With its idyllic coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone is home to some of the most breathtaking and unspoiled beaches in West Africa. From remote coves with powdery white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters, to livelier beaches just minutes away from the centre of Freetown, there’s truly a beach for everyone in Sierra Leone. Narrowing down the 5 best beaches in Sierra Leone is a formidable challenge, and that’s not even including remote locations like the Turtle Islands, home to the most pristine beaches in the country. We’ve tried our best, contacted friends and family and came up with this selection of 5 amazing beaches – all within day-trip distance from Freetown!
Beach Getaway: Top 5 Beaches in Sierra Leone
1. Tokeh Beach
Nestled along the Freetown Peninsula, Tokeh Beach is renowned for its pristine shoreline and clear azure waters. The beach is wide and sandy and stretches for over a mile, inviting visitors to bask in the sun or take a leisurely stroll. The beach is surrounded by lush rainforest, completing the picture-perfect scenario. For its beauty, Tokeh Beach was home to luxurious resorts ever since before the Civil War. After a hiatus, two resorts opened again on this wonderful stretch of coast – Tokeh Beach Resort with accommodation available for all budgets, and The Place at Tokeh, the most exclusive place to stay in the country. Tokeh is worth visiting for a weekend away from Freetown – make sure you splash on a candlelit dinner at the wonderful seafood restaurant at The Place, even if you’re not staying there.
2. River N.2 Beach
Just 20 minutes walk away from Tokeh beach, this offbeat paradise is the perfect alternative to the upmarket resorts mentioned above. River N.2 Beach is run by a community association, offering accommodation, meals and even a handicraft market in this peaceful retreat away from the bustling city. The beach is located near the estuary of River N.2, dividing it into two parts, with locals ferrying visitors between the two sides. On the south, there’s a lagoon created by the river estuary, perfect for the most inexperienced swimmers. Confident swimmers can brave the Atlantic waves, always remembering to exercise caution. This beach is popular with locals during the weekends, but on weekdays it’s really quiet – make sure you plan your visit accordingly!
At Bunce Island you can still see ruins of the fort, including the sleeping quarters and the ‘Door of No Return’. The island is uninhabited, and nature is slowly creeping back onto the ruined buildings. The only way to visit is with a guide, who will illustrate the history of the place – it’s a moving experience, but a must to understand this dark chapter.
3. John Obey Beach
Situated on the outskirts of Freetown, John Obey Beach captivates visitors with its unspoiled natural beauty and calm ambience. This scenic beach is also perfect for those who are just learning how to swim, since just like River N.2, a river estuary creates a lagoon. If you look at an image of the beach from above, you’ll see the beach looks like a sandbank, with the lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other, surrounded by rainforest and coconut palms. John Obey is also worth visiting if you’re an eco-conscious traveller, since it’s home to the Estuary Resort, a Sierra Leonean-owned eco resort offering accommodation in wooden cabanas. There are also paddle boats for rent to visit the lagoon in an eco friendly manner!
4. Bureh Beach
For those seeking a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, Bureh Beach is a must-visit destination. Located on the Freetown Peninsula, just south of John Obey, Bureh Beach is a hub for surfers, with consistent waves and surf schools offering lessons for beginners. Due to its popularity with the surf crowd, Bureh Beach is a place where you can experience the vibrant local culture through lively beach parties, traditional drumming sessions, and mouthwatering seafood barbecues. If you’re looking for a secluded cove to go swimming, Bureh is probably not a good choice, since the sand is quite coarse and the swells make swimming difficult.
5. Lumley Beach
Welcome to Freetown’s own city beach! Lumley may not win any prizes as the most picturesque beach in Sierra Leone, being just minutes away from the city centre, but it’s definitely one of the places to be if you’re looking for atmosphere and local life. Lumley Beach stretches from Aberdeen to the Lumley river estuary, about 5 km south. It’s lined by hotels for all budgets and a variety of restaurants – but it’s after sunset that the area truly comes to life, with live music and jam sessions at the beach clubs, and people partying till early morning. Lumley is also a popular destination for sport lovers – it’s one of the best places in town to go running, and there are also volleyball and basketball courts, popular with young locals especially during the weekends.