Sierra Leone has many beautiful beaches along the Freetown Peninsula and on the islands off its coastline. Some say these are some of the best in West Africa and I could not agree more. Lying on the sometimes empty Tokeh beach and snipping drinks was one of my favourite things to do when I was in Sierra Leone.
The best bit is that most of these pristine sandy beaches are not too far from the capital. Lumely and Levuma Beach are right in Freetown while Lakka and River No. 2 Beach is a further down the coast. Plus you also have the beaches on Banana Island, Turtle Island and Tasso Island off the coastline which are worth a visit too.
Dublin Island Beach; Banana Islands
Best Beaches in Sierra Leone
Spending a day or two at the beach relaxing or enjoying water sports is the perfect addition to any Sierra Leone itinerary. As I said I was lucky enough to go to a few of the beaches and go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. I felt very safe when visiting all of the beaches in Sierra Leone. Most of them were relaxing and had a mix of locals and tourists.
Here are my top 10 best beaches in Sierra Leone West Africa to visit along the coast and on the islands.
1. Lumley Beach Freetown
Lumley Beach Freetown is a vibrant stretch of beach that is full of restaurants, lively bars and clubs. It is popular with Sierra Leoneans, ex-pats and tourists because of its location near the centre of Freetown. Lumley is known for the lively restaurants, bars and clubs that line the beach.
During the day you will find people playing football, beach volleyball, jogging and hanging out with friends. In the afternoons, it’s a great spot to people watch, enjoy the sunset and relax over a few drinks with dinner. The bars and clubs are relatively quiet during the week but on the weekends they come alive.
One of the best restaurants in Lumley Beach and in Freetown is Roy’s, which is also a popular spot for drinks. In the evenings we would go to Roy’s restaurant, where we would watch the sunset, have drinks and relax over dinner.
The hotels along Lumley beach road are a great base for exploring the Sierra Leone attractions due to their proximity to the city centre. We stayed at Roy’s hotel and I had a lovely view of Lumley Beach from my room.
Sunset at Roy’s on Lumley Beach Freetown
2. Levuma Beach, Freetown
Levuma Beach is also located in Freetown not too far away from Lumley. This kilometer long sandy beach has restaurants and bars scatted along it with most having large decks to take in the views. Many locals come here to play sports along the water like volleyball and football.
This is a good place to come for seafood and drinks while watching the sunset. The best way to get to it from central Freetown is by Keke (West African tuk-tuk). We stopped briefly at Walla Beach Bar which was right on the beach and had a huge deck. It was nice watching all the people walking and jogging by.
3. Lakka Beach
Lakka Beach Sierra Leone is a golden sandy beach that stretches just 1.5 km long and curves slightly. At one end there is a little island just off the foreshore, which reminded me of one in Zanzibar. Its calm waters attract people wanting to go swimming, snorkelling and fishing.
It has a good selection of restaurants and bars along the waterfront that have a chilled atmosphere about them. They are ideal if you are looking for fresh seafood, like lobsters, king prawns, fish or even octopus. Lakka Beach is not only popular but one of the best beaches in Sierra Leone.
Lakka Beach is located only 10 km south of Lumley Beach and just a short drive from Freetown. Apart from the delicious seafood, it is the perfect spot for beach pictures with the island as your backdrop. We only stopped here for a short time but from what I saw of it, I really liked it. There are also guesthouses like Lakka Beach Resort if you want to stay overnight.
Walking along the Lakka Beach Sierra Leone
4. Tokeh Beach
Tokeh Beach is a stunning squeaky clean sandy white beach popular with foreigners for beach holidays. There even used to be a helipad for tourists to go directly from the airport and Freetown before the civil war. There is no denying it is a piece of ‘paradise with its pristine sandy beaches and its clear water.
No wonder why Tohkeh Beach offers the best beach resorts in Sierra Leone with them all being located right on the waterfront. I stayed at Tokeh beach resort, and it was the perfect way to end our week travelling in Sierra Leone. I sunbathed on the beach, went swimming and drank cocktails while watching the sunset and ate lobster. We literally had the beach to ourselves.
