Ivory Coast… Coast
No visit to Ivory Coast would be complete without a visit to, well, The Coast ! I have not seen the ocean since a trip to an island off Conakry, Guinea, and I’m very excited for some quality beach time. After the massive driving days I’ve just had the paradise I find completely blows my mind. I find an amazing guesthouse right on the water near Grand-Berébi that permits camping, and I’m more than happy to park the Jeep on the sand for a few days of relaxation. JoJo, the owner, moved here 20 years ago from Switzerland, and built a slice of paradise. It’s amazing to fall asleep every night to the sound of the crashing waves, then to go for a swim and massive walk at sunrise. Locals fish from the beach with nets and from boats with rudimentary lines, and they are more than happy to share a couple of a fish with me.
I am a little early for the turtle egg laying season, though I head out at night anyway, walking almost 10 miles out and back between 9pm and 4am. I don’t spot any actual turtles, though I do see the marks on the sand where one came up to find a good laying spot before changing her mind. Next time.
I meet a younger German couple who have decided to give up the rat race in Germany, and now live on the beach here full time. They’ve just had their first child, and drove down from Germany last week. They have done the drive to and from Germany 15 times in the last 5 years, always without a problem and having a great time in West Africa.
At first I’m in the far West of Ivory Coast, right near Liberia. After some days there I slowly move East, hopping from beach to beach, always white-sand paradise lined with palm trees. Each place is more beautiful than the next, and many times I can hardly believe my eyes.
I find a fantastic soft spot near Sassandra at Chez Jules, run by a couple of local rasta guys who invite me into their family. One morning we wander around the mountains behind their place picking wild mushrooms before getting stuck into the local drink of palm wine. This stuff comes straight out of palm trees and at first doesn’t seem very strong, but after many hours in the sun with every local buying me a bottle it sure feels strong!
The surf here rolls in off a point break, though I’m not a good surfer and don’t feel at all comfortable with all the rocks lurking just beneath the surface. At the right time of year, this place is pumping, with waves double overhead I’m told.
For my final beach spot I go all the way through Abidjan, the biggest city in the country. After driving on shocking roads for so long it’s a shock to arrive in such a modern city, completely with freeways, street lights, signs and high rise buildings. I continue East to Assinie, a famous beach-side hangout for ex-pats and well-to-do Abidjan locals. It’s built up somewhat like Cancun in Mexico, though at this time of year there is not a single tourist or out-of-towner. I have a great night when I leave the whole resorty area and wander into the little town to grab a beer at a local bar.
Surfboards are for rent here and I have a great day catching at many waves as I can. It’s just a beach break, and the waves out the back are much to big for me, but I have a great time catching those on the inside, and manage a few of the best rides of my life (not so hard on a 7ft. foam board).
I can honestly say these are the best beaches I have ever seen in my life. Better than Australia, better than Costa Rica. Yes, that good!