Beaches and pools in Accra
Bustling Accra is backed by the wide sands of Labadi Beach: a hazy stretch of crashing surf where locals and visitors alike flock to cool off amid 1’s steamy climate. While parts of the beach are noticeably uncared for, the sections beside Labadi Beach Hotel (tel: (302) 772 501; www.labadibeach.com) and La Palm Royal Beach Hotel (tel: (302) 215 100; www.gbhghana.net) are great spots for basking on the sands, frolicking in the waters and observing Ghanaian life of all ages.
If the beach is a little hectic – and it can be – find more relaxed watery fun at one of the many lovely hotel pools. At the top of the pile is undoubtedly La Palm Royal Beach Hotel’s large pool complex, complete with wet bar for adults, a smaller kids’ pool and huge green grounds that make for a real haven of freshness in dusty Accra. Non-guests can pay to use the pool facilities by the day. A short walk up the beach is the plush Labadi Beach Hotel with a smaller pool but an overall more luxurious and secluded feel. Staff are wonderful, and the food and cocktails at the poolside restaurant are some of the city’s very best.
Beachside excursions from Accra
A 25-minute drive from Accra’s boisterous centre is Bojo Beach – a spit of sugar-white sand that could easily be a remote stretch of the Caribbean. After paying a small entrance fee, beachgoers hop into little boats that glide across a short, flat stretch of water to Bojo’s gleaming strip, where thatched umbrellas stud the shoreline, looking out over the crashing waves beyond. This is a delightfully simple scene of sand, water and seating, and refreshments are served from a large thatched shack. The current here is powerful; there are lifeguards, but it is advised that only strong swimmers go out of their depth in the hardy surf. Its greatest appeal when compared with city-side Labadi, is that the urban hubbub seems light years away. During the week, and on the rare cooler day, Bojo is a wonderfully tranquil haven with oodles of space, while weekends and holidays see it transform into an animated social scene, with locals and visitors alike enjoying jet skiing, football, volley ball, music and dancing.
Further afield, an hour or so out of Accra, is the small beach town of Kokrobite. For the best fun-time vibe, there’s popular Big Milly’s Backyard: a wonderfully laidback hostel with hammocks slung between trees and a 24-hour open-air bar. Another great beach excursion from Accra is colourful Elmina, a fishing town sat on a south-facing bay lying west of Cape Coast, a couple of hours from the capital. Coconut Grove Beach Resort (www.coconutgrovehotels.com.gh) is a reliably luxurious accommodation option, sitting three kilometres west of Elmina. Its restaurant serves up fabulous seafood dishes, and, as well as access to a delightful strip of beach, it is home to a crocodile pond, an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool and tennis courts.
Fashion and shopping in Accra
Anything resembling high-end fashion once seemed a world away from Accra, but over the last few years Ghana’s shopping scene has undergone a sizeable style makeover. A burgeoning number of internationally acclaimed designers and quality shopping boutiques today mean plenty of luxury treats for visitor.
A popular designer is Christie Brown (www.christiebrownonline.com), who creates luxury women’s clothing with a vibrant African twist. Standout pieces in the new Osu store combine bold African prints with luxurious silks and chiffon, creating sophisticated combinations that have become favourite staples of the more refined Accra fasionista. Fresh and flirty designs fill the Kiki Clothing boutique in Accra Mall. Its designer, Titi Ademola, also creates eye-catching children’s wear. Another top fashion name in Accra is Renée Q Boateng, whose beautiful accessories are made from pearls and crystal, as well as traditional Ghanaian beads. For a variety of luxury shopping boutiques, from clothing and jewellery to home ware, all under one roof, there’s the shopping complex in the snazzy new Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel. After a splurge, sit poolside and sip cocktails served by waiters on rollerblades. For those who like to play designer themselves, visit the teeming fabric section of Makola market. The market can be daunting; opt for guided market tours from Global Mamas (www.globalmamas.org) to help steer your way.
Fine dining in Accra
Accra’s dining scene has evolved at a heady pace in recent times, and visitors can quite literally eat their way around the world. Beautifully executed European fare is served at trendy and central Firefly Lounge, which turns into a vibrant and happening late night hangout as the evening goes on. The hotel serving up the best cuisine is undoubtedly Labadi Beach Hotel. Even the simple and fresh salads and wraps on the lunch menu are divine.
For sophisticated French dishes with a splash of African flavour there’s La Chaumiere (215 Liberation Road), and glisteningly fresh sushi and fruity cocktails are served up on a terrace overlooking the hubbub of Oxford Street at Monsoon. In a bright purple building that dominates the Osu skyline, Citizen Kofi (6th Street, Off Oxford Street) is one of the finest places to eat in Accra. Inside a whitewashed dining room on the fourth floor restaurant, feast on the likes of Alaskan King Crab Legs, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Black Angus Rib Eye and Australian Lobster Tail. For traditional Ghanaian fare with a beachside setting, the thatched Ghanaian Village at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel is a lovely option. Try traditional dishes such as red red (bean stew) and fish with herby palava sauce.