I visited The Place Resort Sierra Leone’s premier beach resort for a seafood lunch at the onsite waterfront restaurant. Tokeh Beach is located about an hour’s drive from Freetown on the Atlantic coast. Even if you don’t stay here, it is well worth a visit just to sit on the beach and have a drink taking it all in.
Tokeh Beach along the Freetown Peninsula Sierra Leone
5. Sussex Beach
Sussex Beach is a white sandy beach with a lagoon and Mangrove forest. Some of the beach is behind a sand bar so when the tide is in the water is calm. It is considered one of the best beaches in Freetown for going snorkelling and diving. There is a well establish diving club here that was set up in the 1960s by an Italian man Franco and his Sierra Leonean wife.
They also have an adjoining restaurant and beach hotel, known as Florence (Or Franco’s) Resort, which is said to have the best Italian food in Sierra Leone. Sussex Beach is located just outside the capital city of Freetown and just a few kms from River Number 2 Beach. Just like Tohken beach resort, it is also a great spot for sunsets and cocktails.
6. River No. 2 Beach
River No. 2 Beach, yes that’s its name, is a stunning beach with pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters. The beach is on a lagoon, with the adjoining River No. 2 on one side and Tokeh Beach on the other. At high tide, a small boat takes you across from Tokeh beachside.
The beach area is run by community tourism and offers a number of restaurants, bars and beach clubs. There is even a small market that sells local products to visitors. It is a great spot if you want to pick up a few Sierra Leone souvenirs. I had an amazing lobster here that melted in my mouth from the Sankofa complex run by the community.
River No. 2 Beach is located along the Freetown Peninsula and is one of the best beaches in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leonens like to come here for day trips and to party on the weekends. If you want to stay longer there are guesthouses available at River No. 2 Beach or at Tokeh Beach, which is just 20 minute’s walk away, along the beach. Don’t forget to take your beach towel with you.
River No. 2 Beach is one of the best beaches near Freetown
7. Bureh Beach
Bureh Beach Sierra Leone is the number one spot to go surfing in the country. The secluded white sandy beach attracts backpackers, surfers and fitness people. You will find a surf school and club with accommodation if you want to learn how to surf and meet people or rent a board. There is also a couple of shops, restaurants and bars to hang out in.
Guesthouses and bungalows are available at Bureh Beach, which is situated right on the oceanfront. They are perfect if you love listening to the ocean at night to relax. It has a laid-back and peaceful feel about it, making it perfect for those looking to escape the crowds.
Bureh Beach is located at the southern end of the Freetown Peninsula and is only an hour and a half drive from the capital. It is a good base to travel to other beaches like Kent and York or to even Banana Island. Additionally, this is also a great beach to stay at if you are on a budget.
Bureh Beach along the Freetown Peninsula Sierra Leone
Best Sierra Leone Island Beaches
8 Tasso Island Beach
Tasso Island and Beach is a popular tourist destination, run by the Tasso eco-tourism project created by the locals. It is located in the Sierra Leone River Estuary near Bunce Island. Here you can enjoy seafood and beers, on the beach from Baobab restaurant or indulge in some watersports.
The Eco Camp is open to visitors from September to the end of May every year and also offers accommodation if you want to stay. The basic huts are directly on the beach and you can hear the ocean at night while you sleep. Tasso Island is only a speed boat ride from Freetown and is a great day trip combined with Bunce Island.
Remember to take your insect repellent, to protect you from any bites that might occur.
Grilled fish and beers at Tasso Island Beach in Freetown
9. Banana Island, Dublin Island
Banana Islands comprise three islands, Dublin, Ricketts and Mes-Meheux. The main island Dublin is a popular day trip from Freetown for both Sierra Leoneans and foreigners in the summer. The group of islands are located southwest of the Freetown Peninsula in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. They are known for their beautiful beaches and clear waters.
Visitors come here to Dublin Island to relax on the beach, have a few beers (or cocktails), do water sports and go swimming. Diving and fishing can be enjoyed here too. There are several beaches scattered around Dublin Island that can be accessed with the main ones being at Bafa Resort and Daltons Banana Guesthouse.
