A favourite of surfers ever since the 1990s, Bureh beach is a 4 km crescent of golden sand surrounded by forest and with great waves thanks to the regular winds. The beach is named after Bai Bureh, a village chief and independence leader who led the Hut Tax rebellion against the British colonizers.
Bureh beach is only 5 km from Kent, the town on the tip of the Freetown Peninsula where boats to the Banana Islands depart from. From Freetown, it takes about 1 hour and a half to reach Bureh beach by private car or taxi, or it’s possible to take a poda poda (shared minibus) to Waterloo and then change to a shared taxi. This option may take several hours so it’s only advisable if you are planning to spend the night or continue onwards to the Banana Islands.
Bureh beach is a long stretch of golden coloured sand in the vicinities of the town of the same name, in the southern part of the Freetown Peninsula. Unlike other beaches further north, winds are frequent, creating perfect waves and surfing conditions. The beach looks and feels a little wild and less picture-perfect compared to Tokeh or River No.2 – the sand a little more coarse, and the regular swells make swimming difficult. However, walking up and down the length of the beach, you’ll notice rocks framing quieter coves and rock pools where it’s possible to have a little splash, always exercising caution.
Surfing is the number 1 activity at Bureh Beach, popular with tourists, locals and Freetown expats. The surf scene is very low-key here – locals started surfing using driftwood and broken canoes, until an Irishman named Shane O’Connor opened a surf club with donations from NGO and surfing brands. Over a decade later, the surf club is still active, and Bureh locals offer surfing lessons, rent out boards and cook meals for surfers returning from a day riding the waves. Surfing in Bureh is a great way to have fun while empowering the local community – the International Surfing Association has sponsored 12 youths so far, with surfing and schooling scholarships.
There are several hotels and simple guesthouses in Bureh within walking distance to the surf club. One of the best rated is Lumthubul Gardens, with secluded bungalows and huts right on the beach, and simple home-cooked meals. Other accommodation options include GEM Beach Resort, set back from the beach, and Saful Resort, a couple of km north of Bureh town in a quiet section of the beach.