Sierra Leoneans. This is where people celebrate their birthday, weddings or simply enjoy a day at the beach with their family. Sunday is the busiest day, so if you want to avoid crowds try going during the weekdays. Still, even when it gets busy it only takes a five-minute walk along the shore to be in absolute tranquillity. Don’t get carried away by its stunning beauty, there are some strong tides at River Number Two, especially in the river that runs into the sea.
Take the peninsular road from Freetown. It is about 10 minutes after Lakka Beach. 4-Wheel drive highly recommended as the last part of the road is bad.
Honorable Mention: The Turtle Islands
A group of eight islands off the southwest peninsular, the Turtle Islands are idyllic and are in habited by fishing communities. They are remote and hard (and potentially expensive) to get to; it can take at least 3 hours from Freetown by speedboat. If you do make it to Bonthe then we recommend chartering a speedboat from the Bonthe Holiday Village.
Directions: You can get to the Turtle Islands by boat from Freetown, Tombo, Bonthe or Yagoi. You can either travel with the locals (from Yagoi) or charter a boat from Freetown or Bonthe.
We would love to hear from you, what are your favourites?!
Esther Kamara is a Dutch-Sierra Leonean that was born and raised in Amsterdam. After finishing her bachelor Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam she moved to Freetown, where she now works as a freelance writer and artist manager. Her brainchildren are otherworldly short stories and peculiar drawings of non-existing characters.
Her contributions to the blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Visit Sierra Leone. Although she tried to be as accurate as possible, these observations are always momentarily and therefore subject to change.