Searching for sun, sand and sea? From the bustling city of Lagos in Nigeria to a slice of Paris in Côte d’Ivoire to the offshore islands of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa has undiscovered jewels that have recently come out as Africa’s best-kept secret. Here are the top 10 beach destinations in West Africa.

1. Bassam Beach, Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire’s must-visit beaches are just east of West Africa’s second-largest city, Abidjan.

With the ability to stay in the city and head out to the beaches with sunscreen and beach towel in tow, or an overnight bag to crash in one of the beachside resorts and hotels along the shoreline, Bassam Beach is an ideal place to stretch out, relax and catch some rays.

Head down the coast to Assinie, where the surf is great, and the break is consistent.

Stay at Hôtel Boblin La Mer

2. Banana Beach, São Tomé and Príncipe

The colour-soaked islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are a safe and welcoming destination to visitors who love a luscious natural scenery.

This picture-perfect, banana-shaped tropical beach has golden sands, swaying palms and a small, cosy bay inviting you in for a swim.

Once the subject of a world-famous Bacardi ad, this quiet shoreline offers clear, shallow waters great for snorkelling.

Stay at Roça Belo Monte Plantation Hotel

3. Bijagós Arquipélago, Guinea-Bissau

Often called the “Sacred treasure of Guinea-Bissau”, Bijagós Arquipélago is one of the world’s most beautiful chains of offshore islands with endangered wildlife.

Composed of 88 islands spread over an area of 10 thousand square kilometres, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is only inhabited permanently on 21 islands.

From the skies, Bijagós’ complexity reveals a picturesque set of islands, sandy bays, creeks, and islets.

Its charm lies in the walk you have to make though the livestock-dotted and beaten streets of Bubaque to visit this piece of paradise in Guinea-Bissau. The white sands of Bruce Beach offer beautiful tranquillity, and you are likely to find it almost deserted.

Stay at Bubaque Island Hotel

4. Chaves Beach, Cape Verde

Cape Verde is a chain of seaside villages, 10 islands and striking scenery provided by the mountains. Also known as Cabo Verde, Cape Verde’s main attraction is the ability to island-hop across a cluster of islands known as the Barlavento Trio islands (Sal, São Vicente and Santo Antão).

If you are looking for an unspoilt beach, the remote Chaves beach on Boa Vista island is worth the dream. The spectacular stretch of curvy, wind-carved sand dunes run down into the Atlantic while Chaves beach offers isolation at its best as you bask in the aquamarine waters.

Stay at Iberostar Club Boa Vista Hotel

Guinee Bissau, Bijagos archipelago listed as Reserves Biosphere by the UNESCO, Imbone island, National park of Orango

5. Kokrobite, Ghana

Located only a 45-minute drive from Accra, Ghana’s capital city, Kokrobite Beach has a long, stunning stretch of white sand beaches providing authentic beach experiences for travellers who are up for a social scene filled with good food, good music and good people.

Kokrobite Beach carries the same vibe of Accra – think fresh street food, including roasted plantains and yams, and vendors eager to convince you to buy another souvenir.

Pick up a surfboard to take on the consistent waves, pop into the water for a swim, or enjoy the ample beachfront and relax in the sun.

Stay at Kokrobite Garden Resort

6. Curralinho Beach, Cape Verde

Located on the stunning shoreline of Boa Vista island, Curralinho Beach is undoubtedly one of Cape Verde’s best beaches. The ocean is warm, the current is minimal, the diving is spectacular, and the waves are perfect for surfing. Life swings to the rhythm of the tide and wind-tickled shores. This is the water therapy you signed up for.

Stay at Royal Horizons Boa Vista

7. Kotu Beach, The Gambia

The finger-shaped land of The Gambia offers an innumerable array of spectacular wildlife, beautiful sandy beaches, and vibrant culture.

Known as “the smiling coast” for its friendly people, there is something enigmatic about them – as if they are inviting you to discover how beautiful The Gambia is.

Its scenic lagoons are a great destination that can easily satisfy both the adventurous traveller and the relaxation traveller.

Spend your beach days on Kotu Beach, which sits along the 80 kilometres or 50 miles of Atlantic coastline and is considered a shining gem with a wide-open stretch of sand on the edge of Serrekunda, lined with palm trees and mellow beach bars.

Stay at African Princess Beach Hotel

A boat on Kotu beach in The Gambia, West Africa

8. N’Gor Island, Senegal

The tiny yet vibrant N’Gor Island is just a 10-minute boat ride off the coast of Dakar, Senegal.

Home to the most famous surf break in the country, the N’Gor Right, this epic wave featured in the 1966 classic surf movie The Endless Summer but despite its fame, it remains relatively uncrowded.

From the friendly locals to fresh meals to surf lessons, the island is a paradise idyll well worth exploring. The island is a colourful haven for artists, surfers, and anyone looking for a quick getaway from city life.

Stay at Pullman Dakar Teranga Hotel

9. Cap Skirring, Senegal

The coastal jewel of Casamance has some of Senegal’s loveliest beaches. Dune vegetation on one side and the corduroy waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Cap Skirring is one of the best beaches of Casamance.

Located on the far south of the country, the area has an abundance of surf camps with vacant beaches perfect for finding your prime sunbathing spot.

Want to get further away from it all? Take a taxi ride to the white beach of Boucotte.

Stay at Hôtel Katakalousse

10. Grand-Popo, Benin

Situated halfway between Lomé, Togo and Cotonou, Benin (80 kilometres on both ends), the beach town of Grand-Popo offers tranquil moments rich in natural abundance.

Featuring an uncrowded, splendid coastline lined with coconut trees, lulled sounds of waves of the Atlantic Ocean, a salty sea breeze, a rich culture and traditions are the major attractions in this town.

The Grand-Popo beach offers more than just a relaxed environment. You can board a pirogue, visit lakeside villages, discover the riches of the mangrove, or take a small trip to explore the fishing route for artisanal fishing.

Stay at Hôtel Awalé Plage

Wherever you decide to go, let SAA get you there. Book your tickets today!

Words by Uyapo Ketogetswe