Learn more about Gambia's beautiful beaches...
With long sandy beaches that are never overcrowded, even in the height of the season, The Gambia is a beach lover’s paradise. By the main tourist areas you’ll find plenty of sun loungers and parasols, restaurants and beach bars. You don’t need to go far, however, to discover quieter beaches. Search a little further afield still and idyllic long stretches of golden sands backed by gently swaying palm trees await you, with barely a soul in sight. Here’s our guide to the beaches of the Smiling Coast, starting in Cape Point by the mouth of the River Gambia and ending in the quiet solitude of Kartong in the far south.
The Best Beaches in The Gambia
This vast expanse of soft, golden sand with a small number of hotels set well back from the shoreline offers the best of both worlds, with plenty of sun loungers and thatched parasols as well as lots of space to get away from others should you wish to. It’s the perfect place to kick around a football or play Frisbee without disturbing anyone else.
At the far east of the beach you will find the lovely restaurant come beach bar, Calypso (pictured below), serving a great range of food and drinks which you can enjoy by a creek under a thatched cabana, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the crocodiles that live here. Colourful birds flit from tree to tree and you feel as if you are a million miles away from civilisation even though you are just a few minutes’ walk from the tourist resort of Cape Point.
This is a working beach where you’ll find colourful pirogues, the local fishing boats, bringing in their catch of catfish, ladyfish and mackerel, and a bustling fish market. A visit here offers a great insight into local life and will assault your senses with the sights, sounds and smells of fish being prepared and smoked. Bakau is not, however, the place for swimming or sunbathing, although the African Village Hotel here has a man-made sunbathing terrace. Close by are stretches of rocky coves which offer a perfect spot for beach fishing – Ngala Lodge (pictured below) overlooks one such cove and has a beautiful, elevated, open-air terrace and restaurant where you can enjoy a light lunch overlooking the beach.
Though rather touristy this is still a lovely, wide and flat, sandy beach backed by palm trees, hotels and restaurants with plenty of sun loungers and parasols. It’s particularly appealing at sunset for a stroll along the beach. If any bumsters (harmless young men trying to make friends and sell you something) bother you, kick off your shoes and walk in the water. They won’t follow you as they won’t want to get their trainers wet! Whilst being one of the best beaches for children due to the gently shelving sands, great care should be taken when swimming as there are strong currents here.
The beach here remains very popular and does get relatively busy by Gambian standards as it is currently fairly narrow; however it is possible to take a pleasant stroll along the uncovered sands at low tide. The beach tends to suffer from erosion due to the strong currents, although there are plans to replenish the sands in the next year or so. It is reached via the Senegambia or Kairaba hotels; both of these properties have lovely, spacious gardens and inviting pools that are perfect to cool down in. Set back from the beach you will find the Senegambia strip lined with many good restaurants, bars and a few shops and clubs.
This beach is on the southern edge of the main tourist resort of Kololi, and can be reached on foot after a 45-minute stroll. The further south you go the quieter it gets; there are a few hotels spread out along the shore but the area remains relatively unspoilt, with little here apart from the occasional fruit seller and beach bar, so you should have no trouble finding a secluded spot to yourself on this beach. Why not pop into Coco Ocean Resort & Spa to enjoy lunch on the terrace overlooking the sands?
At Brufut you’ll find a sandy beach that stretches for miles in either direction. An occasional football team in training or herd of cows may wander past but little else.
Like Bakau, Tanji most definitely does not have a beach for sunbathing or swimming as it is home to a lively fishing market with brightly painted pirogues unloading their catch and fish sellers lining the sands. While photography is not welcome by many here, it is still a vibrant and colourful sight to see and can be visited on several of our organised excursions.
At Batokunku you’ll find a wide expanse of unspoilt, flat sand with just one beach bar. The sunsets here are some of the best you’ll see anywhere in The Gambia and can be truly appreciated with a drink in hand at White Horse Residence.
Further south along the coast Sanyang Beach, also known as Paradise Beach, is a popular day trip. You’ll find a beach bar come restaurant, deckchairs and hammocks. Just north of here you’ll see rows of colourful pirogues and fish being smoked and dried. Visit on a Sunday to see traditional West African wrestling in the late afternoon. This is also when the beach is at its busiest with local families and tourists alike.
Travel to the far south of The Gambia to the beach by the village of Kartong to get completely off the tourist grid and enjoy this area of unspoilt natural beauty. The waters in this sheltered bay are usually relatively calm and Leatherback turtles nest here. The Sandele Bay Eco Retreat has been instrumental in protecting the nesting sites and the baby turtles as they start their epic voyage out to sea.
Whether you are a lover of peace and quiet and in search of a beach to have all to yourself, or are after something a little livelier with facilities close at hand, The Gambia has something for everyone – along with year-round temperatures of over 30 degrees to make a day on the beach even more enticing. Visit Gambia.co.uk to book your very own beach holiday.
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