The best beaches in Sierra Leone

Each beach has a character and style of its own, from the colour of its sand to the quality of its waves.

The best beaches in Sierra Leone are among some of West Africa’s most enchanting. Nestled along the shores of this dynamic country, spots like John Obey and Lumley Beach invite travellers to explore a different side to Sierra Leone, one characterised by crystal-clear waters and pristine white sands.

Whether you’re seeking a thrilling watersports adventure or quiet moments of introspection, the beaches of Sierra Leone cater to every taste.

The best beaches in Sierra Leone: what you need to know 

Trying to do justice to the coast of Sierra Leone is like quoting an Elizabeth Barrett Browning sonnet: ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ Each beach has a character and style of its own, from the colour of its sand to the quality of its waves, keeping even the most easily bored beachgoer striving for a new stretch of sunny, sultry, swim-friendly perfection. 

There is no bad time to travel to Sierra Leone, but if you want to avoid the rain, it’s best to visit in dry season. Stretching from November to April, this is the sweet-spot for travellers seeking sun-kissed days and balmy evenings.

For now, devoid of mass tourism, the beaches here are wild, spacious and feel a world away from the high rise developments that usually ruin most stretches of prime ocean real estate. So which is the one for you? Join us on a journey around the best beaches in Sierra Leone and start planning your next adventure. 

Find our more about how to travel to Sierra Leone here.

The best beaches in Sierra Leone

Blue sky over River Number Two, best beaches in Sierra Leone
Spend a playful day in the waters of River Number Two © National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone 

River Number Two 

Shallow, crystal-clear waters give this beach the hypnotic, inviting turquoise hues we have come to expect of paradise. Here the sea is swim-perfect, with not even a hint of rock; a slow, steady drop-off and, close to the shore, gentle waves.

And the location is difficult to top: flush against the hills, a seasonal river (known as No 2) meets the sea, creating a lagoon dotted with paint-peeling wooden boats. At weekends it is the populist pièce de résistance with every seat taken, but during the week you can virtually have the place to yourself. 

Orange sand on John Obey beach in Sierra Leone
The dramatic mountain backdrop and burnished sands make John Obey beach one of the most stunning in Sierra Leone © Katrina Manson

John Obey

One of the most stunning of the bunch and almost too pretty to share is sleepy little John Obey. This Sierra Leone beach became a minor media sensation in the late noughties, scoring features on a host of major media outlets thanks to an ambitious ecotourism scheme known as Tribewanted.

Alas, the people behind the project have upped stakes and moved on, but the beach they’ve left behind remains the charmer it has always been. To the north, an impressive mountain backdrop descends to a river that runs behind the beach, effectively turning it into a permanent sandbar. 

This sandy spot is the ideal choice for travellers seeking picture-perfect views with their beach day.

Palm Trees on one of the Turtle Islands in Sierra Leone
Look out for sea turtles when swimming around the bathtub-like waters © Katrina Manson

Turtle Islands

The stuff castaway movies are made of: eight tiny islands form the Turtle Islands, an undeveloped archipelago thrown across the Atlantic just off the western shore of Sherbro Island. Each one is a slice of pure, bright sand sat amid breath-taking azure, framed by sighing palms silhouetted against a hazy blue sky.

The waters around the islands are usually clear and flat, like a pleasantly warm bath, slowly ebbing away from the sandy shores into shallow waters. By day huddle up with a book, go looking for dolphins or don your snorkel. Come night-time, bed down around a campfire with tall tales. Whatever you do, have no doubt that blissful indolence is your friend.

Rocky water at Bureh Beach, Sierra Leone


Surf’s up at Bureh beach. Among the few spots along the Peninsula where you can enjoy a good burst of waves, this is a well-established favourite. It’s still fairly empty bar Sundays, which are popular with picnicking Lebanese families.

Mountain-backed, the sea retreats a long way at low tide, exposing a broad stretch of deep ochre sand fringed by palm trees. Many have been beguiled by the surfing, and there are several local surf crews who know the breaks well. While good waves aren’t guaranteed, the occasional triumph of hope over expectation makes it a magical spot.

Recommended reading: the best beaches in Lithuania.

Sussex Beach

With a long, empty golden shoreline stretching in either direction, Sussex is a much-loved favourite. To reach the sea, you have to wade through a thick goo of sand, mud and sucking oil, part of an inlet that rises briskly with the tide (so much so that wading through might easily become swimming). On the other bank is a stretch of steep sand that drops away quickly under the water.

The beach is best enjoyed at sundown or first thing in the morning, although the tiny children and yapping dogs can be quite persistent followers, so more fun to join in with their tricks and laughter than to try and ignore them. Just before dinner, as the sun sets out above the ocean, it’s one of the most romantic places in the country.

Mohamed Kallon playing football on Lumley Beach in Sierra Leone
Retired professional footballer Mohamed Kallon plays a match on Lumley Beach © Katrina Manson 

Lumley Beach

Much of life in Sierra Leone takes place on Freetown’s Lumley Beach. The waters aren’t great for swimming in, with a lot of waste from the capital ending up here, but the length of the 5km beach road is abundant in beach bars, shacks and restaurants. The people-watching is also great, with fisherman heading out to sea, sports games taking place, local families relaxing and joggers pounding the pavement.

The national football team practises here every Sunday. Any day of the week is good for a sundowner and a bite, but Sundays after dark sees not only the beach but also the road crammed with preening youths keen to strut their stuff on the sand and at the noisier bars.

Aerial view of Banana Island, best beaches in Sierra Leone
Banana Island is a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the waters via all manner of aquatic activities © National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone  

Banana Island

Banana Island is actually three islands connected by a makeshift bridge of rocks and it is perfect getaway territory – a place for moon-gazing, storytelling and general mooching. Visitors can stay at Bafa Resort right on the beach of the same name, and sleep in luxury tents or just a hammock under the stars.

Plenty of watersports are available and activities like snorkelling, spearfishing, deep-sea fishing and kayaking can all be easily arranged by the owners.

Consider yourself a watersports enthusiast? Check out our guide to snorkelling in the Galapagos.

Palm trees line the coast along Tokeh, best beaches in Sierra Leone

Tokeh Beach

Home to the whitest sands on the Peninsula, Tokeh was once the playground of French tourists at the now-derelict Africana resort, where visitors would chopper in direct from the airport.

There are long-standing plans to reincarnate Tokeh’s glory days as a tourist hub, with the breezy ‘The Place’ resort leading the way. The rest of the village remains a hodgepodge of humble homes, fishermen’s shacks, and half-finished hotels spread out along several kilometres of utterly stunning sand.

Head for the more secluded southerly end of the beach to enjoy the water and soak up the spectacular view back north to River Number Two, with its trademark mountain jungle hunched behind.

Lakka Beach

Some beaches manage aloof and exclusive, others stunning yet populist. This is a very democratic sort of offering – close to town, with a good range of eating and sleeping spots.

Lakka is not blindingly beautiful by Peninsula standards but it is well established, with a reassuringly predictable tranquillity: a trusted best friend rather than a lover who steals your heart. Ideal if you don’t have much time or your own transport, but want to set your eyes on a healthy swathe of sun, sea and sand. The best swimming is towards the southern end, away from fishermen, rocks and diesel spills, and nearer to St Michael’s Lodge, once a fancy arched hotel that has long said goodbye to its touristic ways, and now schools former combatants and local children.

More information

For more information, check out our guide to Sierra Leone.

If you’re considering booking a trip, the Sierra Leone Tourist Board website contains lots of useful travel tips and advice.