Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone 4


Tired of overdeveloped beach resorts? Hate it when you turn up at a beach, only to find the sand hidden beneath endless rows of banana chairs and overfed tourists? Find yourself hankering for a simple, pared-back, beach holiday? Then the beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, in Sierra Leone, might be for you.

Bureh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Bureh Beach. Sierra Leone. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

The beaches of the Freetown Peninsula might look idyllic, but they come with a few hazards that first-time travellers to Sierra Leone ought to mindful of, including dangerous rips and fast-flowing rivers, the presence of dog hookworm (the eggs of the hookworm are present in dog faeces and lie dormant in the sand; if you tread on the eggs with bare feet you might end up with an outbreak of worms in your feet, which is both unsightly and painful; it’s easily avoided by wearing flip-flops), presence of mango fly (read more here), presence of litter and sewerage in the water, and the presence of crocodiles!

Lumley Beach

Lumley Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Lumley Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Lumley Beach, the most northerly beach on the peninsula, is located in west Freetown on the periphery of the capital city. It’s about 5km in length, it’s popular with locals and expats throughout the day and the night, and can be incredibly busy with a fun, carnivalesque atmosphere on weekends.

The beachfront is lined with bars, restaurants, ice creameries, and night clubs. There is a wide promenade for strolling and jogging, and there are often soccer games underway on the sand.

All in all it’s an amazing beach for a capital city to have on its doorstep.

Lumley Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Lumley Beach. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Is it safe? During the day: yes. During the night: if you stick to well-lit, populated areas you should be okay. Don’t wander by yourself in the dark.

Dog hookworm? Yes. There are hundreds of stray dogs here. Wear flip flops.

Litter? Yes, but the beach is periodically cleaned.

Raw sewage in the water? Yes, Lumley Beach is surrounded by residential areas. But plenty of people swim here without complaint.

Access: Lumley Beach is easy to access. It’s a 15 minute drive from central Freetown (excluding traffic), and can be reached in 30 minutes or so with a combination of share-taxis.

Lakka Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

Lakka Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Lakka Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Lakka Beach is the next major beach after Lumley Beach as you head south along the Freetown Peninsula. Lumley is another sublime beach that is several kilometres in length, with coarse yellow sand, gentle waves, and clear water.

There is a strip of restaurants here that serve great seafood. You can sit at a table on the sand, get a meal of barracuda or lobster, and take a dip in the water whenever the mood strikes you. A visit to Lakka is a great way to pass the day.

Lakka Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Lakka Beach. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? There are a few dogs around, but the risk of dog hookworm here is lower than at other beaches.

Litter? The sand is generally free of litter but there is often garbage in the water.

Raw sewage in the water? Minimal.

Access: Lakka Beach is a 20 – 30 minute drive from Freetown, or a 30 – 60 minute trip with a combination of share-taxis.

Sussex Beach (Franco’s), Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

Sussex Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Sussex Beach (Franco’s), Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

The next beach you hit as you continue south along the peninsula is Sussex Beach. Most people will be coming here to have lunch or stay overnight at Franco’s (which is shown on maps as Florence’s Resort). Franco’s is situated at the river mouth; the restaurant is surrounded by lush vegetation, with a great view over the river. It’s a tranquil, relaxing spot, and another great weekend escape from the city.

Franco’s is separated from Sussex Beach by the river mouth. At high tide in the wet season the river is fast flowing and crossing it should not be attempted by weak swimmers. If you swim at the beach near the river mouth then be aware that there might be strong currents and rips to contend with.

Otherwise, Sussex Beach is yet another spectacular beach, and it is much quieter than Lumley or Lakka.

Sussex Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Sussex Beach. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? Low risk. There are very few stray dogs here.

Litter? Minimal.

Raw sewage in the water? Yes, in the river. But plenty of people swim here without complaint.

Access: Sussex Beach (Franco’s) is a 30 – 40 minute drive from Freetown. Share-taxis do continue past Franco’s on the Peninsula Highway but you might have to get out at the highway and walk the remaining distance (less than one kilometre).

River Number 2 Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

River Number 2 Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

River Number 2 Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

River Number 2 Beach was the setting for the famous Bounty chocolate bar advertisement of 1987 (you can watch it on Youtube here).

There are a number of food shacks at River Number 2 Beach, and there are chairs and beach huts for rent along the waterfront.

It’s accessible from the capital by share-taxi so it is one of the most popular beaches on the peninsula.

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? Yes. There are stray dogs.

Litter? Minimal.

Raw sewage in the water? Minimal.

Access: River Number 2 Beach is a 30 – 40 minute drive from Freetown. It is accessible by share-taxi.