The island was once used as a base for slave traders during colonial times. Today, visitors can explore the island and take in the history and see the ruins including a fort, canons and a cemetery. I spent a night glamping on the oceanfront at Bafa Resort, I swam, drank cocktails, ate fresh seafood, watched the sunrise and sunset and hiked around the island.
To get to Banana Islands, it’s an hour’s drive from Freetown to Kent Village. Then from there, it is a 45 minute boat ride to Dublin Island depending on the sea conditions. If you have the time, definitely add Banana Islands to your Sierra Leone itinerary.
The beach at Bafa Resort Dublin Banana Islands
10. Turtle Island
Turtle Islands are a group of 8 small isolated islands in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Sherbro Island. These picturesque islands are surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches, palm trees and mangroves. They are a real tropical paradise with sea life, coral reefs, shipwrecks and even green sea turtles, which make the islands their home between November and April. It is a popular spot for snorkelling offshore and scuba diving, like in Takarka Tunisia.
The sheer remoteness of Turtle Islands makes it almost completely untouched by tourism. Meaning you will have the beaches pretty much all to yourself to enjoy. In fact, the islands are uninhabited apart from a small fishing village that offers basic accommodation to visitors at the Baki guesthouse. You will have to take everything with you like snorkelling gear, sunscreen and a towel.
Getting there is a mission though, it’s a half a day drive to Yagoi where you catch your first boat. Then you get an hour’s boat right from there to Bonthe on Sherbro Island. Before taking another 3 hour boat ride to Turtle Island depending on sea conditions. You can also get there from Banana Island which is a little further.
While it is no easy feat getting there, Turtle Islands beaches are worth a visit and if you are lucky you will even see dolphins on your boat ride. I suggest staying at least a night due to the distance.
Turtle Islands: Pic provided by Sierra Leone Tourism
Best time to visit the beaches in Sierra Leone
The best time to visit Sierra Leone and its beaches is from November to April during the dry season. January to February tends to be the hottest months. I went in late January and the weather ranged from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius. The heat was dry and even though it was hot, I was still comfortable.
May to October is the wet season and many tourism businesses like beach resorts close during this time. The businesses on the islands are also closed to the ocean being too rough to cross. Plus the rural roads can become very muddy and horrible to travel on.
Tips for visiting the Sierra Leone beaches
Getting to the Sierra Leone beaches
It can be challenging to get around beaches in Sierra Leone and the ones in Freetown on your own. For places like Banana Island or the beaches on Turtle Island, where it is hard to get to I suggest getting a guide. You can also go with a tour company, who can deal with all the necessary travel arrangements.
Beaches in Freetown like Lumley and Levuma that are close to the city, I suggest getting a Keke, known in Southeast Asia as tuk-tuks. We went with VSL and our guide for the week was Abdulai, he was great. He was informative and had extensive knowledge of the history of Sierra Leone. Don’t forget to take your GoPro and microfiber travel towel with you.
Vaccine required to enter Sierra Leone
Proof of Yellow fever and Covid vaccine certificates are required upon entry into Sierra Leone. Check with your local country’s official website to see if there are any other requirements you might need like malaria tablets. You can also check here for free for all the required documents for Sierra Leone and apply for your visa.
River No. 2 Beach Best Beach in Sierra Leone
Language spoken at Sierra Leone beaches
English is the official language of the population and wildly spoken at Sierra Leone beaches and tourist destinations. However, a large portion speaks the Krio language natively, or as a second language. Some beaches in Sierra Leone also speak French.
The ‘New‘ Leone currency of Sierra Leone
The currency in Sierra Leone has recently changed to the ‘New’ Leone. It is a closed currency meaning that you can only get it once you’re in the country. There are two main options to obtain the New Leones from either the ATMs at Freetown international airport Lungi. Or take US, Euro or GBP currency with you and exchange it when you get there.
⇒ Check all required documents for Sierra Leone here for free and apply for your visa.
Find more information and learn about my travels in this amazing African country here.
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Have you been to the beaches in Sierra Leone before? Are there any other beaches in Sierra Leone, should I add?
Disclaimer: Even though I was a guest of the Sierra Leone Tourism. All views are my own and based on my own experience.