Surf’s up

10/08/2016 16:39

Written by Bradt Travel Guides

If someone asked you to name the best surf spot in the world, West Africa might not be the first place that springs to mind. However, the countries along this stretch of the Atlantic coast have gradually begun to attract visitors with their warm waters, steady winds and deserted beaches – prime conditions for catching a good wave. 

Ghana

Surfing Busua Beach Ghana by Michal Vogt Wikimedia CommonsBusua Beach – one of Ghana's surfing hotspots © Michal Vogt, Wikimedia Commons 

If you are looking to explore uncrowded surf with loads of curious and friendly local spectators then Ghana is the place for you. Although the 1960s movie Endless Summer placed Ghana on the surfers’ world map, up until a few years ago there was only the occasional intrepid surfer in the country. Even today, you can generally surf anywhere in the country with absolutely no-one else in the water. Kokrobite, Busua and Cape Three Points all provide good rides, and Beyin, a spot you won’t find in any surf guide, is a must for beginners, which on swell less than 4ft presents A-frames that will have you wishing for more daylight and less sunburn.

Cape Verde

Surfing Sal Cape Verde by Marco Muscara© Marco Muscara 

With 965km of coastline, spotted with reefs and points and steady wind throughout the year, Cape Verde’s reputation as an international surfing destination is growing. The water is warm and the swell from the open Atlantic, during the winter, can be big. The Barlavento – the islands in the north – are in the best position for winter surf, while the Sotavento – southern islands – pick up summer, tropical swells and swells from far away in the south Atlantic.

Senegal

Dakar is the place to head  in Senegal if you want to catch the waves. The various surf schools in Ngor and Yoff should be your first stop if you’re looking to hang ten, and all offer individual lessons as well as multi-session introductory courses. Beginners should try Somone – it isn’t known as one of Senegal’s surfing hotspots, but for that very reason Secret Bay is a fabulous place to get your board skills down without worrying about getting knocked down by a roller.

Equatorial Guinea

Much of Equatorial Guinea’s coastline faces directly out onto the Atlantic Ocean, so there is definitely surf out there. The trick is being able to find it and then access it. June, July and August are your best bets for finding waves, as during this time large low-pressure systems from the south travel up Africa’s western coastline and deliver regular southwesterly and westerly swell. Two locations known to the international surf community are Nacho on the very southern tip of Bioko island, and Caracas on the east coast just north of Riaba.

São Tomé and Príncipe

Praia Inhame Principe Sao Tome by Marco MuscaraPraia Inhame is just one of STP's beautiful beaches © Marco Muscara

So far, few surfers have made it to São Tomé and Príncipe, although a handful of French and US surfers started exploring the islands in the 1990s, provoking the glee of fascinated local kids joining them on wooden floats around Ilhéu das Rolas and Porto Alegre. Summer, the so-called gravana between June and September, and August in particular, has the best swell, while February/March time also works. The predominantly southerly wind works its way along the coast, flattening the waves, and the best time in the day to surf is either early in the morning. The south and west coast are the best bet for waves, including the sweeping southern beaches of Micondó, Sete Ondas and Praia Grande, and Ilhéu das Rolas.


Throughout July we are showcasing Ghana as our Destination of the Month.

Grab your surfboard and explore with our guides: 

Equatorial Guinea the Bradt GuideSao Tome and Principe the Bradt GuideSenegal the Bradt Guide

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Post Comments

Shawn Reed posted on 16/10/2018 09:36
I surved in both Yoff Beach in Dakar and Porte Alegre in Sao Tome. They have boards you can rent in both places. The place to rent in Porto Alegre is a surf club that uses donated surfboards (bring one to donate). I was quite impressed with their club as it enabled all the locals to be able to surf if they want to. The locals lives are greatly enriched with in my opinion with the possibility to surf. When I asked how long I can rent my board for in Porte Alegre, I was told, "no one else is going to come and rent it so you can use it as long as you want to. They wanted a five dollar donation but gave more as I am impressed with what they are doing (allowing people in the community to surf). Lovely place.

You should also include Robertsport Liberia in your article. They have a growing surf scene in that seaside village. When I surfed there it wasn't great but I am sure it can be good. I rented a board from a local. There is some sort of surf school you can stay at there but it was to expensive for me so I camped at the Cotton tree beach for $5 a night instead.

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