Cockle Point, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

Cockle Point, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Cockle Point, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

At Cockle Point you’ll find a modest but charming restaurant that also provides overnight accommodation. There isn’t actually a beach here, but it’s only a few hundred metres away from Africa Point (see following entry). To access Africa Point you just need to wade across the river at low tide, or swim across at high tide (not recommended for weak swimmers in the wet season). You can usually find someone willing to row you across for a small fee if you’d rather not get your feet wet.

There are kayaks for rent at Cockle Point, and if you paddle upriver you might be lucky enough to spot a crocodile or two.

NOTE: Sierra Leone has three species of crocodiles, two of them are harmless to humans; the third, the Nile Crocodile, is extremely dangerous to humans. I could never get a definitive answer as to the presence of Nile Crocodiles on the peninsula, but suffice to say there are thousands of people in the water on a daily basis and I didn’t hear of any attacks during my 6 months stint in Freetown.

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? There are a few stray dogs around, but the risk is low.

Litter? Minimal

Raw sewage in the water? Yes, in the river. But plenty of people swim here without complaint.

Access: Cockle Point is a 40 – 60 minute drive from Freetown. In theory the share-taxis do not come this far along the highway, but you can get a share-taxi to Beach Number 2 and walk the rest of the way (about 15 – 30 minutes depending how fast you walk).

Africa Point, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

Africa Point, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Africa Point, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Africa Point is located just south of Beach Number 2. I found Africa Point to have the cleanest water of any of the beaches of the Freetown Peninsula (in terms of litter and turbidity), and it is also one of the quietest beaches. The waves are gentle, and there usually aren’t any currents or rips to worry about.

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? Low risk. I don’t think I ever saw any stray dogs here.

Litter? Minimal

Raw sewage in the water? Minimal.

Access: Africa Point isn’t accessible by road, but you can get here easily enough via River Number 2 Beach or Cockle Point.

Tokeh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

Tokeh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Tokeh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Tokeh Beach is a wide, flat beach with clear water and gentle waves. It’s about a 3o minute walk south of Africa Point.

There are two relatively luxurious hotels operating at Tokeh, which means the beach is generally clean and quiet.

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? Minimal.

Litter? Minimal.

Raw sewage in the water? Minimal.

Access: The Peninsula Highway is cut off beyond Cockle Point for much of the year, meaning road access is via the inland highway, passing through Regent, Hastings, and Waterloo. Drive time is 1.5 – 2 hours. Otherwise you can get a share-taxi to River Number 2 Beach and walk the remaining distance (0.5 – 1 hour depending on how fast you walk).

Bureh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula

Bureh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Bureh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Bureh Beach is located at the southern tip of the Freetown Peninsula. Most expats you meet in Sierra Leone will list Bureh Beach as their favourite beach in Sierra Leone. The southern end of the beach holds a few low-key accommodation options, ranging from huts to tents. It can get pretty busy on weekends, which means you might want to book ahead, unless you don’t mind sharing a tent.

There’s often a good deal of drinking and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights, so it’s the best beach, after Lumley Beach, to head to if you are after night life .

Bureh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Bureh Beach. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Bureh Beach is heralded as Sierra Leone’s premiere surf beach, and there are plenty of expats who come here every weekend to surf. The waves are pretty small though; I never saw anything over a couple of feet in height.

Accessing the main beach requires crossing a river mouth, which will be fast-flowing at high tide during wet season and shouldn’t be attempted by weak swimmers. There are reports of expats and locals alike drowning at the river mouth, so please be careful.

Bureh Beach, Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Bureh Beach. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Is it safe? Yes.

Dog hookworm? Yes. There are many stray dogs here, so definitely wear flip-flops if you want to avoid getting hookworm.

Litter? Yes. There must be a medical facility upstream that disposes its waste in the river as there is often medical waste on the riverbanks, including syringes (usually capped, thankfully).

Raw sewage in the water? Yes. A human turd floated past me once while I was swimming at the beach.

Access: Access to Bureh Beach is via the inland highway, passing through Regent, Hastings, and Waterloo. Drive time is 1 – 1.5 hours. Share-taxis generally do not go as far as Bureh, so if you want to use a taxi to get here you’ll have to hire it outright.


How to reach the Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula:

There are direct flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone from Paris, Brussels, Casablanca, and London. Smaller airlines fly to Monrovia (Liberia), Conakry (Guinea), Dakar (Senegal), and Banjul (the Gambia). More transport info here.


More on Sierra Leone:

Birds of Freetown

Bunce Island – the decaying remains of a slave trading castle


More on West Africa:

Senegal:

Île de Gorée – colonial island port involved in Atlantic slave trade


More of my favourite beaches:

Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles – is it the perfect beach?

Brownes Beach, Barbados – aquamarine waters walking distance from Bridgetown 

Secret Lagoon Beach, El Nido, Philippines – the true setting of Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’

Or visit my alluring beaches page.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4 thoughts on “Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone